An artist's guide to composition

An artist's guide to composition | Art-Res
Table of Contents

Learn how to draw in a way that capture’s your viewer’s eye with this composition masterpost. It has resources for every kind of artist to master composition and learn how to hold an audience’s attention.

Composition matters

Why composition matters

This post is relevant for all kinds of art because an interesting composition is key for most pieces of visual art. Having a strong composition will help you catch your viewer eye. Composition will allow you to structure your piece in a way that can guide the eye around the image, which is a pretty powerful tool.

There are several kinds of composition styles that are pretty aesthetically appealing.

A few general tips

  • Try to make your composition guide the viewer’s eye in a certain direction, say towards a focal point, then around the piece. You can achieve this with motion or contrast in value, or color, or shapes.
  • Try not to make the composition too chaotic, and work to balance different aspects of your piece.
  • Thumbnails are very helpful for generating composition ideas. It’s better to find a solid composition first, before working out all the details.
  • Keep experimenting with different types of composition/shapes that lead the eye to different parts of your image.
  • Watch out for negative space, aesthtically pleasing framing, where you zoom/crop.

Different Types of Composition

If you’re having trouble, here a few specific types of composition you can use as guidelines for your pieces. Best practices, if you will. Of course, there are no hard rules in art!


  • Basically interesting things are happening on both “sides” of a plane. This one works well when you try to convey motion or some kind of geometric shape, ie, buildings/mountains.
  • You can also implement symmetry on both axes and go for a radially symmetric piece. Think of pizza slices, or a sea star.

Rule of Thirds

  • Basically, you first divided your viewing frame into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. Next, you select an intersection of those points as your focal point.
Rule of Thirds

Shape Based

Try working with different shapes:

  • Slanted lines as a rhythm for composition can look pleasing (diagonals).
  • Triangles, rectangles, circles, and others can lead the eye around your piece well.

Golden Ratio – mathematical basis

Other Wonderful tutorials

Check out these other, aweosme tutorials.

For help with other integral subjects on art, check out these guides to the fundamentals : color theoryanatomy, and perspective.