Composition for Artists




This tutorial is for 3D Artists, Digital Artists, Photographers, Traditional Artists and so because in visual composition the basis is the same for all.


Photography by Janez Podnar


What makes a good visual art piece?


Normally a good photo, render, illustration or any piece of visual art is composed of several parts that must have quality.


  • Composition: It's basically the distribution of the elements that you are showing in the space, layout, frame, etc.
  • Lighting: It represents the visible areas (lighted areas) combined with non visible areas (shadows) and the transition between them (mid-tones).
  • Technique: It represents the quality of the render settings, the quality of the lenses, sensor and settings of the camera, the quality of the perspective, lines, brush strokes of a handmade illustration, etc.
  • Subject and Drama: It's basically what you are representing in your composition. It's not the same fruits than animals, people, or a landscape or maybe a cartoon character.


In this tutorial the main focus is Composition


General Terms

  • Main Element: It's the main object, the center of interest of the composition it must be: the element that must call the attention of the viewer, the most detailed element , with good contrast respect the background and the rest of elements.
  • Basic Simplification:  In the composition must be only the elements that you are really interested in showing. If you want to show a beer chopp you should include only that element and any secondary element must not compete with the main object. If you doubt if some element must be in the composition or not you should take it off.


Rule Of Thirds

Divide both the vertical and horizontal frame into 3 equal parts. Not always but normally the main focus is the part that covers 2 of the 3 thirds, though is more used for making a dynamic balance of the composition, so that it doesn't look too static.

Though it's a landscape photography and every element seems to be the focus, the photographer wants to highlight the sky over the ground using the rule of thirds.


Photography by GrafixArtPhoto


3D Render by Alrod3D Snow Landscape Builder (Blender)


Golden Ratio

This rules comes from the rule of thirds. Actually it comes from the Spiral of Fibonacci. In the golden rectangle the four culmination points of the golden spiral are the Golden Ratio.

In composition for making this thing easier it's not necessary to start from a golden rectangle frame. And just like the rule of thirds divide the composition into 3 equal parts, both sides, vertical and horizontal. The inner points resulting from crossing the lines are called Strong Focal Points for placing the main element or center of interest.

3D Artwork by Alrod3D (Unreal Engine 4)


The main focus in this artwork is the tennis ball so it's placed in a Strong Focal Point making the composition with a dynamic balance.



Balancing elements in the composition so that the visual weights on both sides of the picture are the same. It can be represented in different ways:

  • Asymmetrical
  • Axial Balance (Symmetrical or Quasi-Symmetrical)
  • Radial Balance



There are two center of interest in this photography but both practically have the same visual weights balancing the photography. The asymmetric composition gives a more dynamic balance.


Axial Balance

From one axis placed in the middle of the composition both sides are symmetric or quasi-symmetric.



Photography by Felipe Dolce

From one axis place in the middle both sides are symmetrical.



Photography by Mohamed Almari

From one axis in the middle both sides are quasi-symmetrical

Radial Balance

A group of strong circular or spiral geometric lines converge to a point in the composition, normally in the middle, so that the result is symmetric or quasi-symmetric. But It can be combined with assymetry or golden ratio rules.

3D Artwork by Alrod3D


The circular shapes of this composition converge to the center.

Photography by Axel Vandenhirtz


The focus of interest is placed off-center in the composition and  has much more visual weight than the opposite side. It makes a much more dynamic picture and if it's excessive can cause tension in the viewer.

Photography by Skeeze

This composition seems to be an axial balance composition, but a lightning appears in the left side of the photography gaining all the focus of attention. Resulting in a composition which left side has stronger visual weight than the right side.


The focus of interest is a repetition of the same element several times. It confers unity and harmony to the composition.



Photography by Icon0

This composition is quite simple  the center of interest is repeated several times filling the frame.

Alternated Repetition

If you want a more dynamic composition. You can change some attribute of the repeated elements for example the color, or the texture. Or even it can be a different group of objects that alternate the repetition.

Photography by LoggaWiggler

This composition is an asymmetry that alternates the rhithms. The result is a more dynamic composition than if it would have been only one element filling the frame.

Breaking Rhythm

This rule happens when one of the repeated elements changes  its position, size, color, or makes something different for becoming the center of interest. It makes a more dynamic composition.

Photography by MonikaP

This composition is filled with impalas looking to a side but one of them turns its head looking to the front being the "different element" breaking the rhythm.

Strong Geometric Lines

The elements in the composition have a well defined geometric shape. It can be used for giving dynamism, movement, direction and so on.


Curves and contra-curves, circular, spiral lines in the composition can give dynamism and movement.

Photography by PxHere

An imbalanced  composition with a rhythm of curve geometric lines making a big ellipse. Gives strong dynamism ad movement to the photography.


A group of geometric lines that converge to a point give direction empathize the shape of an element.

Photography by Ssalae


Converge lines of the perspective empathize the height of the skyscraper.

Frame within a Frame

Some element in the composition can highlight or frame another element making it the center of interest. This kind of composition is like two composition (or more) into one. Because the framed elements results in a new composition.

Photography by Simon Migaj

The main composition is an axial balance but the the rocks are making a frame to a "new composition" between the man and the rocks formations resulting in an axial balance within another axial balance.

Photography by Kasabubu

This is another axial balance but the dried trunks on the first plane are framing the rock formations in the background becoming the center of interest in the composition.


Although is a general rule it can be used as the main criteria. Simplifying the information, color, elements, so that nothing is disturbing the composition or center of interest. This kind of composition looks more subtle and clean.

Photography by DragonTools

The bird is the only element in the composition making a clean and subtle composition empathizing the geometric lines curves that give more dinamism.

Filled Frame

Within of simplification rule and very useful for beginners! You can fill all the frame with the center of interest.  Sometimes it can result in another composition like axial balance, golden ratio and so.

Photography by Mabel Amber

The sheep is the center of interest and it covers all the frame resulting in a another composition that is asimmetric.


This also belongs to simplification it represents the reduction of details to the basic essence. Silhouettes, low depth of field, and so.

Photography by Homecare

The composition is totally simplified to the bird and the tree branch, the background is stylized with the low Depth of Field.

Photography by Archie Binamira

The center of interest is stylized showing only the silhouettes. Back-lighting often give the stylized effect by showing only the silhouette of the elements in the composition.

Negative Space

This kind of composition represent the main attribute of the minimalist composition the "empty space" represent one important element in the composition.

Artwork by Alrod3D

The back-lighting gives a subtle effect over the character and the empty space represent one important element in this composition.



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And there are a lot more of rules to make composition even they can be combined in different ways.

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