The Fundamentals of Composition


The Fundamentals of Composition in art arrange or shape the components in a pleasing matter of how the artist hopes the viewer precede their art work. It helps give structure to the layout and the way the subject is presented. The artist also encourages or leads the viewer’s eye to wander around, taking in everything and finally returning to the focal point of the work.
The eight components below help create a complete composition.

• Unity: Do all the parts of the composition feel as if they belong together, giving the work total harmony. Or does something feel awkwardly out of place?
• Balance: Having a symmetrical arrangement giving a sense of calm. Or does the arrangement create a sense of unease, imbalance?
• Movement: A sense of movement in a painting can be express in many ways, such as the arrangement of objects, the position of figures, the flow of a river.
• Rhythm: As in music, a piece of art can have a rhythm or underlying beat that leads and paces the eye as you look at it. Look for the large underlying shapes (squares, triangles, etc.) and repeated color.
• Focus: (or Emphasis): The viewer’s eye finally wants to stop at the “most important” focal point in the painting, otherwise the eye will wander around and feel lost in space.
• Contrast: Values showing a strong difference between light and dark.
• Pattern: The basic lines and shapes in the composition.
• Proportion: How things fit together.


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January 2016
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