Composition is one of the trickiest subjects to understand as it is a vast and complex area but it is crucial to learn about it to make your designs more engaging and impactful.
This live stream session explores compositional techniques from initial rules to complex design theory. It is one of the trickiest subjects to understand as it is a vast and complex area but is crucial to learn about to ensure your designs are more engaging and impactful. Below is some further information about what was discussed in this live stream:
Goals of Composition:
- Purposeful arrangement of elements
- Tell a story
- Convey the message visually
- Create an impact
Watch this video if you missed the Live Stream:
Check out all the examples showed in this video here:
Some of the amazing artist mentioned in the video:
5 Key Design Principles:
- Scale: Draws attention to design elements, creates emphasis.
- Hierarchy: Helps users to navigate your design, signals importance of different elements.
- Contrast: Light vs Dark, Thick vs Thin, helps make design elements ‘pop’
- Direction: Creates a path, direct viewer in ‘Z’ ‘L’ and ‘Y’ shapes.
- Negative Space: The space in between elements, can be used to create new shapes.
10 Top Tips to Get Your Composition Right:
- Learn the rules to be able to break them
- Overlap, depth, interactions, relations between elements are crucial – avoid isolation or kissing (edges touching)
- Simplify, avoid clutter (every element has to have a reason)
- Add movement/drama, guide your viewers eyes
- Be clear about your focal points and where you place them (rule of thirds, golden ratio, etc.)
- Contrast is key (light/dark, thick/thin, small/large, etc.)
- Hierarchy helps viewers navigate your design
- Repetition gives consistency and ties together related elements
- Negative space is just as important as positive space
- Choose your colours wisely and sparingly, they can convey your message or break your whole design if badly selected
Composition Theories and Techniques:
Making sense of how the human mind perceives the whole and not the parts of it. Five design principles derive from the Gestalt theory: proximity, similarity, continuity, closure and figure/ground. Each employs different methods to create unity within the whole.
At the heart of most design principles it’s all about making sense of how the human mind perceives the whole of something and not the parts of it. Five design principles which derive from the Gestalt theory include:
- Proximity: Elements close to each other are considered part of the same group for example Kerning which helps readers understand each word as part of a larger sentence.
- Similarity: Elements that look alike are perceived as part of a group.
- Continuity: Objects that are plotted into a continuous pattern are grouped together by the mind.
- Closure: Our minds want closure, a shape only needs to be implied for our mind to fill in the gaps and see more than is actually there.
- Figure/ground: People can immediately identify which element is the figure and which is the ground. The viewer’s mind sees the smallest element as the figure and the larger one as the ground or background.
Each principal employs different methods to create unity within the whole.
Rule of Thirds and Golden Ratio
Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds can be applied to any subject to improve the composition and balance of your images and is one of the most useful composition techniques, acting as a guideline that helps creatives determine where to place an object or asset.
It is a simple method of dividing your canvas/artboard into thirds both horizontally and vertically, which will result in 4 intersection points. These are the ideal spots for placing the focal points within your design (top left being the most looked at by your viewers). This theory is about creating the right aesthetic trade-offs, it helps create a sense of balance without making the image appear too static. It can also add a sense of complexity, without making the composition look too busy and confusing for a viewer.
The Golden Ratio originates from a series of numbers called the Fibonacci sequence. Beginning with 0 and 1, each number in the sequence is derived by adding the two previous numbers together, As the numbers in the sequence get larger, the ratio between them gets closer and closer to 1:1.618, which we call Golden Ratio. This is a common mathematical ratio found in nature that can be used to create natural lookingcompositions in your design work. Sometimes it is referred to as Divine Proportions.
A series of interlocked golden rectangles creates the shape of a golden spiral.