Tuesday, December 9, 2008



In two-dimensional art, composition and design are defined by the elements within the picture plane. Composition employs certain principles to capture the viewer’s attention and keep it moving within the picture plane

The illusion of dimension is created by various means, such as perspective, diagonal lines, diminshing size and height of objects, faded and undetailed distant shapes, and a a tendency for distant forms to be more neutral in color and to have less contrast.

Certain principles and rules of nature lead the eye around the surface or through the implied space of the picture. By using these principles or purposely breaking the rules, attention can be directed to different parts of the picture plane at the artist’s will.

Design principles attempt an aesthetically pleasing or dramatically demanding effect which can be learned, practiced, and almost unconsciously integrated into the way an artist works. These principles are inherently part of the natural world, and often children have a natural sense of composition in their art expressions.

Basic elements of design or composition to be mastered include: Balance, Contrast, Movement, Rhythm, Repetition, Variety, Unity, Harmony, Simplicity, Complexity, Proportion, Principles of aesthetic picture plane division and more. Whole books have been devoted to the subject, and so not much pertaining to these principles will be included here.

Three books I would recommend are:
Art Fundamentals – Theory and Practice, by Ocvirk, Bone, Stinson and Wigg.
Composition in Art, by Henry Rankin Poore (Avenel Books)
Composition, by David Friend (Watson Guptill)

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