Light and darks in colors
Light and darks in colors

Understanding the Composition in Painting

To understand the composition in painting you need to answer these questions: Why is it that we tend to concentrate on the same images when we explore the museum? What is it that many of us find interesting? Why do we usually feel attracted to the domestic calmness of Vermeer? How about compelling and eye-catching images of Frida Khalo? While it is quite challenging to explain the absolute beauty or the popularity of any artwork, the crucial component of painting or drawing is composition. The composition is how the painting is composed and its elements to form an art. In other words, the composition is the foundation of the painting we find so captivating. It is hard to spot a poorly composed artwork. So let’s look at the composition of the painting in detail. Keep reading…     

Basic composition elements  

There are 8 basic elements of composition. All artists should understand these elements to come up with a compelling art:


When you observe your piece keenly, does everything work perfectly together? That’s what we call unity. You can discard your painting or photograph mood by placing the wrong elements in the wrong places. If things seem out of place, it is your duty as an artist to fix them. This doesn’t mean that you cannot be creative with your placements. However, you need to be instinctual about whether the piece is cohesive or not. If you are looking for the best online course at the lowest price, you may start here.

Balance of the composition in painting

Composition in painting
Composition in painting, (Image credit: Mayur Deshpande)

This is the equilibrium of various elements in a piece. It is an important element to consider when thinking about the composition because even a slight change can influence the final result of your project.

Balance can ensure that your art is symmetrical, but it doesn’t need to be. Think about the mood you are striking. Symmetry provides calmness than asymmetry, which sometimes feels chaotic.


Focus is important when thinking about composition in art, regardless of the medium you are using. Our eyes often want something to focus on. So your viewer will land on a defined focal point that they can get quickly and explicate the rest of the artwork.

The focal point doesn’t have to be the direct center of your art. The important thing to remember is that you should give your viewers something they can visually focus on and ensure that their eyes are not lost while wandering around your art.


High and low contrast creates different moods, depending on your final look. Reflecting on the definition of composition, it’s all about how you assemble your elements. And the contrast in color and tone is the perfect way to create various emotions or reactions in your viewer. If you are struggling then you may consider trying the best online course.


Yes, it appears strange to talk about movement in the artwork. But there are several ways to add this specter to your pieces when they are not moving at all.

Lead lines are the perfect way to get your viewer’s eye around your photograph. Lines can be tangible lines, such as a fence or row of trees.

Pattern of the Composition in Painting

Our brains and eyes love repetition. It is easy to understand, and it is comforting to see the same element repeatedly. However, it doesn’t mean that you should repeat the same design everywhere.

Everything can create a pattern – be it the color or the elements you are using throughout.


Just like movement, all perfect paintings have a special rhythm that has been created by the artist. People tend to confuse rhythm with the pattern. But what distinguishes the two is that rhythm doesn’t have to be the same element repeating throughout.


Have you ever observed your painting or drawing and concluded that something isn’t right? In most cases, it is due to a particular element being out of proportion. The professional guideline may help you to speed up the whole process. Now for the best price available.

How objects in the piece work together in terms of sizes and scale is crucial when you want to pass through a certain message. Again, this is an important aspect of what composition is and how you arrange everything in your piece. So you must scale each element perfectly to convey the message you want to send.

Understanding composition in painting
Understanding composition in painting, (Image credit: Claudio Schwarz)

Composition rules, theories, and techniques in painting

There are plenty of rules, theories, and techniques that help artists craft more fascinating compositions. So here are some:


This involves arranging shapes and other elements to frame a particular area. The concept behind it is similar to why we physically frame our art.

Leading lines

These are suggestive lines that aim attention around an art. Leading lines can be actual or implied lines that don’t physically exist but are often suggested.

Golden ratio

The golden ratio is around 1 to 1.618. Artworks that follow the golden ratio are said to be aesthetically captivating. Use the ultimate chance for being better in painting.

Rule of thirds

The third rule is placing a 3×3 grid over the subject and using it in composition design. You can position the key features on the gridlines and intersections.


This is perhaps the most crucial composition idea. It involves taking all the details and simplifying them to develop something more coherent.

Rule of odds

This is a concept that objects in odd numbers appear more natural and pleasing than objects in even numbers.


Triangles relate to the rule of odds. Triangle arrangements are said to be aesthetically pleasing. And if the triangle is upright, there is a strong sense of structure and stability.

The composition illustration
The composition illustration, (Image credit: Dimitar Belchev)

Common mistakes of the composition in painting

Some paintings need to have nude models for posing. There are only 2 options, go to the expensive painting course or try the virtual pose nude models. But now back to the composition. The following is a list of the most common composition issues:

The focal point on the edge of your artwork

Your focal point is the key concept of your painting. Ensure it is in a prominent spot and not on the edges.

Aligning objects

It may look unnatural if the tallest tree ranges with the peak of the faraway mount.


The composition may not work if it does not begin with ideas.

Wrong direction

If you are exaggerating any element in your art, it is important to push in the direction of your main idea. For example, when it comes to seascape, make it quite darker and the waves quite larger.

So, fixing all these common composition mistakes guarantees you a pleasurable painting that’ll capture the attention of your viewers.

The bottom line of composition in painting

Understanding the composition of the painting is the backbone of your artwork. The composition will help you compose captivating artwork that will capture the attention of your viewers. 

In order to become a successful painter, it’s important to learn the basics of painting and to practice these techniques regularly. By following these tips, you can create paintings that are both beautiful and professional-looking. So get out your paints and brushes, and start painting! There are even more professional tips, for details visit the complete course. No model for pose? Try the nude models by using the only online virtual pose software.

Finishing techniques

Title Image, (Image credit: Elena Mozhvilo)

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