The 10 Basic Rules Of Image Composition

Introduction

There are 10 main composition rules to bear in mind when it comes to creating an image. Following these rules can help to make your image more successful and visually appealing.

Please note that the works shown in this article are not mine, but have all been used with permission of the artists that created them.

1. Contrast

How you can attract the viewer to your picture? You need to have contrast in your scene. The light object should be on dark background and vice versa (Fig.01).

Fig.01 - © ms_Dessi

Fig.01 - © ms_Dessi

2. Layout

The key objects should not be placed chaotically. It is better that they form the shape of a simple geometric figure (Fig.02).

Fig.02 - © Morro

Fig.02 - © Morro

3. Balance

The objects located in opposite sides of frame should correspond to each other in terms of volume, size and color parameters.

4. The Golden Ratio

The golden ratio was known even in ancient Egypt. Its properties were studied by Leonardo and Euclid. The simple definition is that the best point to place the object is one third from the horizontal or vertical border of frame. The location of key objects at these points seems natural and attracts the eye (Fig.03).

Fig. 03

Fig. 03

5. Diagonals

One of the most effective compositions is the diagonal composition. The essence is simple -locate the key objects on a diagonal within the frame. For example, from the upper left corner to the lower right. This ruse is good because it guides the viewer's eyes through the picture (Fig.04 - 05).

Fig.04 - © Feodor Ivaneev

Fig.04 - © Feodor Ivaneev

Fig.05 - © Feodor Ivaneev

Fig.05 - © Feodor Ivaneev

6. Frame Format

If your scene has a lot of vertical objects, use a vertical format for the frame. And if there are lots of horizontal objects, use a horizontal format (Fig.06 - 07).

Fig.06 - © Morro

Fig.06 - © Morro

Fig.07 - © Feodor Ivaneev

Fig.07 - © Feodor Ivaneev

7. Perspective

The choice of the perspective point can affect the emotional perception of the scene. Here are some simple rules. For character renders the best point is situated at eye level. For a full height portrait, the point should be situated at the level of belt. Try to crop the frame in such a way that the horizon won't divide it for equal parts. Otherwise the viewer can't really focus on the objects in scene. Try to settle the camera at the level of the object otherwise you can get distorted proportions. For example, if you look at the object from a higher point then it will seem to be shorter than it is reality (Fig.08).

Fig.08 - © Feodor Ivaneev

Fig.08 - © Feodor Ivaneev

8. Direction

Our mind always read from left to right, and so we perceive pictures in the same way. That's why it's important to try and position the key objects in an image in the right part of the frame. This will help the look and the key point to move towards (Fig.09).

Fig.09 - © Dmitry Schuka

Fig.09 - © Dmitry Schuka

9. The Colour Spot

If we have a color spot in one part of the frame then we need to have something which will attract the viewer's attention on the other side too. This could be another color spot or some action in the frame (Fig.10).

Fig.10 - © Scionik

Fig.10 - © Scionik

10. Diagonals

If you decide to make a dynamic object (car or bicycle) always leave free space behind the object. This will give the feeling that the object is just now entering the frame and not leaving it (Fig.11).

Fig.11 - © Aleksandr1

Fig.11 - © Aleksandr1

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