Composition in drawing

Any drawing begins with the compositional placement of images on a sheet of paper. The overall impression of the drawing largely depends on how the objects on the drawing are arranged.

The main task of composition in the educational drawing is the ability to place objects and their parts so as to create a single harmonious expressive drawing.

Composition is a system of rules and techniques for the mutual arrangement of parts in a work of art. The ability to accurately and expressively place the image within the sheet format is a very important skill for any artist. The ability to compose compositions is also an art. Therefore, to master the art of composition, the development of compositional vision, intuition will be required.

Thanks to evolution, it is inherent in the human eye to see and perceive the world around us in proportions. That is, by nature we already know how to see the beautiful, and we just need to learn how to transfer it to a piece of paper.

In working on composition, you need to learn compositional vision. Such a vision can be developed through various exercises. For example, you can look at various objects and compare them with each other. Represent them inside the frame, mentally placing them in different places of this frame.

In addition, you can draw some kind of spot or any other object and place it inside a frame. Or, first, depict a frame, and then place an object inside it. The frame should be depicted in accordance with the proportions of the image that you place inside it.


As you master these techniques, you can try to complicate the task on a “from simple to complex” principle by including two or more objects in the composition. This helps to understand the basics of composition and learn to portray more complex objects and plots in the future. A good composition gives the picture a holistic and finished look, and a bad composition can spoil even a well-made drawing.

Composition in drawing

When working on a composition in an educational drawing, you must:

1. Determine the objectives and goals.

2. Examine the portraying item and choose a point of view.

3. Determine the scale of the subject and position the sheet of paper correctly (vertically or horizontally).

4. Place and balance objects on a piece of paper.

5. Determine the center of the composition.

6. Depict the objects taking into account perspective and proportion.

7. Identify and depict the volume of objects using shadows.

8. Summarize and complete work on the composition.

Determine the Objectives and Goals

Before starting work on the composition, it is necessary to determine the semantic content and objectives of the future drawing. It depends primarily on your ideas and tasks that are currently facing you.

Examine the portraying item and choose a point of view

Carefully study the depicted subject or plot. This is necessary in order to understand the structure, location, and volume of what you are going to portray. Otherwise, you risk making many mistakes in the drawing process.

Determine the scale of the subject and position the sheet of paper correctly (vertically or horizontally)

The correct arrangement of the objects of the image primarily depends on the shape of the objects and their dimensional values. If we, for example, depict a vertically standing bottle, then it is best to choose the vertical arrangement of a sheet of paper. If we depict a car, it is best to choose a horizontal arrangement of a sheet of paper.

Place and balance objects on a piece of paper

At this point, we need to place the item itself inside the sheet of paper. For the most correct determination of the location of objects in the drawing, you need to make several sketches on a separate sheet. This will help you determine the most advantageous angle and location of the objects. After that, it is necessary to depict the edges of the object on the paper. The edges of the object and their contours should not touch the edges of the sheet of paper. Also, and vice versa, one cannot leave unjustified empty space on the sheet. In both of these cases, the composition will be disrupted.

Determine the center of the composition

The center of the composition is the center of the main subject or group of subjects depicted on the sheet. The visual center is the point that most attracts our attention in the drawing. The compositional center may not always coincide with the visual center, it depends on the location of the main subject around which the others are grouped, as well as on the choice of point of view.

Depict the Objects Taking Into Account Perspective and Proportion

Earlier we have already outlined the edges of objects. Now it’s time to depict the general contours and build the most general forms in the drawing. In addition, we must outline the proportions of objects and their location in space. It is crucial to consider that the objects are at the correct distance from each other. It is important not to make mistakes because in the future they will be complicated to fix.

Identify and Depict the Volume of Objects Using Shadows

To identify the volume of objects, you should first determine their contrasts of light and shadow. After this, it is necessary to determine the nature and location of the halftones. First, outline the location of the shadows. Then, with the help of hatching, begin to smoothly fill the shadows. After that, begin to depict semitones, while strengthening the shadows and their borders. It is best to draw hatching in accordance with the shape of the object since this method provides a good opportunity to achieve the volumetric shape of the object.

Summarize and Complete Work on the Composition

This is the last, but no less important stage in the process of building composition and creating artwork. Here you need to make all the finishing touches and give the drawing a complete look. All volumes, shadows, and lights should look as complete as possible.

composition in visual arts

By the way, in order to simplify your task in working with composition, and to find it easier in the real world, you can make a special viewfinder for yourself. To do this, take a sheet of paper or cardboard and cut out a rectangle in it corresponding to the proportions of the sheet of paper intended for drawing. In addition, you can use the camera of a phone or tablet for the same purpose.

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