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Composition in drawing

Any artwork begins with the placement of objects on a paper. The overall impression of the artwork depends on how the objects on the drawing are arranged.

This article will be purely theoretical, in which the team of Drawingforall.net will tell you what composition is. Here we will also tell you about the basic techniques of composition and the mistakes that are typical for beginners.

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

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. It can also be said that composition is an artistic concept and structure of a work of art.

The main objectives of the composition are:

  • bring the idea of a picture or sketch to the viewer;
  • harmoniously arrange objects within a given format.

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 the process of working with composition, you need to find the composition in the environment. Such ability 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 ibject 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

So, any artwork begins with the fact that we roughly estimate the sizes of objects and their location on a sheet of paper. For example, we are going to depict a rose. We can portray it as big or small. We can also place it in the center of the sheet or shift it in any direction.

what is composition

If there is only one object in the artwork, then it is not difficult to place it on paper, as in one of the above examples from the artists of Drawingforall.net. But if there are two or more objects in the image, then you need to not only arrange them correctly and beautifully on a piece of paper but also make them look harmoniously combined.

One of the most famous compositional rules is the rule thirds. This rule is that it is necessary to mentally divide the sheet into three equal parts vertically and horizontally. Objects located at the intersection points of the lines or on the lines themselves look harmoniously in the drawing.

third rule in drawing

In the portrait, you can place the head, eyes, or some other expressive parts of the face on these lines and intersections. In the portrait, you can place the head, eyes, or some other expressive parts of the face on these lines and intersections. When drawing landscapes, it is recommended to place the horizon line on one of the horizontal lines of the grid.

The rule of thirds can also be used to convey movement in an image. To do this, portray a character on one of the vertical lines and leave free space in front of him.

It should be noted that the object does not have to be exactly at the lines or intersections. These are just sample areas where you can position the key objects subject in the artwork.

Of course, in addition to the rule of thirds, there are still a huge number of other options to depict the plot in the artwork. For example, you can depict the main subject exactly in the center, thereby centering the entire image.

So, How to Create a Composition in the Drawing?

When creating a composition in a drawing, you must:

1. Determine the objectives and goals.

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

3. Determine the size of the item and position the 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 drawing, it is necessary to determine the semantic content and objectives of the future artwork. It depends primarily on your ideas and tasks that you are facing at the moment.

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 size of the item and position the 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 artwork, 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 should not touch the edges of the sheet. Also, do not leave too much empty space on the sheet.

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 artwork. 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 significant stage in the process of creating 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 work area intended for drawing. In addition, you can use the camera of a phone or tablet for the same purpose.

So, dear artists, be sure to subscribe to Drawingforall.net on social networks so as not to miss new articles from our team. Also, be sure to share our articles with your friends, and write to us your wishes.


  1. this is complicated but it helped but very hard please can you do it in bits

  2. I absolutely love this site. It has helped me a lot.

    I doubted that it could because the lessons were not video, but your instructions and illustration are very well presented.

    Thank you
    P.S. I am an absolute Beginner.

    1. Thank you very much. The team of our site is very happy when our drawing lessons help our readers learn to draw. We are confident that you will be able to achieve great success in drawing. The main thing is to practice drawing as often as possible.

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