Art Composition

Art Composition

Art Composition: Can you Draw a Line?

Art Composition can be summed up in one statement from the man who literally wrote the book that most professional illustrators behold as the holy grail of illustration.

“The Principle of overlapping areas, forms and contours is the basis of all pictorial creation. Since line is our first means of defining these then linear arrangement becomes our first consideration.” – Andrew Loomis

After reading this, art composition should become a little clearer. In its most basic form, composition is the arrangement of line. Since line makes up everything, then this naturally makes sense.


Tip: A great tool when creating composition is a piece of cardboard with a square or rectangle cut in the center. This allows you to frame the picture and will help you develop your vision and eye for how to arrange elements of a piece.


Sure, you may have a theme or emotion in your head that you are trying to get out, but just putting the pencil to the paper and creating that first line whether it is perfect or not is the first step.

“Let your mind be your muse and your hand its tool, not the other way around.”



The next main thing to think about when composition is involved is balance. The piece must be pleasing to the eye.

If the balance is off, you can feel it.

It feels like something should be moved over or removed. This is what you could call cropping. If you have used any sort of image editing software, you have most likely heard of this. It is one of the most basic elements of “framing” a picture. The cardboard tool is great for this as it allows you to dynamically crop what you are viewing and helps you to develop your eye.


When drawing freestyle, just draw!


Try not to get hung up with creating a specific image. The image will show itself when you are done.

Tip: The heavier the mass or weight of the object, the closer to the middle line of the picture it should be. The easiest way to remember this is the bigger the mass, the closer to the center of the picture. The smaller the mass, the farther to the edge of the picture. This creates a sense of equilibrium in the picture.

Create A Path


Another great tip for composition is one that the great masters used all the time. It is creating a path in the composition using line. What does this mean? It doesn’t mean drawing a line from one point of the picture to the other. It is creating a natural path for the eye to enter the picture and be lead around. This is most easily viewed in landscapes. The eye should enter at the bottom of the picture and then naturally continue around to points of interest within the piece. This can be done with skillful use of line.


Again this is best demonstrated thru examples, so here goes.


You will want to avoid leading the eye to the corners of the piece, as they are basically dead ends. Instead you will want to lead the eye around the piece focusing on the subject.


More examples will be covered in my eBook on art composition.


Those are some of the basics of composition. I hope you have learned a little more about how to plan your pieces. For even more in-depth tips and techniques for creating great composition, keep an eye out for my eBook.

(All examples demonstrated on page are from Andrew Loomis – Creative Illustration.)

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