My Favorite Composition Tricks

drawing Oct 17, 2021
How to use composition tricks in art


I'm going to introduce some helpful tools that have greatly helped me with composition in my own artwork because I know that it's an ever-recurring wonder. There are so many ways we can enhance composition and even take advantage of unexpected compositions for added interest! I'm a big fan of learning rules to break rules, so take the following guidelines and run with them!


Use a viewfinder

When you look at a scene, use a viewfinder to help with composition. You can create a viewfinder with paper or you can simply use your hands to create a frame. Practice bringing your hands closer and pushing them farther away to create compositions that are closeups or panoramas. Try changing the orientation of your hands to see the frame in both landscape and portrait views.




Doing this will help you determine the best composition for your piece. Once you figure out how you want your composition, look at its elements as shapes. Then separate the features in halves, thirds, or quadrants. If you’re drawing a beach scene for example, seeing exactly where the water sits on your page along with where the sand lies will help you know where to put these elements.


Rule of thirds in scenery...



This scene is broken up into thirds. The top third is the sky, and the bottom two-thirds are divided by a diagonal line, with the ocean at the top and the sand at the bottom.



Using floral arrangements to study composition...

When drawing or painting, or even hand building flower bouquets, where do you want your focal point to be? What flowers do you want to stand out the most? What mood do you want to evoke? Do you want something classic? Perhaps a carefree, unstructured bunch of wildflowers? Your primary flower is your eye-catcher. You don’t want secondary flowers to drown out a classic bouquet of roses, as the primary flower is what sets the mood. Bouquets are dimensional, so these flowers should be staggered in height and some might sit at an angle or be seen from behind. This is a stylistic choice, just as many other facets of our lessons are.



For example, when we draw flowers with their faces pointed our way, it creates more of a doodle-like effect—playful and youthful.

Style preferences aside, I tend to approach bouquets in steps:


Step 1: I Begin With My Main Flowers


Step 2: I Add My Secondary Flowers


Step 3: I Continue to Build by Adding in Other Flowers, Sprigs and Leaves


Approaching bouquets this way has rarely let me down and I'm usually pretty happy with the turnout.

I hope this overview helps you as you approach composition in your next art sesh! And if you need some help with your florals, check out Botanical Line Drawing or grab yourself a copy of Peggy Dean's Guide to Nature Drawing & Watercolor where I walk you through so SO many pretty flowers and other things found in nature.






If you wanna walk through it with me, these are some of my most-watched classes that include gems on composition across multiple topics:










Come back to this post any time, just pin below!