Basics of composition in graphic design

Basics of composition in graphic design

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Basics of composition in graphic design

This article on basics of composition for graphic designers and photographers. In any form of art works a correct layout plays a key role, it is the most accurate method to convey the idea of this product. It means – to highlight the key storylines, to convey mood and to comply the harmony. Composition (from the Latin compositio) and is a combination of these elements into a coherent whole. The same composition may be called the work itself.

Basics of composition in the design. What is the composition?

Intuitive notion of composition is present (in varying degrees) in everyone of us. Otherwise, it would have no meaning. In general, people have a similar perception of harmony, integrity, unity ..

Composition in the design, the composition of the picture, the composition in painting, composition in photography – is inseparable concepts. The composition of music and composition in the literature also have a lot in common with the above, but the means of achieving other.

Artists pay special attention to finding the most expressive compositional schemes. People have been creating various works (including work of art) with a variety of compositional decisions for many centuries. However, in our article about the basics of composition, we will not consider the complex works of art.

Any object can be easily fit into one of three basic shapes: rectangle, triangle, ellipse. So we will work with these.

Composition itself we be considered as the correct arrangement of elements of the picture, based on the study of human perception of visual information.

We will discuss the basics of composition in the design, fine art and photography.

Geometric and compositional centers, highlighter tools of the compositional center, planning of the composition

We build the composition on the plane. Whether it’s picture, a piece of paper or a computer monitor. If we draw two diagonal lines through this plane, the intersection point shows the geometric center of the composition.

Geometric and compositional centers

Any object that is inscribed in the center, will feel quite confident.

Composite center is used to focus the viewer’s attention on the details of the composition. In photography, painting and drawing, as a rule, we allocate subject-composite plot centers. That means, that the main subject of the work is in the composite center. In advertising, the selection of the composite center may be useful to draw attention to the potential buyer to an interesting information. This may be text or an image.

The compositional center and the geometric center of the composition may not be the same.

There may be several compositional points in the composition, while the geometrical center is only one.

Composite center can be highlight with:

  • contrast of light and shadow
  • contrast color
  • size
  • form

Highlighter tools of the compositional center

In classical art, as a rule, subject-composite center is depicted at the background. Foreground acts as a kind introduction, an invitation to take a look at the main event. In the background is the entire contents of the work, and the third continues the main idea, the background, where the action takes.

Basic concepts and rules of composition

Diagonal lines in the composition

Diagonal lines in the composition

Graph on the left indicates growth. Graph on the right is a fall. It so happened. And, accordingly, in composition, diagonal line from the lower left corner to the upper right is perceived better than the line drawn from the upper-left corner to the lower right.

Closed and open composition

In a closed composition, the main directions of the lines tend to the center. Such a composition suitable to depict something stable, immobile.

Elements do not aim beyond the plane, but they are closing in the center of the composition. A view from any point of the composition strives for this center. To achieve this, you can use a compact layout in the center of the composition, framing. Arrangement of elements (in the image – geometric shapes) so that they all point to the center of the composition.

Open composition, in which the directions of the lines coming from the center, giving us the opportunity to continue (mentally) the picture and take it beyond the plane. It is suitable for the transfer of open space and movement.

Closed and open composition

Golden Mean

Different arrangement of the elements in the plane can create a harmonious or inharmonious image. Harmony – the intuitive feeling and the concept of the right position of elements. However, there are several rules that are not intuitive.

Golden Section

Location of simple geometric shapes in the image on the left looks much more harmonious. But why?

Harmony – is consistency. A whole, in which all the elements complement each other. A single mechanism

The largest such mechanism – this world around us, in which all the elements are interrelated – the animals breathe air, oxygen consumption, exhale carbon dioxide, plants use its carbon and energy from the sun for photosynthesis, returning oxygen. Some animals feed on these plants, the other controlling the amount of feed on plants, eating them, thus saving the plant, the water evaporates to fall rainfall and replenish rivers, oceans, and so on ..

Nothing is more harmonious than nature itself. Therefore, understanding and harmony comes to us from her. And in the nature of a huge amount of visual images is subject to two rules: symmetry and the rule of the golden section.

What is symmetry, I think, you know. And what is the golden section?

Golden Section can be obtained, if we divide the segment into two unequal parts in such a way that the ratio of the whole segment for the most part equal to the ratio of a large part of the segment to a smaller. It looks like this:

Obtaining of Golden Section

Portions of this segment are approximately equal 5/8 and 3/8 of the total segment. That is, according to the rule of the golden section in image, the visual centers of the image will be located as follows:

Obtaining of Golden Section

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds

This figure is not met the golden selection, however it creates a sense of harmony.

If we divide the plane on which are our geometric shapes into nine equal parts, we see that the elements are located at the intersection of dividing lines and the horizontal band coincides with the bottom dividing line. In this case, the rule of three thirds works. This is a simplified version of the rule of the golden section.

Rule of Thirds

to be continued


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