How to Draw: Create Compelling Compositions | Liz Brindley | Skillshare

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How to Draw: Create Compelling Compositions

teacher avatar Liz Brindley, Illustrator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

20 Lessons (2h 32m)
    • 1. Welcome!

    • 2. Materials

    • 3. Class Project Overview

    • 4. What is Composition?

    • 5. Elements of Composition

    • 6. Rules of Composition

    • 7. Making Successful Compositions

    • 8. Pocket Viewfinder

    • 9. Tips to Build a Composition

    • 10. Cut Shapes Composition

    • 11. Intuitive Pattern

    • 12. Plan an Abstract Composition

    • 13. Plan a Pattern

    • 14. Thumbnail Exercise

    • 15. Digital Art Print

    • 16. Digital Pattern

    • 17. Gathering Inspiration

    • 18. Class Project: Paper

    • 19. Class Project: Digital

    • 20. Thank You & Next Steps

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About This Class

Hey, Pal!

Do you ever feel like composition is an old art-school term that is elusive and unapproachable? 

I totally feel you, and that's why I made this class. 

I don't want you to feel intimidated! I want you to feel empowered to make compositions with ease when you approach a blank sheet of paper. 

In this class, I'm handing over all of my pro-tips and tricks to help you learn how to create compositions from a solid foundation of knowledge and confidence. 

So, dust off those textbooks! We're taking it back to the classroom for this deep dive of a class.


-the elements of composition

-the "rules" of composition and when to break them

-how to identify powerful compositions

-how to improve compositions

-a variety of hands-on creative exercises to practice building compositions

You will walk away from this class with:

a solid foundation for how to create compelling compositions in your illustrations and artwork.


Listed below, and I've also attached a full materials list as a PDF in the "Projects and Resources" section of this class with direct links (these links are affiliate links).

Prismacolor Illustration Markers, Black, Set of 7

Canson XL Mixed Media Pad

9" x 12" size


X-Acto Knife, Scissors, or Paper Cutter

Food Ingredients as Inspiration

Pencil for measuring paper

Construction Paper (color doesn't matter!)

Glue Stick

Sketch Paper: Sketchbook, Printer Paper, or Newsprint

Adobe Illustrator




Meet Your Teacher

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Liz Brindley


Top Teacher



I'm a Food Illustrator in Northern New Mexico. Most days you can find me creating illustrations for clients, teaching online creative classes, cooking up meals with lots of local produce, or exploring local farms for inspiration.


I believe that creativity can give us a greater sense of awareness, peace, and mindfulness for the everyday joys in life. Whether you express your creativity through painting, drawing, cooking, dancing, singing, or raising a family, I believe that we each have creative contributions to give to this world.


My hope is to give you the tools and skills to express your creativity with confidence so that you, too, can share your vision and cra... See full profile

Related Skills

Illustration Creative

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1. Welcome!: Hey, I'm Liz. I'm a food illustrator in Northern New Mexico, and I'm so excited to welcome you here to The Printing Plant Studio. In today's class, you'll learn all about how to create compelling compositions in your illustrations. I know that composition can feel like this elusive, complex, old-school art term. I don't want you to feel intimidated, I want you to feel empowered and confident in your ability to make compositions, which is why I made this class. I'm going to break everything down into digestible bite-size pieces, so that you walk away from this class with all the artsy terminology to throw around at your next dinner party. But also with the ability to create compositions with confidence, from a solid foundation. We'll start this class by diving into the elements that make a powerful composition, as well as the rules of traditional compositions and of course, when to break them. Then we'll practice many hands-on exercises, both on paper and digitally in Adobe Illustrator, to bulk up your composition toolkit. You'll implement everything you learn at the end of this course, with the final class project to create an illustrated cookbook cover. Are you ready? Grab your sketchbook, grab your pen, let's dive in. 2. Materials: In this class, you will learn how to build a composition using pen and paper, as well as how to build a composition digitally in Adobe Illustrator. I've created a materials list in the document attached in the projects and resources section of this class. Feel free to reference it for the names and direct links to gather the recommended tools. For the analog or pen and paper portion of this class, you will need a pen. I recommend the Prismacolor premier illustration markers set of seven in black. I currently prefer this set because these pens create crisp, fluid black lines. There are so many sizes to choose from. You can create small, delicate lines with the 005 size tip or use the brush tip for a thicker fluid line. These pens are also water resistant, which protects your drawings. One of the main reasons I recommend using a pen instead of a pencil for your drawing exercises is that you can't erase your "mistakes." I found in the classes that I teach that many people, myself included, stop too early in a drawing because of the belief that they've messed up. However, when we work with a pen, we can draw confident lines and learn from our mistakes by quickly understanding what doesn't work in a drawing or learning to incorporate the deemed mistakes into our final drawing. This makes way for happy accidents and new discoveries. Embrace the ink and have confidence in your lines. When we work with pen, we have to make it work. This sounds challenging and at times it really is. But it's a great approach to learn through the process. For this class, you will also need multiple sheets of paper for the drawing exercises. This paper can be anything from eight and half by 11 inch printer paper, to sketch book paper, to newsprint. For quick sketches and practice, I prefer printer paper or newsprint. But when I'm creating illustrations on the go or a work of art that I intend to be a final print like the cookbook cover for this class, I love to use a Canson XL mixed media sketchbook. I recommend the nine by 12 inch size of this sketch book for the class. You can easily cut the paper down to the recommended eight by 10 inch size for the final cookbook cover in the class project. For this class, you will also need a pair of scissors, a glue stick, a pencil, and a few sheets of construction paper. Don't worry about the color of the construction paper. Just choose something that is convenient and that strikes your fancy. You'll also need a ruler to measure your paper down to eight by 10 inches for the cookbook cover in the class project. For the digital portion of this class, you will need a pen. Again, the Prismacolor pack is my recommendation. Blank sheets of paper for drawing, access to a scanner, as well as Adobe Illustrator. All right, I think that's it. Gather your materials and let's dive into the class project overview in the next lesson. 3. Class Project Overview: For your class project, you will create an illustrated cookbook cover using the elements of composition we discuss and practice throughout this class. You will have the option to create this cookbook cover with pen and paper, or digitally in Adobe Illustrator, or both. Start thinking of some different foods and cooking tools you might like to include on your final project illustration. I'm thinking I'll draw some frilly mustard greens, definitely a spatula because I love to bake, as well as some other fun veggie surprises that you'll see when we get to the Class Project section at the end of this course. Be sure to upload your final cookbook cover in the Projects & Resources section of this class. When you upload your final cookbook cover, I'd also love for you to include a few photos of your process sketches from the practice lessons throughout the course. This can include your cutout composition, your thumbnail exercises, and examples of your intuitive pattern compositions. I'd also love for you to include your Pinterest inspiration board that you will create in the "Gathering Inspiration" lesson, and a short paragraph about the cookbook cover you are illustrating. Is it a cookbook of family recipes? A cookbook of your favorite recipes? A breakfast only cookbook? Share the story behind your cookbook illustration with your final project. Be sure to upload your final project in the Projects & Resources section of this class. I've also shared some resources documents underneath the Class Project button that include the recommended materials for this class, Skillshare classes that I referenced throughout the lessons to dive deeper into particular subjects, as well as image downloads that we will use in a few of the lessons. Be sure to ask your questions and share your discoveries along the way in the Discussions section. I love hearing from you. In the next lesson, we'll dive into what composition really means and why it's so important. 4. What is Composition?: What is composition? At its most basic definition, composition is how visual elements are arranged on a page. However, the meaning of composition goes much deeper than this, because it is the practice of creating a sense of harmony, unity, and beauty in a work of art. Therefore, composition is not only a tool to guide a viewer's eye across a work of art, but it is also a necessary creative method to communicate a certain feeling or message to a viewer. As Matisse states in Notes of a Painter, composition is the art of arranging in a decorative manner the diverse elements at the painters command to express his feelings. When a composition is not harmonious and not balanced, it can feel bland and uninteresting or chaotic and overstimulating. For example, a very busy composition can feel chaotic, interesting, exciting, or unnerving. Alternatively, simple compositions can feel peaceful, grounding, and other times too empty. A harmonious composition fits in between these two extremes to create a sense of order. A compelling composition can feel like a deep inhale and exhale, a moment of pause and a moment of balance. Some compositions are so powerful that they lead a viewer to be captivated by a work of art, lose track of time and feel a deep sense of connection. The average time a person looks at a piece of art is between 15 and 30 seconds. But a compelling composition can call a viewer to stay with the work of art for 15 minutes or 30 minutes or more. You see, the longer we stay with art, the more we can discover about the work, the meaning, and the artist. All of which give us a deeper sense of connection. I'll bet that you've had a moment like this with a work of art in a museum, on a city street, or in your own home that struck a chord so deeply, you haven't been able to forget it. Take a moment to think back to that time with that specific work of art. Close your eyes and remember the colors, the subjects matter, the arrangement of elements in the image, who you were at that point in time, what you were going through at that point in your life. How did the elements in the artwork relate to one another? How did those elements relate to you? I bet many of the initial feelings you experienced at that time are resurfacing now. That's just how powerful art and composition can be. For me, the art moment that stands out in my mind is so clear. It was when I visited the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum when I was 13 years old. I was in eighth grade and beginning to dabble in art at school, but I never really believed I could become an artist because my drawings, they weren't totally realistic. I thought art had to be rooted in realism. But then at the museum, I turned a corner and saw one of Georgia O'Keeffe's pastel drawings called Pedernal 1945. It stopped me in my tracks and struck something so deep inside of me that all of the other artwork seem to fall away from view. I was captivated. The work showed a landscape, but it showed the landscape in O'Keeffe's style from her unique perspective and approach. This drawing, it wasn't realistic. It was a work of contrast in color between blues and peaches, in shape between geometric ridges of the mountain and the curved organic swoop of an abstract bone. That moment still brings me chills because it was the moment I needed to know that I could be an artist too. It was a moment that showed me that art is not about realism. It's about feeling. It's about connection. It's about creating a bridge between creator and viewer for a moment in time that is shared, remembered, and influential. Have I convinced you? Compelling compositions can call a viewer to pursue a dream, have a new realization, find healing, and slow down to find a deeper sense of meaning. Pretty powerful stuff huh. To begin crafting your own compelling compositions throughout this class, ask yourself some of these guiding questions. How can I use these elements to lead my eye throughout the artwork? How can I place these elements to lead the viewer's eye throughout the artwork? How can I arrange these elements to invite someone to stay with the artwork? How can I convey a certain feeling or emotion using these elements in the artwork? Getting a compelling composition that clicks requires a lot of trial and error and experimentation. There will be a moment when you're creating a composition and it does just click, like two puzzle pieces coming together. When you feel this, and you will, you'll know you've locked into an arrangement that works. We'll walk through many exercises in this class to practice building compositions. But first and foremost, I want to say, trust your instincts. Listen to that inner creative guidance telling you where to place each element in your drawing. Your faith in those creative impulses will strengthen over time and lead you to craft compositions that stick, that are unique to your style. In the next lesson, we're going to talk about the main elements of composition and how to incorporate them into your artwork. 5. Elements of Composition: In this lesson, we're taking it out of the studio and back to the classroom to dive into the elements of composition. Considered as your toolbox to reference as you create your works of art throughout the rest of this class and in your own practice. This might feel like a whole lot of information because it kind of is, but don't let that intimidate you as you begin to build compositions. Don't feel pressured to include every single element or worry about getting it wrong. These elements are guideposts for you to reference when you feel stuck or feel like your composition is missing a certain flair. So just have fun, take it in and experiment. Grab a pen, grab a sheet of paper, and let's jot down some notes in the classroom. Some of the main elements of composition are; balance, movement, rhythm, which can also be referred to as repetition and pattern, focus, and contrast. Depending on where you look, the number of elements might be more than this list, but because many elements can work cohesively together, I've combined them to simplify our exploration today. First and foremost, let's talk about balance. Composition is all about balance. It's about creating a true sense of harmony between different elements in an artwork. When it comes to balance, there are three main categories you can consider when creating your drawings: symmetry, asymmetry, and radial symmetry. Symmetry is when the elements of your drawing are a mirror image on either side of the center of your page. If you were to fold your drawing in half, would the elements completely match up with one another? Symmetry can create the sense of a very balanced composition, but depending on the subject matter, this complete mirrored balance may feel a little lackluster. Asymmetry is when the two sides of your artwork are not a mirror image, but still balance each other out because of the use of visual weight. This balance of visual weight often relies on the element of contrast, which we will discuss more in a bit. This contrast and balance of weight can be accomplished by arranging opposing elements throughout your page; like lighten dark, thick and thin, negative or empty space, and positive or filled space. Small and large sizes of objects, simple and complex subjects. Asymmetry can be used to create compositions that are visually intriguing because while there is still a sense of balance and harmony between varying elements, it isn't immediately obvious how that balance is created. The element of mystery and discovery can keep a viewer engaged with asymmetrical work long enough to find out how that sense of harmony is being conveyed. Radial symmetry is when there is mirrored symmetry around the central axis. For example, a star or the top star on a tomato or a star fish or a quilt pattern. Radial symmetry within a composition can be particularly effective in repeating patterns, which we will practice creating later in this class. Another element of composition is movement. Movement within a composition is all about leading the viewer's eye across your artwork from one element to the next. Compelling compositions are formed from a relationship of elements that keep the viewer's eye engaged through motion across a drawing or around a canvas. Movement is not only about visual guidance, but is also about conveying a feeling in a work of art by adding a sense of energy and activity. For example, in this painting, how do you see movement being conveyed by the artist? There are so many elements of movement happening in this work. The inside out umbrella gives the sensation of the movements of an invisible gust of wind, as well as the woman trying to catch the umbrella before it flies away. In addition, her dress is flowing to the right, which amplifies the sense of movement from a strong gust of wind. The child on the left of the painting is in mid motion with kids who appear to be her friends. She is pointing and her left knee is at a slight bend which makes it appear that she's about to move or run. Further, the ocean waves seem to be crashing in onto the beach, amplifying the overall sense of movement on a windy day. Can you find more elements of movement within this painting? All of these elements come together to create an energized work of art that's full of action. There are many different ways to convey movement in a work of art. You can use repeated textures across an artwork. For example, Van Gogh is known for his use of textured minds made with a thick application of paint and brush strokes. You can also use space on the Canvas to convey movement. For example, Lisa Congdon places the human figure in this artwork in between the sky and the water using splash marks to visually convey that the person is moving through space. You could also add lines behind a subject to show it moving through space. This can have a cartoonish style that quickly and directly conveys where the subject is moving within an artwork. You can also create visual tension to convey movement. This can be done by freezing a moment in time that visually we know can't last forever. For example, in this painting by Degas, the ballerina stands mid pose, standing on one foot, leaning her body forward and using her arms to balance. We know that she can't hold this suspended movement forever and thus there is an element of visual attention that she must drop into a new movement soon. This method of creating mid movement can increase the feeling of tension and drama in an artwork, which leads to a greater sense of intrigue and suspense for the viewer. The next element of composition is rhythm, which can also be thought of as repetition or pattern. This element ties very directly to movement because as we saw, repetition can be used to create a sense of visual movement in an artwork. Just as in music where every song has a specific rhythm, artwork also has different rhythms depending on the artist, the subject matter, and the medium. Rhythm and music is created using a specific spacing of notes. Rhythm in art is created with spacing of different visual elements. There are five main types of rhythm and artwork: regular, random, alternating, flowing, and progressive rhythm. A regular rhythm in art is one in which the same elements are repeated equally in terms of size, spacing, color, and shape. This type of rhythm can feel very balanced and grounding in a work of art, for example, the same tomatoes, in this drawing, at the same color, at the same size, in the same shape, all spaced regularly across this slide. Random rhythm, on the other hand, is when the same elements are used multiple times but without a measured order or arrangement. For example, in this painting, Autumn Rhythm, Jackson Pollock use the same elements of splattered paint, but without a planned arrangement. Alternating rhythm is when two or more elements are repeated every other turn. You could think of a checkerboard or a chessboard, or in this example, the cross-section of the beet, you see the colors of white and pink alternating with each radiating circle. Flowing rhythm gives the sense of elegant and smooth movement across an artwork could do to the use of organic or curved elements. For example, Klimts use of spirals in this painting, Tree of Life, leads the eye vividly across the artwork. Progressive rhythm in artwork is the use of repeating elements that change in one characteristic only, like size or color throughout a pattern. For example, in this work by Andy Goldsworthy, the pebble gets larger as it circles outward from the center of the spiral. So the size changes, but the subject does not. Progressive rhythm can be drastic and dramatic or slow and subtle. For example, the shift in value between these three squares is pretty quick and therefore dramatic, but the shift in value of the same color or hue across 10 squares is more gradual and subtle. Focus, or focal point is another huge element of composition. Focus is where the majority of a viewer's attention goes within a work of art. This could be the first thing the viewer is drawn to, the subject the viewer's eye keeps returning to as it moves around the art or the main message of the artwork. Think about when you get so absorbed in a project that you lose track of time and are completely focused on the task at hand, you suddenly look up and realize 30 minutes, an hour or more have passed. This is the power of focus in composition as well, they can lead the viewer to stay with the work. Focus can be created in a variety of ways including size, color, isolation, creating a sense of the unusual, for example, one circle amidst a group of squares, as well as a tool called subordination, which uses supporting elements to draw attention to and highlight the focal point. This, you can think of it like supporting characters in a novel to the main protagonist. Essentially, subordination means downplaying all elements in the work of art other than the focal point to draw attention to that focal point. So subordination can also be thought of as emphasis. Focus can be applied to realism in artwork in which a subject is recognizable, or it can be applied to abstraction in artwork in which the elements are detached from realism and are more representational, for example, a geometric pattern. An example of a simple yet powerful way to create focus is seen in this VW ad. The car is placed in a sea of negative space. The car becomes the main focal point because it is isolated in the space, no other elements are distracting from the subject. The car is the selling points and that is emphasized by being the only subject aside from the ads text. The viewer's eye knows exactly where to go, no confusion, no fuss, just focus. An example of subordination is this simple tomato illustration. One tomato is filled in with the color red, all of the other tomatoes are only outlines. This allows these shapes to fade into the background and therefore draw more attention and emphasis and focus to the filled-in tomato in the front. Focus helps create a compelling composition because it clearly shows the viewer where to look, which conveys clarity and impact. Another example of focus and compelling composition is found in this painting, Christina's World, by Andrew Wyeth, painted in 1948. Notice where your eye goes first in this artwork. One way to test this, and let's do this together, is to close your eyes. Now, slowly start to open them and take note of where your eyes go first, where they go immediately. It's pretty likely that your eyes first go to the woman, Christina. What makes her the focal point? For starters, the color of her dress is pink, which stands in stark contrast to the rest of the muted color palette of the painting. She is also in the foreground or closer to the viewer than any of the other elements in the painting, therefore, she is the largest subject of all of the elements in the artwork. Further, she is mid movement, which creates the sense of visual attention we discussed earlier. Think for a moment if you were in her position, halfway off the ground, supported only by your arms as if you were about to pull yourself forward. It's this breath of a moment in between actions that creates that tension. Why it's inspiration for the woman in this painting was a woman named Anna Olson who lived on a farm in main. Olson had a degenerative muscular disorder that took away her ability to walk by the late 1920s. She refused to use a wheelchair and thus crawled around the grounds. So here the woman is depicted in the midst of her movement in that moment of tension just before she pulls herself forward again. Just like in the example of Degas ballerina, the artist here creates a moment of visual attention through the movement frozen in time. The movement that the viewer anticipates to shift at any moment. Now, the focal point in this painting is very interesting because it only plays one part in the overall composition. Though your eye first lands on the woman, notice where it goes next. She is gazing off into the distance along an implied or imaginary diagonal line toward the distant farmhouse. Naturally, with curiosity, that leads us as viewers to gaze toward that distant farmhouse as well. Then where does your eye go? Likely to the left, to the other farmhouse or barn in the painting. Then where does your eye go? Back to the initial focal point, the woman in pink. These three main elements in the painting form a triangular composition within the canvas, which is a very powerful way to map out elements in your own artwork. Similar to the rule of thirds, which we will discuss in the next lesson, the triangle can create a sense of intrigue and continuous movement throughout a work of art, rather than feeling visually stuck or stagnant. Further, implied diagonal lines can heighten the sense of movement and energy in a work of art more than implied horizontal or vertical lines. For example, in this painting you can see the horizontal line with the grass, and while your eye might eventually follow that line across the work, the implied diagonal lines of the triangle are stronger and take the first moments of attention and visual movement. Another element that makes Wyeth's painting a compelling composition, is that he incorporates space to balance out the main elements of the work. Rather than filling every single inch of the canvas with buildings or more people, there is a spaciousness of land that provides breathing room for the eye. In fact, you may find that after traveling the implied triangle between the three main elements of the work, your eye wanders into that space to follow the curve of the grassland horizontally, over to the tire tracks and off the canvas, only to be led back into the canvas again because of the powerful contrast of Christina's dress color, the size of her figure and her moment in between movements. Space is so important in order to give the eye a place to rest amidst movement around a composition. When determining the focal point in a work of art, another way to find it is to take note of where your eye continues to return. So as soon as your eye moves from Christina to the farmhouse, try to keep your eyes only on the farmhouse, without moving anywhere else in the painting. My guess is that the pink of her dress and the size of her form in the foreground is calling your eye to move back toward her as the main character in this scene, whether through the triangle we already discussed or backwards along that diagonal line you traveled to get to the farmhouse. As you build compositions throughout this class and look at other examples of artwork, notice if any elements distract you from the intended focal point. These elements can lead your eye away from the focus, which can be confusing and leave the viewer feeling uncertain of where to look. Typically, you don't want this feeling of distraction or competing elements in a composition unless it's for the purpose of increasing visual attention, or conveying a specific message like dizziness or chaos. But as we'll discuss in the next section, these rules can be broken and played with, so trust yourself and experiment. We've mentioned contrast a bit already in the previous elements of composition. It's such a powerful tool to create that tension we've been discussing, to make an artwork really visually engaging. Contrast is like the drama. It's where, contrast of color, or value like light and dark, size, subject matter, texture like smooth and rough, and shape, geometric and organic or curved. Those are all examples of contrast. A quick note on color. Color is incredibly important for contrast in art. In fact, it's so important that my next class here on skill share is all about color, so take that as soon as it's available. But for the purposes of this class, we won't dive into that topic too much, and instead continue to focus on black and white drawings, to develop our skills in composition. Other elements to consider when building your artwork, and composition are space, as I mentioned, it can refer to both positive or filled space, and negative or empty space. We talked about space briefly with movements and also in the example of Christina's World. The use of space, and how the elements are placed within that space are crucial for a compelling composition. For example, the Think Small ad, alternatively, in Van Gogh's "Starry Night", there is a lot of movement, and much of the canvas is filled with textured paint marks. The flow of these marks and the repetition, creates a fluid path for the eye to follow, but there is much less use of empty and negative space for the eye to rest. Boundaries' a powerful tool to guide the placement of the elements within your composition. A boundary might be the edges of a canvas, the edges of your paper, a traditional rectangular frame, or it might be an irregular shape that you cut out of paper. The boundary can be the first clue on your creative map for how to lay out the elements of your drawing. Boundaries can sometimes feel restrictive, but remember that boundaries breed creativity. There are a few ways to consider how to work with them when building your illustrations. For example, you could place all of your elements within the given boundaries so that the entire visual image is contained within the space. Or you could make certain elements run off of the page, or run outside of the boundary. This can be really visually interesting, and a tactic that leads the viewer in and out of the artwork, causing more movement in the piece. Lastly, you could incorporate the boundary, depending on what it is, into your overall work of art. For example, some painters like Georgia O'Keeffe, would occasionally paint their frames to match their painting. This way, the frame, or the boundary becomes part of the artwork to form a complete whole. Adding to that overall harmony of the composition, rather than the frame or boundary distracting from the imagery of the artwork. With illustration, you can think of incorporating your boundary into your drawing in a few ways. For example, if you are working on a black and white drawing for a traditional art print that you intend to be framed, you could select a white frame that practically blends in with your paper, so there's a seamless transition in between the drawing and that frame. Or if you are working on an illustration for both the front and back of a book or magazine cover, you could play with wrapping part of your image from the front, across the spine and over to the back, so that there's a seamless transition between the different spaces of the boundary of the cover. Or you could emphasize the border in an artwork to create an additional element of interest. This could be accomplished by adding an illustration around the border of the artwork like vines, or flowers, or an abstract geometric pattern. You could also create a border that is just negative space, to give more breathing room to the work. This can add more attention and focus on the subject matter. Like you see with this white border around the abstract soil Illustration. These are just a few ideas to get you going about how borders and boundaries play a big role in the creation of your compositions, and can create even more compelling layouts of your artwork. Whether a composition feels busy or simple, it depends on some of the elements we already discussed, including movements. For example, a lot of movement can feel really hectic. Space. Art work with a lot of elements and no negative or blank space can feel busy. Artwork with too much negative space can feel flat, or uninteresting. Rhythm. For example, random rhythm of haphazard elements can feel really busy, a balanced rhythm of the same element can feel grounding, or sometimes too simple. Again, it's all about finding the balance between extremes to convey the feeling you want to communicate with your art. For example, you might be creating an illustration of a city street in, let's say, New York, and want to capture the active energy that you see. If that's the case, then you would want to maximize the use of movement, positive and filled space, and the bustling rhythm of many elements within the work, whether those are people, bikes, cars, food trucks or all of the above. On the other hand, perhaps you're wanting to create a drawing that gives your viewer a sense of peace and calm. You might be inspired by the spaciousness of a garden in the early morning light. In this case, you would want to include fewer elements with greater focus on negative space, giving the eye a place to rest, producing a slower overall rhythm between the elements of the artwork to convey a slow and calm feeling. The way you place elements together will inevitably convey a certain emotion, or message. Consider what that is, and what tone you wish to share with your viewer. As we move forward, you will likely use many different elements from this list in your compositions, all in the aim to create that sense of balance, and unity, and harmony. As we move forward, remember that some helpful questions to ask when you observe and build your work are, how do the elements lead my eye throughout the artwork? Do the elements invite me to stay in the work, or do they lack balance and interest? Does something feel out of place? Or does everything fit together harmoniously? Again, when it clicks, you'll know it. It's like a little heart click or flutter when you've placed an element and suddenly everything flows. Don't get discouraged If you don't feel it, often times, it comes after frustration, after trial and error, and after stepping away from your work long enough to return later with fresh eyes. When I'm getting to that frustration point, I often like to take a walk in nature, and come back and look at the work again, and I'll find a new solution, a new step to take. Keep working with it until you find that balance, and know that you'll learn from each composition that you make. In the next lesson, we're going to talk about the traditional quote-on-quote rules of composition, and of course, when to break them. 6. Rules of Composition: We're going to dive into some traditional rules of composition. But first, I want to share that while rules are useful, there are definitely times when they are meant to be broken. But it's very helpful to learn the rules, to know which ones to break, and when as you develop your own creative style. Georgia O'Keeffe and Picasso were two of many artists who developed a solid foundation of the art rules and had traditional training. But then they forged their own path using that knowledge as a starting point, but they broke it for their own creative visions of the world, which is exactly why we still talk about their artwork today. Picasso said, "Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist." That's what we'll do. Keep this in mind as we go over some traditional rules of composition to consider. For starters, the rule of thirds is a guideline that uses a grid of nine equal squares within a boundary. These squares are formed by two equally spaced vertical lines and two equally spaced horizontal lines. The rule is that the most important elements in a composition should be placed along these lines and at the intersection of them. This helps to create more tension and intrigue in a composition rather than if subjects were centered just right in the middle. The rule of space is applied to create a sense of movement, energy, or resolution in a work of art. This is about incorporating that negative space we talked about around your subject. This applies if you have one central subject, but it can also work in repeating patterns. This rule indicates that negative space can draw more attention to your subject matter, provide that breathing room we discussed, and amplify the sense of movement within your artwork. It can give the viewer's eye that place to rest and allow them to spend more time with your drawing. Simplification is all about reducing the amount of detail within an artwork to get down to the essential elements. This can also be cut off as when to stop with the drawing, which can really be a challenge because it's often tempting to keep working and reworking a piece until it's perfect. However, sometimes simpler can be better. Georgia O'Keeffe's said, "Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis that we can get at the real meaning of things. Remember, we're really trying to convey the emotion and the feeling in artwork, and sometimes reducing the distraction of detail can help to do that. Simplification is that idea. Less is more and that message can be powerfully communicated with fewer details. It takes practice, trust, and daring vulnerability. It can actually be really complex to achieve simplicity because it's a human tendency to want to fill up empty spaces. Whether that's an empty shelf in a new home, silence in a conversation, or a canvas in a studio. However, there's meaning and power to simplicity, so dive into it. For more on reduction of detail and crafting simplicity, you can visit my class, "How to Draw: Learning Line". All of these rules are like recipes when you're learning how to cook. At first, you may start with cookbooks, but as you practice from the guidelines of different dishes, you'll learn what spices naturally go well together. What veggies pair well, and perhaps most importantly, your own unique palette and tastes. Perhaps, you prefer your meals a bit spicier than recipes call for, or you don't like a certain flavor at all, so you just leave it out. The same goes when you're creating art. Start with the rules or the recipes, find what you love and what you don't totally dig. Start to deviate from the recipe to confidently experiment with your own style. In the next lesson, we'll take a look at some examples of composition and talk about how to improve the feeling of balance in a work of art. 7. Making Successful Compositions: It's one thing to talk theory and another to implement elements into action. Much of composition is about practice, trial and error, learning as you go. You will find what you like and learn how different elements can fit together to convey that harmony and balance. I personally believe that there is no right or wrong in artwork, just different approaches and styles and preferences. As you create, rather than asking, am I doing this right? Better questions to ask are, is this working? Is this creating balance and unity? Is this my style? Is this what I like? Let's take a look at a few examples of different compositions, including ones that can be improved. As we go through these, pay attention to when you feel that puzzle piece click we talked about. This is your clue to the compositions that you find compelling. Look at the elements we've discussed in these works of art and notice how you can incorporate them into your own drawings. For example, when we look at this illustration, you can see that there's a sense of movement created vertically by the placement of the apples. There's a slight curve to the apples, which leads the eye from this larger one down through this pattern to the larger one down here. There's also a sense of alternating rhythm happening because of these two colors; the darker red and then this really light pink, so there's a nice sense of rhythm happening there. However, there's a moment of interest because there's this extra apple thrown in. If you take your finger and cover that apple with your thumb, you can imagine what this composition would look like without that subject. That creates a little bit of a sense of asymmetrical balance, because there's this extra apple offset from this main mine of apples. That just creates a little bit more intrigue and helps the viewer's eye to carry through this section of the apples as well as move off the page here. Another element that we see that we'll talk more about with our class project on the cookbook cover is this text right here. Text can be a part of a composition incorporated with the elements of imagery. This text becomes part of the focal point of this work because the apples are placed around it in this half semicircle, and that's almost like it's cradling the text to draw your attention there as well. Another place and source I really love to go for inspiration for composition and design is food and nature. When I'm feeling particularly stuck on a piece of artwork and illustration, I like to go whip up a quick meal and just take time while I'm cooking to really observe my food. If I'm cutting up a kale or tearing up some lettuce, I really look at that subject and look for the elements of design and composition that we're talking about today. Or I might go for a walk and look for plants and look for evidence of design in my natural surroundings. I encourage you to do that too, if you're feeling stuck or even just looking for inspiration. A lot of the elements of design and composition that we're talking about are found all around us every day, especially in food and the natural world. For example, when we look at this orange slice close-up zoomed in, I'm curious what elements of composition you see. Just take a moment to look at it and then tell me more or jot down the elements that we've discussed, whether that's focal point movement, balance, rhythm. When I look at this, my eye is immediately drawn to this center star shape, so that becomes the focal point of this composition. But then, my eye follows these lines outward towards the edge of this photograph, so that becomes a sense of movement, especially with these lines that are more curved and organic within each slice. There's a nice sense of contrast happening between these straight linear lines of this slice and the internal lines that are curved and organic. That creates a nice sense of contrast. There's also a sense of balance, because if we were to cut this in half right here, it would be fairly symmetrical, folded in half. All of those elements of competition are coming into play. Are there any more that you see or any more that you're finding? If so, please drop them in the discussion section because I would love to hear your observations. Another example can be found in the spinach leaves. This is from a local farm, and I particularly love this variety of spinach, Bloomsdale spinach, because it's so luscious with the lines. It's like a line drawing, a work of art. What you can see here is that these lines are like ridge lines or like little hills on mountain tops. They're like crevices that you could walk in. When we look at this, it's not totally symmetrical. That's what I love about each Bloomsdale leaf, is they're all very unique and they curl around themselves in different ways. But what does happen is that the centerline is the thickest line that we can see, and so that becomes somewhat of a focal point in this spinach leaf, and it creates a sense of balance too, because it asks us to visually fold this leaf over that line, fold it over itself. There's not total symmetry, but there's a sense of balance on either side of the line. What happens, from focusing in on this thicker line, is that just like in the orange slice, our eye starts to follow these other lines radiating out towards the edges of the leaf. We can follow those lines all across the surface of this leaf and move around this work as if it's a composition. Now, there's not contrasting color happening between different colors, and we'll dive more into color in a different class later, but I do want to touch on that. This is all green, it's a green spinach leaves, but you can see how there's different values and shades of green happening in this leaf because of the lighting. That's fine because that starts to play with how many colors you can get from just one color, and how there can still be contrast between a really light, almost white, shade of green all the way to these deep dark, almost black, shades of green. Let's talk briefly about how to improve certain compositions. I was working on this soil illustration, a close-up abstraction of soil. When I was working on this pattern, I was drawing each piece individually, and I stopped here for a moment because I was really asking myself, do I want to leave this breathing room around the pattern? Do I want to leave these blank white spaces? I thought about doing that for a while, but then I returned to the question that I'm encouraging you to ask, which is, what feeling do I want to convey to the viewer? What I really wanted to happen with the interaction with this work, was I wanted the viewer to feel like they were fully absorbed in this one section, this one patch of soil. I wanted to have the artwork feel like it was a microscopic view, like you were looking through a microscope at one section of soil and look totally almost like you had blinders on, like you were just in that space. I decided to throw it out towards the complete edges of the paper, so I continued the pattern all the way to the edges. But then what I did when I prepared to make this a print for sale, as I did add a white border around the edge. I do that sometimes, especially if it's a relay for patterned prints, just a art print for sale. I do add this border sometimes just for a little visual breathing room, even though there's not a lot of negative space in the artwork itself. Sometimes I like to add it around the edges just to give a breath and applause. This is another example of thinking about composition and how to improve it and really be in the midst of the process. So I drew this illustration of raspberries a few years ago, and I have drawn a few elements, there's one more that you'll see in a moment. But I played with just cropping in on these two, the halved raspberry and the full raspberry. But I really felt like something was missing and like this was lacking a sense of interest and the balance that I was looking for, so I cropped back out to the initial drawing which included this enlarged cross-section. Now, what's interesting about this work is that this isn't realism. I mean the cross-section of a raspberry would not be larger than the raspberry itself. But I really liked to zooming in and looking at the abstraction and being funky and weird and wild with it and making it the largest portion of the drawing. Having met at the base of this drawing, really balanced out the other two smaller elements. Over here, when I just cropped in on these two, they're about equal in size. They're pretty similar in size, so that wasn't the interest I was looking for, and adding this larger piece to the bottom really gave more the balance that I was seeking in the composition. When I first illustrated this, I did allow the illustrations to run off the page, and I like to do that sometimes so that the viewers eye can travel around the edge of a specific drawing and then circle back in. So that's what I did here. In Christina's World, again, we see the focal point coming into play here with her body, her form being in the foreground being the largest subject in the painting. We also have a sense of movement happening based on where the elements are placed throughout the painting. In Starry Night, we have a nice sense of movement based on the brush strokes that Van Gogh has applied to the Canvas. So their textured brush strokes which really create this fluid flowing rhythm to the work of art, a fluid flowing organic movement. There's no a lot of negative space happening in this composition, but it's still quite common because our eye can move really fluidly throughout the Canvas. In this Surface Pattern design by Elena Wilken, who I love her work so much. This is a repeating pattern. With surface pattern design, rather than our eye resting just on one focal point, it continues to move throughout the whole pattern. This pattern might be on wallpaper or a fabric or a gift wrap. So our eye is asked to stay in rhythm and in movement. So when you're thinking about creating a repeating design, it's important to think about how to pull in elements of composition that contain intrigue and interest without being too overwhelming. In this work with the sunflowers, the sunflower is the subject matter and there's a nice sense of rhythm happening here. But rather than Elena using the same exact size and the same exact angle of each sunflower head, she's vary the sizes, and she's also, on this one, you can see how she's turned some of the leaves in so it's as if the sunflower head is at an angle. That creates a little bit more interested in the movement of our eye from the different sizes and the different angles of the sunflower, as opposed to if it was all just the size and shape repeated exactly the same across. Also she has some nice use of negative space because if you squint at this work, you start to see that off-white background shine through. But what Elena has done here too is add a little bit more interest with these botanical, floral elements, fitted into that negative space. That adds a little bit more intrigue than if those were completely gone. Again, just like we did with the apple, is this is a fun tip and a fun game to play when you're looking at works of art, is to use your finger or your hand just to cover up some portions of the work to see how it changes your eye and the interaction of your eye with the work of art. How does it change the feeling of the composition? How does your eye move differently when those elements are covered up? That can be a really good exercise when you're creating your own compositions to figure out what elements are really working and what could be left out. Something else Elena has done here is she's not including every single detail that you might see in a sunflower. She's really looking at the subject and turning it into her own style, and one of the ways she's doing that is eliminating detail and moving in towards simplicity. That helps to lessen what could be too chaotic of a repeating pattern. When there's less detail, it can give our eye more moments to rest throughout the movement of this repetition. This is another repeating pattern by the same artist, and this is quite different as we can see. This work feels a bit busier. But busy in a composition isn't necessarily a bad thing. It can be really energetic and playful and fun. So what Elena has done here is she's shrunk down some of these floral elements. They're not as large as the sunflower heads. Much of this are smaller and so they're all fairy much the same size, or are in that same size range here. They're really close together so there's not a lot of negative space or breathing happening, but it gives the piece a sense of playfulness rather than chaos. One of the way she's creating that playfulness is the use of color, the way she's organizing and positioning each of these shapes, so some are facing up, some are facing down, there all going different directions. Another thing that happens and that you can think about in building a pattern and using elements of composition is that in a piece that's more filled like this and busier, you can provide the eye an anchor or a sense of grounding by really playing off of the repeat. So in a surface pattern, there is a repeat, and when you look for it, you can start to find it. Here we see these two red flower elements. We see them repeated here. So you can look up here and see this gray flower element repeated here. That actually gives the eye essence of grounding and that sense of rhythm that we talked about in a composition, because it's like a beat, it's like one , two, and if this were a longer piece of fabric, we could say three, four. So amidst the busyness and amidst the filled space, our eye has a place to go back to create that sense of rhythm and consistency. Again, coming back to balance, that can help to balance more filled spaces in the composition. Of course Elena is using color here to add to the playfulness with the reds, but she's also turning that down with these nice neutral grays and these calmer golden yellows. So she's creating a nice sense of balance with color, and really just making this a very playful composition and using the positioning of all the elements to create a sense of movement. In the next lesson, we're going to make a tool that can lead to discoveries of compositions in your everyday surroundings. You're going to see the world in a whole new way. 8. Pocket Viewfinder: This lesson is a pro tip I want to share with you so that you can start looking at your surroundings in subjects with a fresh perspective. It's really easy for our brains to get stuck on how we think something looks. For example, when I say flower, you may have a generic image of a flower come to mind. But when you actually get up close and personal with the subject, you'll begin to discover a new details that are visually intriguing. It can be really challenging to break out of our traditional way of seeing to view something familiar with new eyes. But this tool that I'm about to share helps you do just that. In this lesson, we're going to create a viewfinder that you can carry around with you on walks in your neighborhood, when you go out on errands, or simply at home to start seeing new compositions around you all the time. To start, grab a sheet of blank paper or construction paper and your scissors. Cut a slit in one portion of your paper, and then slide your scissors into this slit to cut a rectangle. You can make this rectangle thin or thick, but I would recommend not making it too large. Here, I have this rectangle cut from the paper, and now I'm going to cut a square boundary around it to get rid of some of the excess. You can save that excess paper for future sketches. Now, I have a viewfinder. This tool looking at the world through a camera. Start to hold your viewfinder at arm's length and look around the room you are currently in. Settle on one subject and look at it through this tool. Move the viewfinder left, and right, and up, and down to capture different portions of this subject. Notice how this one subject you are observing can fill the rectangle in many different ways. With this exercise, you get to observe many different compositions all around you that can serve as learning opportunities and inspiration for your illustrations. So carry your viewfinder around your house and practice looking through it at different subjects. Carry it with you on a walk to view natural subjects with a new perspective as well. Just take note of how these different subjects fill the viewfinder and move your eye through the rectangle. Notice which snapshots create compelling compositions full of interests and which fall flat. Just jot these observations down in your sketchbook to reference as we dive into more exercises. In the next lesson, we're going to discuss my main tips to begin building your composition. 9. Tips to Build a Composition: We're about to dive in with pen and paper in the next exercise, but I want to share some tips that can help you lay a foundation for building that composition. Though color plays a big part in building a composition, it's a subject that totally requires its own class, so I recommend for the purposes of this particular class, just stick to line drawing and don't worry about color just yet. If you'd like to learn more about line drawing, you can visit my class, How to draw: learning line and also Peggy Dean's class Botanical Line Drawing. Line drawings are a great place to start, because you can build up your drawing from this one foundational step. For each drawing that I create, I like to build up the elements one by one. For example, rather than drawing some lines and adding shading and then drawing more lines and then adding color, I typically work pretty systematically, starting with simple line drawings and then exploring where value, contrast and color can be added. I recommend building your drawings and illustrations one step at a time. Which is why I've divided this how to draw series into three classes delving into line, composition and color. Just a pro-tip, a quick rundown of my process, which you may want to grab bits and pieces of. It looks like this. One, pick your subject matter. Usually this for me is, when I see a really beautiful vegetable fresh from my partners farm or while I'm cooking food. Number 2 is grab my prismacolor pen and make a few line drawings of the subject in my sketchbook. Number 3 is, to reflect on these initial sketches. I like to set them up, stand back, squinter the paper, take a moment with the initial drawings to think about how I can make them more interesting, more abstract, simpler. Then, I begin placing the subjects on a new piece of blank paper, into a composition using only those line drawings. Sometimes if I'm happy with that line drawing, I'll stop there. Other times I'll begin to fill in certain areas with ink to create contrast or I'll move into selecting and applying colors. That's how I work on paper. When I'm working digitally, I scan those initial sketches into Adobe Illustrator and I vectorize them, and then I start playing around with composition and color. I'll walk you through all that later in this class. Think about your subject matter first, that you want to include in your drawing, and how much detail you intend to incorporate. As you observe your subject before drawing, consider which details could be eliminated as needed, and which you find essential to the artwork. Next, consider the message or the meaning you wish to convey, think if it's a specific feeling you want to show with the artwork. Consider the elements of composition that you could use to get that point across, or perhaps you're working on an abstract pattern, and in this case, do you want it to feel calm, busy, mysterious? Consider your message and how you can use the toolkit you've been building to share it. We talked about borders being a really important element of composition. I always like to give myself a set boundary to work with in when I start out, whether that's the edges of my paper or a shape I draw in my paper. Any border you choose gives you a starting point and helps with layout. You could start with just elements, but then it feels a little bit like floating in space. The boundaries that are typical for me to choose to start with are, an 8 by 10 inch piece of paper, an 8 by 8 inch square, or a 10 by 10 inch square. Because these are all the typical art print sizes that I use that could be framed. You could also choose a funky frame that is more atypical, like an oval or an abstract shape. Well, practice both of these throughout the lessons in this class. We have a solid foundation, and it is time to put pen to paper. We're going into the studio, grab your materials.. In the next lesson, we're going to start building compositions. 10. Cut Shapes Composition: This exercise is a really helpful warm-up to craft and visualize different compositions. To get started, you'll need your scissors, construction paper, a glue stick and a sheet of blank white paper. To begin, draw a variety of abstract shapes on your construction paper. Create shapes of various sizes, create geometric and organic or curved shapes. This is going to be your shape library to begin building your compositions. For example, I've created this assortment of shapes, I cut out triangles of different sizes, squiggles, circles, curved forms that remind me of some underwater plant. When you have your assortment drawn on your construction paper, cut out each shape. Once you've cut them, begin to place them on your blank paper, don't glue anything down just yet, just play and experiment with arranging your shapes on the paper in different ways. This gives you a lot of flexibility and freedom to see what flows and how to combine the elements to create a sense of balance and harmony. Start with one element and build up from there [MUSIC]]. When you're happy with your layout, you can begin gluing your shapes to your paper. Wallah, you've created a composition. Take a photo or scan this to the class project section so we can see your process in action. In the next lesson, we'll use pen and paper to build a pattern composition. 11. Intuitive Pattern: In this lesson, we're going to make an intuitive pattern composition. What do I mean by that? This is a really useful tool in starting practice because it gets you out of your head and helps you trust the conversation between your heart and your hand. Rather than going into this with a set plan, we're going to build the composition one element at a time. To begin, draw an abstract irregular shape on a sheet of blank white paper. This is your boundary. Now begin to fill this boundary with a variety of shapes. You can start in the center or you could start at the edge. Within this boundary, that's abstract boundary, I'm going to start over here on the left and I'm just going to start to mimic and mirror the lines that I already see just as a starting point. Those initial lines can really guide where your irregular pattern, your intuitive pattern is going to go. This is just really about building out the shapes intuitively. I'm really not overthinking each step, I'm just allowing my hand, my eye, my brain, my heart to guide the next shape. I'm leaving some space in between these lines, but all of our patterns are going to look different. But it's a fun puzzle. The shapes start to fit into each other. Don't worry about it being perfect. Just play. Now once you've filled in that space with your pattern, you can start to add in a little bit of contrast with values. I'm going to use this chiseled tip marker because it's thicker and there's a lot of control here for filling in certain shapes. I'm going to start to just intuitively fill in certain areas. Here, I like what's happening between these two shapes. How they're close to touching, but not quite. I like the alternating between the dark and light value down here. Now I'm looking at these circles and I'm going to start filling in some of these. I'm really thinking as I go through these, at first, I thought I would do every other, but I want to do all of them because I want them to fill like there's a strong foundation or strong grounding to this piece. I feel like the weight of this contrast, this darker value brings the eye down. That's not just floating up here in all these shapes, it gives some root to everything, but I don't want to fill it in the square course I want contrast between the two. You can start to fill in or even thickened some of the lines that you've made. That's a really great way to add contrast to. You can start to fill in certain areas to add more intrigue and the value differences for more interest visually in the composition. I like that. As you look at this and as you look at your own piece, you can start to ask, is it out of balance? Is there another area that I can add some contrast too to make it more imbalanced? I'm seeing that there's a lot of weight to visually up here. What that means to me is I want to see if it's counteracted over here and it is somewhat with these bottom circles. But then I'm looking at, can I add a little bit of weight, maybe even to the outline of the shape that's not off limits? I like that. Now I feel like there's more balance across the whole pattern. In the next lesson, we will dive deeper into practicing some of the composition rules we discussed earlier in this class. 12. Plan an Abstract Composition: For this exercise, you will use a selection of provided shapes that I'm going to give you to build an abstract composition. This is a really good practice to focus on how to balance elements within a composition without the added decisions of realistic subject matter or a specific meaning of a work of art. Here are the elements we are using in this exercise. You get to pick and choose which elements you draw on your paper and which you leave out. You can also repeat some of the shapes. For example, I might choose to use the small square fiber 10 times in the artwork and leave out a majority of the other shapes. This is really a choose your own adventure exercise, working with the shapes provided. So much of building compositions is creative decision making. With each composition that you create, try new approaches and new avenues to look for different ways to create that strong sense of balance and harmony. To begin, grab a blank sheet of white paper, a pencil, a pen, and a ruler. We're going to start by practicing that rule of thirds we discussed earlier. I have cut my paper down to a six by nine inch size, but this will work with whatever size you are using. The distances just might be different numbers than in this example. To start, I want to divide the height and width of my paper by three. So for the nine inch side of my page, I'm going to make a mark at three inches and another mark six inches. For the six inch side of my page, I'm going to make a mark at two and four inches. Now, I'm going to connect these lines across the page very lightly with my pencil so I can erase them later using my ruler. Now I have the rule of thirds grid. As we discussed, if I'm following this rule, then I will place one of my main shapes, say, this large circle at the intersection of these lines rather than directly in the center of the page. Then I'll use these lines to guide the placement of my other elements as well. I can begin to use these lines as a guide to place the shapes in relationship to one another. Then when I'm happy with the placement, I can erase the lines and because we're using a pen, the shapes will stay. Here, I just followed this left line on the rule of thirds to align these elements together. That can be really helpful just to keep everything on a linear pathway, and those are counterbalancing this circle that's over here at the cross-section of these lines. I don't want to put anything directly under this circle, because then I feel like it will be too even, but I am going continue placing smaller circles from those examples up this line. So now the eye is following this linear pathway, and then I'm thinking about over here to follow the line off of the page, and I'm going to play with elongating some of the squares into rectangles. I could keep playing off of this grid, of course you can fill in the space in between the grid, that's just a starting point for moving forward in your drawing and laying things out. Once I was happy with the overall composition, now I feel like it's too weighted over here, so what could balance that out here is to fill in the circle, give that more visual weight or add in some more small circles around this larger circle. Because then that begins to mirror the circles over here, so there's a little bit more balance. This feels a little too chaotic for my personal preference, but again, this is just experimentation, learning what works, what you like, and how to create balance in that composition. Once I'm happy with the placement of my elements, I can erase the lines like they were never there. Now it's your turn. Start to place elements from this assortment throughout the grid you've created. When you're happy with the layout, erase the pencil grid lines and snap a photo or scan of your drawing to upload into the class project section at the end of this class. Great job, but I have a little secret to share with you. I honestly never draw the rule of thirds lines on my paper. I personally prefer to build compositions more intuitively, but I wanted to share this technique because it can be a really helpful visual aid to get started, and it can also help if you feel stuck in the midst of crafting and artwork and need direction on the next step to take. So let's grab another blank sheet of paper, any size. Using the same shapes from this grouping, we're going to build a composition without those grid lines. Depending on your approach to art making, this may feel a little bit like jumping into the deep end without a sense of guidance, but here are some helpful points to consider for a bit of a plan before you completely dive in. What is your main subject? Though we are using abstract shapes, think about which shape you want to be the focal point. This is the shape that you want to draw the most attention to in your work. For example, as I look at these options, I might choose the large circle again to be that focal point of my drawing. How will you use supporting elements to draw attention to the focal point? I'm thinking of creating a sense of repetition using the smaller circles to lead to the larger circle, or surrounding the edge of the large circle with the smaller circles. Not only does this place emphasis on the main subject, but it also creates that sense of contrast using differences in size. Your choice of elements can serve multiple purposes in building that composition. How will you choose to crop your composition? Cropping ties to boundary, which is an incredibly important elements of compelling balance and harmony. Cropping is how you choose to place the artwork within its boundary. So will you choose to cut off parts of the subject? Here I'm choosing to start, again, no grid lines, I'm choosing to start with a large circle that's cut halfway by the page. So that leads the eye off already, and then I'm thinking about leading the eye across the page with some repeating elements, some of the smaller circles. They don't have to be in the exact line. This is just winding in a curved form throughout the page. So now that I can follow from that corner down here to this half circle happening. Now, something you can start to play with is similar to that intuitive pattern exercise we did. I can draw smaller half circles within that main boundary. Then that, what's the next step? That felt like the right thing to do. So now I have that, and then you can also play with turning your subject. Here, I actually like that arrangement a little better, and to create more balance, I'm going to add circles on either side. Now there's a little bit of symmetrical balance feeling right here, and then it goes up here, and it goes off of the symmetrical balance and just often to the corner. I like what's happening there, and you can just keep turning your page and that can help to inform the composition. You can see with this example that the elements are leading the eye off of the page in two directions. But if we were to flip this over and contain everything within this space, then that would have a totally different effect of how our eye visually moves across the artwork. For example, if that large circle happen just here and wasn't cut off, then rather than moving the eye with the circles off to the corner, it still create movement to the main circle, that focal point, but this is a more rigid and geometric pattern of circles than that fluid one we were looking at. This is informing now different decisions. Since we're staying within the boundary of the page, I'm starting to think about how, now I could have used a ruler for this, but think about how lines could add a sense of symmetry here. Again, you can play with turning your paper in different directions to see how that affects the eye, but you can see here that this is a more contained piece within the boundary, not running off the page, so our eye is just moving between the elements rather than running off and coming back on. As you can see with these examples, both options lead to entirely different works of art that move your eye across the page in entirely different ways. Both examples work, but they work very differently. So experiment with your elements running off the page and staying contained. See what you prefer. Your preference will also likely shift depending on subject matter and the message you want to convey. Another key question to consider while thinking about your composition is, how will you create balance using different modes of contrast? In this example, I've already used one moment of contrast with size, the large and small circles and value to create contrast, filling in some of these shapes and leaving some empty. For contrast, think about if you want to balance geometric and organic shapes, positive and negative space, small and large shapes. Think about how you can create some visual oomph by upping the tension between these different elements. All right, awesome work. Snap a photo or scan your image to upload with your class project. In the next lesson, we'll talk about how to build a pattern on paper using the elements of composition. 13. Plan a Pattern: In this lesson, we'll be creating another pattern. But rather than approaching it from an intuitive practice as we did earlier, we will go through some preliminary planning using the elements of composition. In this exercise, we're going to use the same selection of shapes from the last lesson to build a patterned composition. So rather than having a singular focal point that is supported by many elements, we are creating a pattern that repeats its design to create a sense of continuity and flow between elements. When patterns are printed as repeats on fabric or wallpaper, for example, the eye typically continues to move throughout the entire design rather than focusing on one singular point. Take a moment to look for any patterns in your immediate surroundings. These might be on a blanket, a couch cushion, a greeting card, or a coffee mug. The pattern might even be the spiraling of a flower outside your window or the repetition of blades of grass. Patterns are all around when we slow down and take time to look. Let's get started making our own pattern. For this exercise, grab a blank sheet of paper, select only three elements from this assortment of shapes that we've been using. Selecting a limited number of shapes can provide more creative solutions to the exercise, while also taming the overwhelm of trying to incorporate too many details, coming back to simplifying and simplicity. Now, I'm going to draw these on paper, starting with the large square. In my head, I'm starting to plan to repeat this across the page at a diagonal. This will be my guiding first step. Now, I'm thinking of how to incorporate the elements of composition that we've been discussing into this pattern. Namely, I'm thinking about how to create contrast as well as create enough negative space that this pattern doesn't begin to feel overwhelming and busy. I also want to create enough movement and rhythm between shapes to keep the pattern interesting. For added contrast, I might fill in certain shapes to make them that darker value. I will also utilize smaller circles to contrast those large squares. For movement and rhythm, the larger repeating squares will lead the eye across the paper and act as the anchor of the piece. Though there is not one singular square is a focal point because it is the dominating shape in terms of size, it will likely draw the most attention and be supported by the other two elements. Based on my initial plan, this is what ended up happening, and to be quite frank, I'm not happy with it. Even though I have this idea of the large squares coming across at a diagonal which does still serve as an anchor, especially if they were filled in, what ended up happening is that it feels a little chaotic and busy. I was trying to fill in some of these negative spaces that were forming, but they were just a little bit of awkward shapes and sizes. So I was trying to fill those in with these added lines, while also creating movement with the circles. The things that I think are working for this composition are the contrast between the rigid geometric squares and the circles and squiggles, as well as the sense of movement of the circles, balancing out these diagonal, rigid movement of the squares. What I don't think is working well with this composition are these random lines. Things started to feel too busy and it feels a little just haphazard of how these are placed. So I would be more intentional about measuring that out next time. But this is a good way to just experiment with the repeating pattern and a more planned way than say, the intuitive practice we did earlier. With that information of what I liked and didn't like with the last more clammed pattern, I created a new pattern. What I kept in terms of the elements are the diagonal squares as an anchor point. I also kept the contrast with the more organic shapes of the circles, and then I also up the contrast by filling those circles in. This is a much more rhythmic repeat because it's almost as if you could say 1, 2, 3, 4, or 1 and 2 and 3 and 4. It has more of this driving force to it than the previous example which felt a little wilder, more chaotic, and a little bit more scattered. I was looking for something that had more about rhythmic pattern feel. I could keep playing with this. But this is the thing about composition is when you make one, you can learn a lot of information, what you like, what you don't like, and carry that into the next iteration. Composition is all about iterating. It's all about trying again. This is the next version, and I could push that into another version. But now, I want you to take a turn and do this yourself. It's time for you to build your pattern. Upload a photo or scan of your creation as part of your class project so I can see your process. In the previous lessons, we explored how to build compositions using multiple subjects. In the next lesson, we're going to dive into an exercise to build a composition using only one. 14. Thumbnail Exercise: This exercise is beneficial when looking at how to make the composition of one single subject, compelling and interesting. This gives us a way to shake our brains out of their traditional way of seeing, to start making new visual connections and creative art work. So much of drawing is about slowing down to truly observe the object before you. Like I said earlier, it's easy to think we know subjects that we may see everyday; a tree, the leaf, a tea kettle, a piece of food. But when we stop to observe the subject in more detail, even for one full minute of uninterrupted observation, we can begin to find more moments of beauty and inspiration. This exercise is less about the decision-making process that we've been practicing. Instead, once you make one initial choice with this exercise, the rest of the composition will fall into place. Let's dive in, grab a blank sheet of paper, your pen, and an ingredient from your kitchen that you'd possibly like to include on your final cookbook covered class project. Once you've gathered your materials and subject, I want you to draw three rectangles of varying sizes on your paper. You can place these rectangles at different angles as well if you choose. Now, think back to the exercise earlier in this class when we created pocket viewfinders. I want you to act as if each of these rectangles that you've just drawn on your paper is a viewfinder that you could look through, to see your subject in a new way. In fact, for an added visual aid, you could use the viewfinder you made earlier here as well. I'm starting with the first rectangle on my page and I'm acting as if I can see through it to my subject. The first and pretty much the only choice I'm making is to choose which portion of my subject I want to focus on through this boundary. Rather than trying to fit the entire subject within the rectangle, I'm just honing in on one part. For this example, I'm choosing this portion of my subject. Now I'm just drawing exactly what I see within that section of the rectangle. Everything else is cropped out or cutaway. Again, I'm not shading anything right now, not adding value or contrast. I'm not really making any further composition decisions either because I've already cropped way in on the subject, which in turn is making this realistic subject turn into something more abstract. I'm keeping the rule of simplicity in mind. I'm not including every detail I see, just the ones I think are the most powerful, essential or interesting or necessary. I've finished drawing by subject within that first rectangle. Now, using the exact same subject as inspiration, I'm going to move to my second rectangle and choose a different portion. I'm choosing this part of the subject and drawing only what I see within that space. I'll do the process a third time with the third rectangle on a third portion of the subject. Now I have three different versions, or compositions of the same exact subject. How awesome is that? This exercise can be endless because you could create 5,10 or 20 rectangles and get a different composition from the same subject each time. It doesn't have to be a rectangle boundary, you could do a circle or you could do an abstract shape, but you could do it over and over again to look at your subject in new ways. When you feel stuck, this is a great way to shake it up and start to see new elements in your drawings. Take a look at your three rectangles and start to ask yourself some questions. What else does this subject start to remind me of? How does my eye move within each of these drawings? Are there places where my I get stuck? Are there places of contrast or visual tension? Are there areas where contrast could create more interest within the drawing? Are there places where my eye moves very smoothly and continuously throughout the drawing? Think about the elements of composition that we have discussed throughout this class, and see if you can find them within these illustrations. These might include: repetition, movement, focal point, size, of course balance, whether that's symmetrical, asymmetrical, or radial. Ask yourself these questions as you look at all three of your rectangles and just take note if you feel that any of the three work better than the rest in terms of harmony, unity, and beauty. When I look at these thumbnails of arugula, this one in the middle, it starts to remind me of birds on a tree limb, partially that's because of the way I've added in different values, so these start to look like shadows or abstract forms of perhaps birds on this tree limb. This one over here starts to remind me of a canyon or a valley looking down into that in the Earth. It could also be part of a stick or a branch sticking out from perhaps a tree that's cut off or cropped off from this portion of the drawing. This one doesn't totally remind me of anything and maybe as you looked at it, you're reminded of something. But I start to imagine if this was cropped in even more like if there was a line here, so I'm actually holding my hand up to the screen, covering the top of that rectangle just to see if it starts to remind me of anything. Perhaps another plant or another tree, but it's not calling anything immediately. These two do remind me of other associations. That's where this exercise can really allow you to enter into the world of abstract art. That's a really fun place to be because it can start to open us up to seeing all of these different associations with the work of art that might not be the actual subject, but it gives us more of an opportunity to connect on a personal level, and start to be imagining different things and making different emotional connections to the artwork as a viewer, and to the artwork as the creator. This is a really great exercise to take us out of that realism and out of that reality of the world and enter into shapes and lines and feeling and experimenting with abstraction. That's really great in this exercise. These three, I would say that this one over here on the right is actually the most successful. This is really going to be dependent on your style preference and what you gravitate towards with artwork. You might disagree with me here or you might agree with me here. But the reason I select this one as the most successful composition, is because I'm really drawn to minimal art. I like art that has room to breathe. I like art that's flat and simple. What I mean by flat is that, this line that's thick and filled in, it's almost as if it's pushing up against the paper. There's no sense of depth to it. It's really flat and color, there's no mid tone, it's just rich black. But at the same time, something that's flat, an illustration that's flat, can also be an invitation to enter into the work. There's this push-pull between the flatness and the depth. We can see that because this shape is pushing out towards us, and at the same time I want to dive into this crevice. I want to walk into this crack in a rock. It looks like something I could maybe enter into and explore, and yet it's also pushing out at me, so it's kind of this push pull. I feel like that creates really great visual tension and intrigue in a work of art. I also just love how much negative space there is, it gives so much breathing room for the eye, and it makes me feel really calm. I like how there's some symmetry going on, how this ends right in the middle of this rectangle, and suddenly it's as if you could fold this rectangle in half. It's not symmetry in the sense of a mirror image, but there is a sense of balance because it's almost at the halfway point of the framework. If you like that, gives a nice balanced too. I also enjoy thinking about how you could turn this specific rectangle in different directions, seeing how that might look, and experiment with how that might give a different visual effect as well. When you look at your compositions, your three rectangles, think about which you would choose as the most successful and why. I wouldn't make this necessarily into an art print or anything, but just asking myself why I feel it's the most successful can guide my future artwork, and my future decision making in compositions. What I've answered is, the negative space, the simplicity, the sense of balance, the flatness. All of those characteristics are things I can incorporate into a future illustration, or a future print or a future pattern. This is a really good question to ask because it can guide future creation and creative moments so that we can keep improving our compositions and really tap into the style that we really gravitate toward and want to share with the world. In the next lesson, we're going to dive into how to build a composition digitally using Adobe Illustrator. 15. Digital Art Print: For this portion of the class, we're going to build compositions digitally. The benefit of creating compositions in a digital software like Adobe Illustrator, is that you can experiment with many different layouts to see what works and what doesn't without committing to paper too soon like we can do when experimenting with a pin. Both analog and digital approaches to illustration have their pros and cons. But the digital approach can be incredibly helpful to experiment and learn more about how to build compelling compositions. To begin, we're going to practice building a composition with a traditional art print. Let's set up our documents space. I typically like to use an 8 by 10 inch or an 11 by 14 inch size because those are typical frame sizes if I am to sell a print to be framed in the future. For this example, I'll set up the document as an 8 by 10. I'll keep the color mode as RGB since we're working on the screen and these will be presented digitally in the class projects section. If I were to print this cookbook cover at home, I'd want the document to be in CMYK, but for now, RGB works. On another note if you work with a print-on-demand company which I currently do for most of my prints, sometimes their requirement for files is RGB. If I were to sell this print through the company that I work with, I'd still want to use RGB color mode. For more information on how to start selling your art online with print-on-demand. You can visit my class, ditch the inventory. How to use print-on-demand to sell your art and launch your creative career. Now, I'll make sure that this document is at 300 DPI and I'll click "Okay". Instead of building an abstract composition using the assortment of shapes we did earlier, we're going to use some drawings based on real subjects. Since our final class project is an illustrated cookbook cover, I'm using different food illustrations in this example. You're welcome to create your own illustrations or you can download the file of these drawings that I've included in the projects and resources section. You can download these examples and open them in Adobe Illustrator to follow along. These illustrations are for the purposes of this exercise only, and cannot be used outside of this class. Once you've downloaded the provided image document or scanned in your own drawings, you can place the file into Illustrator by going to File Place and finding the file. Or you can use the shortcut, Shift Command P. I copied these illustrations over from another Illustrator document that I'm working on for a personal project. These are already traced in Adobe Illustrator, but if you're scanning in your original drawings or you're copying and the JPEG drawings that I've provided, then you'll need to do an image trace in order to work with them in the Illustrator space. If you're interested in learning how to do that, you can go take my short class called Digital Drawing: How to turn your sketch into a vector.' But these are already vectorized, so we can start using them right away. Similar to when we were working on paper, you could come over here to the Shapes bar and select a Line Segment Tool and you could start to put in lines for the rule of thirds that we discussed if you want a grid to work with. Rather than diving right into that, I'm going to start playing with placements just on their own without those lines and you can watch me work. With that step right there, when I elongated the stream of oil that really helped I think, to start to give the space more of a boundary. We talked about the boundary of this traditional art board right here is the rectangle. But even within the space, you can create a boundary with some of your illustrated elements. Now we have this flow happening and though these aren't even on the bottom, the eye travels from this olive oil container up around the flow of oil back down here. We can start to think about what could be placed within this space. I'm going to play with copying that element and shrinking it down, placing it outside of that boundary. But that gets a little clunky when it's smaller. Let's do just a touch smaller and put it right there. But, you can see how this is really a matter of experimenting and finding what works and what clicks and what doesn't and that's a lot of trial and error and reorganizing and finding which elements can fit together and which elements you need to leave out. Because sometimes it can just get too busy. Another trick that I really like to do, I'm going to move all of these elements over here to the left. Here is your art boards icon, you can click that and then you can click this new art board and just create a few more. You can create as many as you'd like. I'm going to create two more and then I'm actually going to select all of these hold down Option and drag the grouping down. I have the exact same elements to work with in these other two art boards spaces. That way you can play with different compositions and test out different ideas rather than just committing to the one space. In this next one, I'm going to leave out the olive oil and I'm going to play with these mustered leaves. When I copy these again over here because I like these three, but I want to see what other arrangements could work. This one's nice because it's simple. Again, color adds a huge component to composition, but right now we're sticking with black and white. But if I were to want to add some more contrast here, I could think about filling in certain spaces with black. Right now the outline is black, but if I fill in, by clicking, I went to the Fill here and clicked black and then I can come back to the stroke and click "No Stroke". Now it's just like the silhouette of the leaf and I could do that over here. That's the same here as well and that creates more of a sense of contrast. I'm going to undo those because I like the line drawing that's happening. I'm going to leave that as is for now, but you could repeat art boards over and over to play with different compositions. I'm actually going to bring this copied olive oil into this space. Again, I really like the simplicity of it being just the bottle and the oil. But if I were to play with more elements of food cascading down, that could be fun too. But that feels too busy. You can see again, this is really trial and error. But what I'm really drawn to is actually, as I said, the simplicity here and I'm thinking about the cookbook cover and potentially putting the text within this space. I know I initially said I was going to incorporate certain elements and those may or may not make it into the final cover. But you can see here this is a different approach to building an art print digitally and you can really experiment with what works and what doesn't. Here, I don't like this because I feel like this corner is missing something. I feel like it just lacks any interest. This feels more balanced. So that's a better composition in my mind. This has a lot of nice empty negative space in the middle and has movement around the edges. I like that. You can really play and figure out what arrangement of elements works for you and then upload them to the class project with your process because I want to see what you're working on. To do that, you would just go to File, Export, and you can go to Export As, and then you can export as down here select a JPEG. You can select art print, composition as the title, and then select to use art boards and you can put in the art board that you would like to export. If it's number 1 or number 2. You would just indicate that number here, click export, and then it would save to your location, and then you could upload that file to the class project section so we can see your process. In the next lesson, we'll practice making a composition with the digital pattern. 16. Digital Pattern: Similar to the earlier lesson when we made a repeating pattern on paper, we can also make repeating patterns digitally in Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator is a powerful tool to create patterns with your illustrations. These patterns could be used on products, fabric, wallpaper, gift wrap, greeting cards, the list goes on. I'm going to walk you through how to build and make a very simple pattern composition in this lesson, but pattern making is a topic with extensive information, so to dig into the topic deeper, I highly suggest visiting Bonnie Christine's skillshare page. To get started with this exercise, open up a new document in Illustrator. I'm going to set up this document as a square this time, still RGB and still 300 dpi. Now, I'm going to use the same elements we used in the last lesson. I've just copied them over from our other document by selecting all of them, hitting command C on the Mac to copy and hitting command P here in the pattern document to paste. Since I already traced these illustrations in the other document, they're good to go. Now, it's time to play with the composition. Again, since we're working digitally, we can play an experiment without too much commitment to any one look right away. I'm going to make copies of these illustrated elements to have on the right side of my art board. I'm also going to duplicate my art board a few times so we can experiment with different arrangements to compare, so I'm going to grab this mustard green leaf over here. I'm going to move back to my initial art board, and I'm going to expand it to make it a little bit larger. Just like that, and then I'll hold down the option key on the Mac keyboard, and while I'm holding down option, I can drag that image over, release both option key and the mouse, and then I'll drop a duplicate right there, and then I can just clicked commands D on the Mac keyboard to do that exact same action again, so I'll do that. Now I have these three leaves. Now, I'm going to select all of them with the mouse, holding down option, I'm going to place them just like this, so I'm dragging down holding option releasing now the option key and the mouse, and I'm going to duplicate that again. Then we have these three rows of mustard greens. Now, I'm going to select everything because it's getting a little close to this left edge, and I'm just going to scooch it over. Now, to make a pattern there is a really wonderful way to do this that's really in depth and I'm going to again direct you to Bonnie Christine skillshare page for that process. But there's another way to do this in the newer versions of Illustrator where you can go to Object, Pattern, Make. But first we want to select this, so Object, Pattern, Make. Now, over here you can see the width and the height you can look at the grid. This has been added to the swatches panel, and now you can see how it's repeating over and over again. That's a really basic way to create a repeating pattern. You you can see how these are at decimals, so you can play with bringing these down to whole numbers nine by nine, and that's just spaced it out a little bit. Now we have this repeating pattern happening, and then if you're happy with it, you can click "Done" and now it's over here in your swatches panel. To test that pattern, I can click "M" on my keyboard or you can come up to the rectangle to make a rectangle, and I'm just going to drag that out across, and then I'm going to select the pattern we just made. There you have a really simple repeating pattern. You can start to play with different elements becoming a repeat, still thinking about the elements of composition. In this example here, we have a very exact rhythm. We have the same element repeating over and over again. That's somewhat interesting, but we might play with the spacing, and we might play with adding more value in contrast. In another box here, we might play with adding in another element completely to add more interest and intrigue. For example, I might drag this over, and then I'll drag a leaf over here, and you're really watching me as I work just like we did in the last lesson because I really want to hammer home that composition is really about experimenting. It's not always going to fall into place right away. Some works go easier than others and some really do come very intuitively, very quickly. Others, it's a lot of frustration honestly and really returning to a piece again and again, so like we saw in the digital art print space, you really saw me at work trying to figure out how these elements work together if they work together sometimes you realize that maybe something works better on its own, like olive oil bottle than it does with another element. I just really want to be transparent about that and show you that the process is not always perfect and that it really is about discovering your style and practicing. I'm going to keep playing here and rather than these leaves going the same direction, I'm going to flip this one this way, and I'm going to make it a little bit bigger than these other two leaves. Now, I'm going to still stick to just leaves as the subject matter for this, but I'm going to move and copy some of these again, with that option key I'm just going to copy some of them around and place them in different directions. Again, this digital space is great to experiment with what works, what doesn't. I don't want this right next to itself again, but what I'm going to do is I'm going to actually delete that, I'm going to copy this one and mirror it over here. Right now we're playing with a symmetrical balance of the elements. Remember, balance is one thing with composition, a very important component of composition, and we're looking at that right now. It's not going to be exactly mirrored, but it's going to be a reference to a mirrored image. Now, I'm going to select all of this and actually rotate everything and expand everything just a little bit. This is more of like a tossed pattern, it's more scattered, so a scattered pattern that isn't just the exact same thing in rows repeating is called usually a tossed pattern. But here I can see that there is somewhat to be down a little bit more, and I want it to actually be reflected, so I'm going to go to Transform, Reflect. You can see in the preview, looks is selected as preview vertically that it just reflected the way I wanted, and now I'm going to rotate that a little bit. We're going to bring these down some selecting both by holding the Shift key, but you know what? I'm going to delete this and I'm going to delete this. Because this is process, I'm going to hold down option and shift this time so that it stays in line, and then I'm going to reflect this vertically. I'm going to sketch it out just a little bit from the leaf, and I'm going to do the same thing here, so option, drag, shift, so it's locked on the same line as that other green, and then I'm going to reflect it again. You're going to nudge it just a little bit, and then going to option, drag, shift, reflect. Cool. But now I'm going to select everything and actually rotate it the other way again. Again, you can see this process, process, process. This has a lot more negative space than the last one, but let's just see what happens when we make this into a pattern. Pattern, Make. It's been saved. Here you can see that this is a little bit more interesting perhaps than the other pattern, but again, I'm going to come over here and change this to nine by eight and see what that does, so that just shrunken in a little bit. You can change the number of copies that you see, so you can see even more copies by going down here. You can dim the copies so you can see the main drawings still, or you can leave that as full opacity. Then you can play with the different types of patterns, so brick by row, brick by column, and all of these again, they changed the composition and the layout of your pattern. Some of them start to overlap and get a little funky, but if we go back to grid, that's the classic grid. I'm actually liking the brick by column. I think that's really interesting, there's some nice gaps of negative space, so there's room for the eye to breathe, but we still have some balance and symmetry happening, could be like a really fun wallpaper, so you get the idea. You can really experiment, I'm going to click "Done". You can really experiment with different types of patterns in your squares. I'm going to press "M" on the keyboard to create another rectangle, and then it's saved over here in the swatches panel, so I'm going to select this and there's your pattern. If you want to see your pattern bigger, you can go to Object, Transforms, Scale, and then don't transform the objects themselves, just the pattern, and then you can enter in a number or you can scroll on your mouse to make it larger, so see this is really a fun pattern, I think because there is some symmetry in mirroring and balance, and it has this diamond shape between the bottom of this leaf and the bottom of this leaf or you can scale back the other way to see it's wow, really small or really big. My mouse is wanting to keep going, so I'm actually going to manually enter on the keyboard 50 percents, and then you can click "Preview". That shows you it pretty small. I'm going to click "Cancel" because I don't want to save that, and that's the example here. I want you to experiment with the elements that you've drawn or the elements I've provided you, creating different patterns and seeing what strikes your fancy in terms of composition, and then you can upload those as part of your process and part of your project, into the class project section, and I cannot wait to see what you create. Alright friend, I think you have a good amount of composition training under your belt, don't you? In the next lesson, we're going to begin gathering inspiration for our final class project. 17. Gathering Inspiration: Typically, I include a gathering inspiration section at the beginning of the class. However, when it comes to composition, I really feel it's important to let your intuition guide you first. That's why I've waited until now for you to start building a collection of examples that can serve as inspiration. To start collecting inspiring images, I suggest creating a Pinterest board. This can be a public or a private board. Pinterest is a really incredible resource to gather an assortment of images to fuel your creative practice. Inspiration is a great place to start when you're trying something new or feel stuck, but you never want to take directly from another artist. When you're inspired by a work of art or a photograph, jot down the elements that fuel you rather than directly copying what you see. Dylan Mierzwinski has a great overview of how to do this in her class, Leveling Up Your Art Game, which I have linked in the resources document attached in the projects and resources section. To begin gathering inspiration, make your board. I've called mine, Compelling Compositions. I started with a search for illustrated cookbook cover as well as another search for food illustration. Here is the collection I started to gather that inspires me. When I gather these examples into one space, I can begin to see the connections of styles I am drawn to. Gather your inspiration and notice any elements of composition that really stand out to you, including balance, movement, rhythm, focus, contrast. Notice any continuous threads that connect your gathered images to uncover the compositions that you find compelling. When I look for common themes and threads in this board that I've created of compositions, I notice a few things. One of the things I notice is that, in many of these, there's a main focal point. Here we have the mango, it looks like some kind of juice. Here we have the pot of pasta, here we have the plate of fish, so there's a lot of focal points happening and they're created often in these examples by negative space surrounding them. Down here, there's a few more. There's this pasta that's the focal point and turned into lettering, which is really fun. The focal point here is the actual title and that's emphasized by this border of imagery. Then here, we have the focal point of a skillet that's created and emphasized by the negative space around it. I'm noticing that. Negative space is also a component that's appearing in a lot of these. Another thing I notice is that, I'm really drawn to the flat imagery, things that don't have a lot of depth, or shadow, or shading, but are rather just one solid color. On the opposite end of the spectrum a little bit from the one main focal point, I notice that I also like the repeating pattern feel, like this image, this image, this image, and this image. It has a sense of movement and it's filling the space completely, and it's keeping my eye really intrigued and curious as to what these ingredients are. I notice that I enjoy that too. I'm curious what your threads are. What do you find in your collected imagery that you seem to be drawn to when it comes to composition, and how can you incorporate that into your final project? I'm thinking, looking at these that I'm going to really focus on simplicity, negative space, and probably returning to that olive oil bottle that we were looking at earlier. Feeling inspired? Awesome. In the next lesson, it's time to dive into your class project. 18. Class Project: Paper: To start, grab a pen and paper. I still recommend only using line drawing in black and white to really focus on composition. Focus on how the elements of your work can fit together to create that unity. To begin the process of crafting your cookbook cover, brainstorm the elements you want to be included in your illustrated composition. For example, I know that I want to include at least one tomato, a spatula, and a mustard green leaf. I have those elements quickly sketched as my drawings on a blank sheet of paper and you can see them colored here from a different project. Decide on a handful of food elements and ingredients you might like to include and draw those on your paper. Don't worry about them being finalized. Just jot them down as a reference for this next exercise. Another element that comes into play with this specific project that we haven't discussed yet is text. The text on my cover will be the creative kitchen and illustrated by Liz Brandley. I've written those on this paper as well. Jot down the title of your cookbook and your name near your library of images on your sheet of paper. Begin to think about how the style of your lettering can contribute to that overall feeling in the composition. For example, handwritten fonts can feel playful and youthful and creative. Cursive fonts can feel classic and elegant. Block fonts can feel confident and bold. On the same sheet of paper as your food illustrations, or you can use another blank sheet, start to play with writing out the text you're going to use in different styles. Think about the title. Think about your name. Take note if you like a particular style of fonts and just jot down a few options of writing it to reference. Now on another sheet of paper, draw 10 small to medium-ish sized rectangles. These serve as the thumbnail views of your cookbook cover to quickly create different arrangements of your elements without too much attachment or judgment. This really helps you get the creative process started at a low-risk level, rather than diving right into final cover art. This warm up, similar to cutouts we did at the very beginning of this class, is really helpful to see many different options before committing to one idea. Start to fill in each rectangle one by one, with different arrangements of your elements, including different styles of your text. Think about those elements of composition that can come into play here. Movement, repetition, scale, value. Start to experiment with different combinations in each rectangle. You can repeat this process for as many thumbnail covers as you'd like. But 10 is a good starting point to keep pushing toward new solutions that may not seem obvious at first glance. You can make all not taking too much time. Don't treat these as being too precious. Just really sketching quickly trying to get the ideas out on paper. It's by no means the final. This is just to see what layouts could look like. Not even room left for the text. We're going to try that with a thinner pen. Keep going and fill all of the many and then you can still play with elements like contrast on this, just to get an idea what that might look like. Looking back at this one, I would probably fill in the main body of the tomato. Once you've sketched at least 10 thumbnail sketches, decide which one you would like to move forward with for your final cookbook cover. I'm going to move forward with this sketch. Of course, as we've seen throughout the entire class, this initial sketch is a starting point. It will likely change as you create your final work, but it's the map to get you going. Now, get out a blank new sheet of white paper. If you're using that nine by 12 inch Cansom XL mixed media pad, cut down one of the sheets of paper to an eight by 10 inch size using a paper trimmer, an X-Acto knife, or scissors. Now, begin to replicate the thumbnail sketch of choice onto your enlarged paper. Notice what you can fill in, what you're leaving empty, how you're leading the viewer's eye across the cover or drawing attention to key elements, drawing attention to the title, ultimately creating harmony throughout the entire layout. Once you've created your final cookbook cover composition, upload it to the class project section. In the next lesson, we'll build a cookbook cover composition digitally using Adobe Illustrator. 19. Class Project: Digital: To start this portion of the class, you'll open a new document in Illustrator. I'm going to select this 8 by 10 inch. I'm going to keep it in the RGB color space because we'll be viewing these online in the class project section. Again, if I were to print this at home I would want this in the CMYK color space, but RGB is good for this specific project. Then I'll make sure it's still at the 300 resolution. Then I will click "Create". Now, we have this new document. I'm going to come back to my pattern document and grab those same elements that have already been traced. I'm going to copy them. "Command C", and paste them to the right of my board here. I'm going to move these elements down below my artboard for a moment, so that I can create another artboard just in case I want to experiment with more layouts and composition before committing to one idea as we've done in the previous lessons. But because of the work we've already done together and what you've seen me work on today, I have a feeling of the direction I want to go. I'm going to pull this olive oil bottle up here and I'm going to expand it. I'm holding down the Shift key so that it maintains its proportions. Then I'm going to place it, you can align to your artboard. I have my image selected. If I go here to the Align Tool and I make sure that it's selected as Align to Artboard, then I can align it to the center this way. You can also align it this way but I don't want it that close to the top, so I'm going to undo that and leave that here. Because of the space, I'm actually going to not align it center that way either. I really say you can practice aligning and see how it feels to you, but trust your eye. That felt a little too far to the left, especially thinking about this as a cookbook cover and thinking about this spine. But as we discussed earlier, maybe you want some of your elements wrapping around to the back. So consider that too. I'm just going to select this olive oil bottle and drag it down a little bit. Then I'm going to zoom in here and see if I can drag this bottom portion of the oil down here. I'm using the Direct Selection Tool, I'm going to double-click on the anchor points and just start to play with dragging this out a little bit. This might look a little too geometric, and so I could come in with the paintbrush. Yeah, I don't like that. I'm going to delete that actually, and leave that as is for now. I'm actually going to move this bottle up just a little bit, and I'm going to move this whole thing down. Now, I know that for me the text is craving to be in here, so I'm going to come over to the Text button. Then I'm trying to think what fill I want with the text. I have the Type Tool, and you can go in here and look. I always make sure that if I'm going to sell this product at the end of the day, that whichever text I'm using is free for a commercial use or that I've purchased a license for it. But in this case it's just an example, so I'm just looking for a feeling that I want. I want this as the creative kitchen. So I want it to be playful and fun, something that is inviting, something that's not too formal but is not put together either. I don't know, I like this. Let's see how that looks bigger. I'm going to type out my title. I was going to center it, but this might be fun against the olive oil bottle. At first I was imagining an up in here, which is nice because that creates a circle with your eye, with the composition around the text. But I also like it down here because it's lining up against this bottle and it's also creating a line to the pool of oil. Though then the space does feel a little empty, so I'm not totally certain of that. What I'm going to do is select all of these option, and then drag it over to create a copy. In that way I can drag this text here into the center. Now with it here, I want to align it to the middle of itself rather than the left alignment. There's that. Then it can be bigger in this space, but I the, THE can be smaller because that doesn't need as much attention. That might be a little too small, but we're going to play with it. There's that idea. We're going to move it over and up. That's fun to me. I really like both of these. Again, thinking back to my Pinterest inspiration board, I like that there's negative space. I like that it's just one image, but I'm curious still. What would happen if I continued that circle that's happening around the text with some more food elements? I'm actually in this one, I'm going to double-click this to isolate it and I'm just going to move the bottle up just a little bit. Then that feels a little too high, I don't like this space. Then that feels a little too close. There's that. Let's see. I'm liking the mustard green, but I like the frillier one which I accidentally left over here in the pattern space. I'm going to grab both of these and copy them over here. I will drag those up. That's okay, but it feels out of place and distracting to me. I'm going to actually pull these out for a minute. I need my name on there. Remember, we said who it's by. I'm going to add that and see if that helps. What would be best here is actually shrinking this down and placing it just in alignment with the title, so that all of the text is in one place. Again, depending on what images you're working with, how you're working your style, it could be very, very different and you might take different actions than me. But again, that's the beauty of composition. It can be really intuitive. THE is 45 and this is 37. They're a little close than text size, so I'm going to shrink that down like that. I'm going to bring this down a little bit, but I'm still curious about this one. I'm revisiting that visually and seeing if there's a way to make that work. That could be fun actually. That eliminates that awkward space that didn't fill as fluid. I know that the oil now is not coming out of the top of this, but I like how it's a ribbon wrapping around. I almost want to isolate the bottle and move it over just a little bit. Really, I'm liking that. That's working for me, and I'm going to delete this tiny anchor point down here. That's interesting and fun, so I'm going to play with that right there right now. I'm going to copy my name over here to this document and keep that under there. Then I'm going to move all of this text up because that made it a little bit longer. Now, it's a creative kitchen, so as I'm playing with that I'm starting to think about creative, and paintbrush, or a pencil, and just this spatula that I have down here as well. So I'm going to actually copy all of these over again. I'm actually going to delete this from here and then place this here. Suddenly, I'm thinking about this as paint and not oil, and so I'm playing with a different option here. If this were to fit inside here, and this were to fit here, and then this can loop around there, I come a little closer in. Then I'm thinking about just a paint brush right here. I'm going to sketch this out just a little, so there's more breathing room with the title. I'm going to sketch this out just a little. I really like that. I'm going to draw a paintbrush to bring in here. I just drew a paintbrush on paper, and I'm going to pull that into this space. I can do that by entering "File Place" or I can just select "Shift Command P", and find it in my Downloads. Here it is. I'm going to place it in here. It's large. Then I'm going to trace it, so that it's a vectorized image. Black and White, I'm going to come down here to Ignore White preview. Let's see how this does. Okay, that looks pretty good. I'm not using this one, just this one. I will click expand and then I'm going to ungroup it. I just did Shift command G on the keyboard, delete that, and group these elements together. Shift G and then bring them over here. I'm going to shrink them down. You can see how the element of oil turned into paint and this composition completely shifted from the starting point. That's really the whole process. Sometimes things are more laid out, but really just starting can give you the idea and lead you to the solution that you didn't even know you were looking for. I'm really happy with this and now I'm going to make sure that it fits in, which it should, into this space. I'm going to bring all of these elements out of this art board, and bring these in. It would be a nice square cover. I could keep playing with this. I might hit here just to see if we can make this rectangle work a little bit more. That's really awkward space and I liked this a little bit better. But I do like when this is kind of up on the spatula. I think that looks nice. I'm going to leave this as it is for now, and I'm just going to center this here. What we have happening here, in terms of elements of composition, is that we have the focal point of the text and our eye is being led in this circle. Although there's not a full circle, it's an implied circle down here, our eye moves from the tip of the paintbrush around here, which encircles this main text. You can also play with contrast by filling in certain areas. Again, we're not really focusing on color, but you can fill in certain areas with a darker filling. I'm going to come here and turn this into a live paint group by clicking the paint bucket after I've selected that section. Then I do that with this one, and select black, and we have that. That's kind of fun. That creates a nice contrast against the back and that kind of mirrors and mimics the contrast of the text here. If we play with that here, I'm not to certain it might get too muddy. I feel like that just gets less interesting. Maybe if we just fill in a certain part. But even then, I think I like this as a line drawing, like that. You can play with it, play with the contrast of black and white, play with placement, like I might even move this down here. But I like it up here. Again, I think this would be a better square cover, because we have this empty space happening up here. But what we could do to fill that in, we could expand it out so that the spatula and the paints are larger. None for a moment. I'm actually going to move these over here to use the blob brush tool. What I want is for this to be closer in. I'm going to move that there and make it more aligned with the bottoms of these two objects right back. That's a little close to the text, I want a little more breathing room. But really the only thing I want to see is that it fits, this is kind of fun too, is that it fits into the space. I'm actually going to delete that because we're not going to use that. I'm going to move this into the art board here. This is running off the page, and so instead, I'm going to isolate it and move this so it's a little smaller. Move this down here, like that. Then I'm actually going to directly select it and click Shift E for my eraser and erase that line. Then in that way I can just select this top component and erase that. Now we have all of those. I'm going to move this text up a little bit. I like that it's a handwritten text, it feels playful, it feels creative. Then I'm going to come to the blob brush. I'm going to start to draw a line around this way that fits the space a little bit better. You can see it has a little texture on that lettering too, so good. That fits the space better and I think I will come in here and clean this up a little bit. I'm going to click A to get the direct selection tool. Then that way I can double-click these anchors and pull them in so that it's more seamless. I can use that handle to widen that, hit here, and same with up here. I went a little wacky. Then I can smooth that out a little bit with the smooth tool so it's not such a harsh curve. Then I think I want to make this pointed, the end of this pointed, just so that mirrors the paintbrush tip a little bit more. There we go. I liked that. I really liked this square, but because we're working within the space, again, the boundary is helping me make decisions about my composition. This is what I'm going to go with. I'm going to move this over just a little bit and down just a little bit. There we have it. I'm ready to export this. I'm going to move everything down a little bit because it feels a little too scrunched up the top. This is a moment where I could group by clicking command G and then go to a line and see how it looks when it's aligned to the art board. Again, that looks too close to the left to me because of this spacing. So I'm going to select everything and just nudge it to the right, then see what happens when I center it in the middle and I like that. I'm going to leave that there. Then this is the art board 3 and one way to tell that is when you go in here, number 3, it's selected, it's the darkest, it's a darker border than this one. If I were to select two, that would highlight this one, if I were to select one, it would highlight balance. So we know it's art board 3. To export this I'm going to a file, export, export as, I'm going to say cookbook cover. I'm going to save it as as JPEG, use art boards and we said it was number 3. So just three. For now I'm just going to save it to my desktop, export that, RGB high. I'm going to art optimize it, and click okay. That's that. I can't wait to see what you create and what you come up with for your cookbook cover. Upload it to the class project section and I can't wait to answer your questions and see your progress. 20. Thank You & Next Steps: You did it. That is a cause for celebration because this was one deep dive into composition. Congrats on finishing the class. It was such a joy to have you here in the Prints & Plants studio. I hope that you're walking away with more skills and a solid foundation to keep creating those compelling compositions. I want to remind you that your art and your vision and your voice, they matter. Keep creating. Keep adding beauty to this world. If you want to keep hanging out and talking all things art and food, then follow me over on Instagram @prints_and_plants, and sign up for my weekly creative newsletter at If you want to keep learning together, follow me here on Skillshare. I can't wait to see you again soon, and until next time. To creativity and beyond.