How to make Better Compositions: Take your art to new heights | Mandar Marathe | Skillshare

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How to make Better Compositions: Take your art to new heights

teacher avatar Mandar Marathe, Fine Artist, Sculptor, Illustrator, Designer

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

    • 1.

      Introduction to Composition


    • 2.

      Definitions And Abstract Shapes


    • 3.

      Armatures And Common Mistakes


    • 4.

      Eye Movement


    • 5.



    • 6.

      Framing And Cropping


    • 7.

      Conventions in Composition


    • 8.

      Summary of Composition class


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About This Class

In simple words, composition is the arrangement of shapes in the picture. It is one of the most elusive and neglected aspects in art but is one of the most crucial ingredients of every good work of artwork.

This artwork could be a drawing, painting, illustration, graphic design or a photograph. In this class we'll go through 

  • Conventions in composition
  • Armatures that hold the shapes in the painting together
  • Common mistakes in composition
  • Orchestration of eye movement using composition
  • Framing and cropping vast scenes into effective compositions
  • Importance of thumbnail sketches in developing compositions

If you are interested in drawing, painting, illustration, design or photography, this class will give you lot of useful information, but even if you are just curious about what composition is and how it helps in creating better artworks, this class will help you understand that.

So, I invite you to enroll in this class and take you art to higher level of mastery. See you in the class!


Tags: art, fine art, illustration, digital illustration,drawing, painting, graphic design, creativity, photography, landscape, still life, oil painting, plein air painting, acrylic painting, watercolor painting

Meet Your Teacher

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Mandar Marathe

Fine Artist, Sculptor, Illustrator, Designer



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I am a fine artist, illustrator, and sculptor based in Pune, India.

I chose to become a full time artist in 2011 after 15 years of corporate career in manufacturing and IT.
During my education and corporate career I made art on weekends and exhibited it through solo and group shows. But I wanted to make more art and more often!

After quitting my day job, I've created and sold my own art more often and have taught 20000+ students through my workshops, courses and membership.

My art teaching method got refin... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction to Composition: welcome to the glass about composition. In simple words. Composition means the arrangement off shapes in the picture. It's one of the most elusive and neglected aspect in painting, but good composition is one of the most crucial factors in every good work of art. Composition of the mines. The mood of the brain. For example, Horizon Lines list in the lower half of the painting creates and opens airy feeling. Where is the horizon line placed in the top off, the painting creates a serious and rather somber mood. My name is Madonna Moratti, and I'm a fine artist. I do paintings, cultures and illustrations. I also teach art in my studio and through online court system. These in this class we will go over various aspects of composition. We learn about common conventions of competition on our meters that hold the shapes together. Then we will look at common mistakes that need to be avoided for a perfectly orchestrated eye movement. We will also look at how to frame and crop the scene to create compelling compositions along the way. I'll show you different examples to explain the concepts. We will also be talking about the importance off some names in developing good compositions . Once you learn and practice these skills, you'll be well on your being creating your next masterpiece. If you're interested in drawing illustration, painting, design or photography, this course will give you a lot of useful information. But not only that, even if you are just curious about what competition is and how it helps create better artworks, this course will help you understand that. So I invite you to enroll in this class and take your art your highest level of mustering. See you in the glass. 2. Definitions And Abstract Shapes: before we jump into what competition is all about. Let's look at a few definitions related to color. There are three characteristics off color. You chroma on value you in common language. When we say color, we are refering to the U off the color. So when we say red color, we mean really you blue, yellow, green and sore so that is referred to as you. Then we look at chroma. Gruma is the brightness or dullness off the color. For example, dissident off color is very bright color on very saturated colors, whereas district off colors is our dull ring off gunners. For example, this image off the same painting is, ah, high chroma image. Where is this is a local and chroma image. Now we look at what value stands for value is the relative darkness or lightness off one ship in the painting with respect to the others. For example, if you when I convert this painting or this painting in tow, black and white, you can see the values off on those colors. For example, discover here off the green green grass on this color is off the red red color off the rule , but If you see in value terms are in terms off lightness or darkness, they are almost the same. So then values are perfectly arranged in a painting. Colors are less important. Now let's look at some of the definitions related toe composition. When you see a painting order landscape Andi or a even a still life and want to convert that into a painting, you should make a habit off looking at the same in terms off big shapes, medium size ships on small shapes. If you see this painting is represented by this, shapes off different darkness. For example, this shape here is I've represented in terms off this darkness value. The darkest part off the painting is here that's here. Generally, about five or six values are enough to define a painting properly. So when you look at up seen on, you want to convert that into a painting. You should look at what are the shapes because the shapes make the painting good or bad. First identified the big shapes than the medium size shapes and in the small ones you should reduce our distilled the scene. Indo few shapes off different sizes, and then you should go on making how many images off that. What I mean by that is when you look at this scene, for example, you should be able tow Draw this in terms off the shapes I'm avoiding going into the details off each leaf off the three and so on. And I've I made this into to your four shapes. This is a mountain shape. This is the grass shape in the foreground. These other trees and so on in this painting are from this photograph I've created this time, Neil on I've divided this into a few shapes. This is a big three shape. This is another three shape and is the mountain this? The role on this is the grass. So if you notice, I've even crop this image still here. And I'm not showing this part of the painting because it's not adding value. Who are adding any making any contribution to making this painting better? So we should make a habit to see big shapes, medium size shapes and smaller ships and reduce the scene in front of us in terms off these shapes that will give us a good glue off water. Good compulsion is and what is not 3. Armatures And Common Mistakes: in this lecture, let's look at a few of the conventions follower in arranging Upending are the structure in the paintings. A structure is something on which the ships off the painting can hang on just as an analogy . Imagine the structure, which sculpture has or the armature vistors sculpture has unrealistically can't hang on. So, basically, if a painting if a painting has clear structure, the shapes are easy. Don't hang on that, and that gives a pleasing compositions. But these are not the rules on. You should look at them at just conventions. Try using them. If you like them, keep using them. If you don't like them, then you can get rid of them and try to have different kind of kinds off structures. So let's look at a few of the shapes are a few off the structures, which commonly are used in paintings. The 1st 1 is an L shape in that there's a big object here on almost there is on. Then there is a horizontal, which divides it into an L shape. This is an energy. The next shape between look at is an escape. In this, there is something which flows into an s shape and in this case, it's a river on. Then our attention goes through the clouds so that forms and s ship. The 3rd 1 is a diving. You can see that almost all of the mountains are managed in are the shapes are winding in a diagonal direction from this corner to this corner, so that forms our diamond structure. For the painting, Fulcrum is an example in which there is a big shape which is balanced by a small shape. On the other side grouping is in this kind of a structure onto the armature, the means subject off. The painting is on one side and almost it's the whole painting. There's nothing else which is off any importance in the painting. But it's just create some backdrop for the painting. So this kind off a structure is called grouping. This could be one tree Ah, fruit in case off, still life painting or group of trees or something. But the main subject is a group. It's group together on arrest. All is kind of a backdrop for the whole group, then radiating lines here, you can see that this is the focal point or the object of interest here and all the lines off the roar off the mountain on off the trees are kind off radiating from this point. So that's the real eating kind of lines. Kind of a structure. Now let's look at a few of the things which toe be chargeable hour. Then, when you're creating a composition, if you have your center of interest in the center of a painting, then it kind off locks the viewers attention on its not good as, ah, composition. Seconding toe award is strong divers just going into the corners of the painting. These kind off, take away the attention off the viewer from the corners and outside the building. So even if you have a mountain range supposed like this going in on its cutting through the diagonal on, it's just going out of this corner, you should blur this idea so that not a lot off attention is given to this area Vaida viewer. Then there is something going to run off. It is a similar door diagonal, but if you have a shape which goes like this, you're the attention off. The viewer goes like this on just runs out off the painting so you should have something which can hold the attention off the viewer and not let it go outside the painting next one is called Obstruction Supposed days A mountain on Did these are group off, please? Here on Generally be as of your go inside. The painting are kind of walk into the painting. But what is happening here is this kind of this Ruoff Trees is not allowing the acting of the viewer's eye movement to go beyond this line. So we kind of have to jump over this on. This is a very distracting kind off are unpleasant way off our injecting. So if you suppose I want to do something like this, you should kind off award this and there should be some way or they should be a gap in the trees here somewhere through its and I can who are I can travel and go to the rest of the painting. You should never have to objects off same size in a pending take an analogy off a movie If you have two heroes which are off the same stage are on if they're given save importance that the week the viewers kind of get confused as to who is the Who is the one who is to be paid attention. So award having two shapes off the same size in the painting. You could have one, Ah, bunch here and then the smaller three here and something that makes it slightly interesting . But I want having two shapes on the same side. Then if you have a three, which is placed here or if you can, if you might have any other object. But it should not seem as if the border of the painting is cutting the shape in full house . So it's as if this half is here. What happens is that attention goes here and here, and that's not good for the rest of the painting. So we're cutting the shape into exact huh? Maybe you're gonna have something like this, which is not much, which is not as distracting as this, because this is seen as it's not being cut in half. They don't have any two objects touching each other, just like just in a tangent. If you want to show two objects one behind the other, then you should always have one object overlapped others so that it becomes easier for your to see which one is in front and which one is in the back in. The last one is never divide a pending into exact house. It should your horizon line if you're If you're doing in a landscape, your horizon line should be in the lower half somewhere here or somewhere here if you want to show more of ground and less off the sky. But it should never have your horizon line exactly in the center or any other line. Which the wives, the painting in the exact house. If you're wired this mistakes, the composition is much better than it would have been otherwise. 4. Eye Movement: when you paint a painting, your intention is that the viewer should look at the painting, and if you have your focal, are the interest area here. Then, as a painter, you should make sure that the eye movement off the viewer happens in such a way that it goes to the interest area, also traveled some of the ideas around and then finally comes back at the focal area or interest India in the bed that's going toe I moment. If, for example, if the I'm woman doesn't happen like this, and if it gets locked into one position and doesn't travel around, then it's a problem that all of this part is not supporting this central idea off the bendy . So the I woman off the viewer has to be properly orchestrated so that he or she looks at the painting in the way you want him or her to look at it. So let's look at the eye movement in some off the paintings, each other as an example. If you look at this painting, this reward takes your attention or the I from this in this direction till here, then it did. It goes up here and from the clouds and again comes down and then it comes back into this blue. So even if you say that this is the focal area which the which as an artist I'm intended to be you are. I does traveled in this direction and come comes back here. So it's not getting locked in this area. Let's look at the next example in this painting. The Lord is going in this direction so your attention or the eye movement happens in this direction. Then you have a dark three here which takes your attention here. And then it goes through the trees on this line off the mountain again brings back your attention here on the flow continues or and finally, this is the any off interest. And this is where the highest contrast is also looking at this painting. This line off the road takes your attention in this direction. If this tree wasn't there, your attention or the eye movement would have taken you outside the painting. But that's not happening because this darkly is shown here. Your attention then goes up like this. You follow the mountain range, then come back from with the tree down here and again disclose their in this painting. The road takes you in this direction. Then you go up the tree here because this becomes a prominent shape here. Then it goes to the clouds and then comes the house again and was into this though this is stuff area which has the maximum contrast and is the local media. All these items on these shapes are supporting the idea the central idea off the painting which is this so as you have seen, you have to make the viewers. I move through the painting in the way you wanted to move on. If you remain static in the eye, woman doesn't happen properly. An epic disagreements static in one week in one place, then that's not good for you as a as an artist. So now let's look at a few of the things which also impact in. In addition to the shapes, what impacts this movement is the color. For example, house has a very muted red color. If this was off this color, it would have taken your attention here on it, would have never traveled up, bought it. Actually, you are you. So it's also important that the shapes have colors which are in harmony with the rest of the pain. No color should jump out off the painting on distractive flow. So when the color go goes back to this, you're I woman does not disturb if I go here. If this tree was too bright on, if it had very many bright colored leaves, it had shown that the new attention would have got caught here on. The movement would not happen like this, so it's important that color off every shape is in harmony with the rest of the painting. 5. Viewfinders: Let's look at what you find. Arts are on how they can help us in creating compositions you find her is a simple tool used to compose a view typically for drawing or a painting it. I sort it's a part of the scene from in surroundings. This helps us in deter mining. What pain on what to leave out. They can have fixed or variable proportions. You find a made with two L shaped cardboard pieces can create squares or rectangles off different sizes and proportion in the field. You can also make a viewfinder with your own fingers. Spacing between the fingers can create a square or a rectangle hold of you. Find out in front of your eyes by looking at the scene, which you want to paint, then move it around to find a pleasing composition. You can even use a smartphone as a viewfinder. But beyond making a terminal sketch, do not refer the hologram. Always look at the scene or object by 20. Once you find a good composition, make a Tom names cage. Based on that, in the next lecture, we look at how you find us off. Different proportions are used to find multiple compositions based on a single scene 6. Framing And Cropping: in this lecture. Let's look at framing and cropping. Suppose you are out in the field on. You're seeing this kind off seen then the immediate reaction is toe set up your easel on start painting, but we should award Doing that on should look at how we can best capture the scene or the drama scene how we can develop multiple paintings. So for that, we use something that is gone, uh, frame or how we frame a painting Didn't within a given frame, for example, there could be a frame. It is rectangle. We could paint a painting that is horizontal, or we could paint a painting which is more vertical than horizontal. So, for example, this could be our painting. This could be another painting, Andi, Just even if we moved us, you find a little bit, we can get a different painting out of the same scene. So the idea should be to draw various tummies like these from the same scene before we actually put paint to the canvas or paper. So, for example, I have used this This you find Square one? No, paint our toe draw tom name registers and I've broken down the whole scene in tow. Big masses, I'm not going into the details up it. I just want to see how this pending would look like. So this is the big Three. Here is the mountain range on the few trees here. And I've made this in tow role which leads to the ideal focus, which is this That's the place where the highest on trustees. Now, let's look at the second kind of framing which began Look at And that's, uh, very horizontal kinda for painting. If you have ah, viewfinder that is off this format. Then you could move this around the scene on you can see this also create can give you a lot off paintings. You could even move the you find a vertical on mega vertical and see how it can produce different compositions. For example, this one is very nice one which I find right now. Then if you could go on doing that with the pulpit. So, for example, and what I've done here is I've created a company based on this position off the viewfinder on this is the and this is the scene which I have made out of this only difference that I made here Is that in Slough the rule being on the right inside of the three, I've made it towards the left, inside of the tweet. So that again so that I can show that the Rory is leading to the a T l focus for me which is the base of the tree here. And then I have broken down this holding in tow big shapes again, which is the big mountain here than a few trees on in some field here and again the roll it leads to the the tree is day off office. Now let's look at the third format which are used off the viewfinder, which can give you even different compositions. So, for example, this is the This is the way I framed this part of the sea and I'm kind of created this time They'll all of it, which is this tree. The big tree is here, and this is a tree in the foreground. And then there is a smaller. We have reduced the size of this three even further just to give it more distance on the I've shooted roar so that this is it is darker. Here and as it approaches the ideal focus, which is this for me, it becomes lighter than later because I said travels from darker areas towards like the media. So I want ice contrast in this area. So I made the three dark on the or very light in this area so that the eye is lead lead. So as you can see, we can looking at the same scene, you can create multiple come nails and then then we can decide which one is actually worth investing our time in. So for me, looking at these three paintings, I would say I would first prefer to paint this one because this gives are very nice feel to the whole seen second preference would be this painting which is showing the role in the trees here. I weren't going for painting this one because I don't like this competition. The whole idea off doing some nails is that we make all the mistakes and try all the combinations before we actually go and paint something so that when we are painting the ideal off, how the conversing competition is going to be is very much clear in our head on. We just have to put pain and then depending really so similarly using our different scene again created three competitions. This is the scene which have used for this these three time needs. I can move this frame to create various compositions. So depending on wanted one which competition looks best to you, you can go on on meet tumblin sort If it on all you then decide which ones is the best one and then paint that So this is the combination or this is the position of viewfinder which are used on made This time on. You can see these three time names which have made this one is the vertical in the same format as this one and out of these again I seem to like this one the first and this one second and nor despair one. So here you can see the grandeur off the mountain here and I've introduced a role here just which takes me to this area off focus on here. I have suggested a few lines in the fields which again take me through the video focus which is here again for me just again going ask for the rule of thirds it's somewhere near this, this intersection off these two lines. So that is how we should be doing framing on, cropping off the scene in front of us toe, do various thumbnails and then decide which ones actually want toe develop into a painting . Two important points before we close this lecture is that you should look at the masses in Slough. Details in the scene on made the scene as simple as possible so that you come nails are quick to draw. And then if the tunnel is not interesting enough, the painting is not going to be interesting. No matter how many details are fellow radiations, you added on the company's give you a road map off where you're going on very want to stop . 7. Conventions in Composition: Let's look at a few conventions in competition. Please know that I said Conventions, not goods. Try using them for good competitions, but it's not necessary that every drawing or painting you should follow one of these conventions. A very common convention of creating a good composition is to use the rule of thirds. The idea is to divide the paper or canvas into three equal shapes by drawing two vertical lines and horizontal lines. Then, while composing the picture can is to be taken to make sure that the focal area off the painting lives near one off the four intersection points, another convention of competition is to use the golden ratio. If the height of the painting is one unit, then the world should be one for six units. If we go on dividing the rectangle into a square and a rectangle progressively and joining the opposite corners with a curb, Bigot aspired like this in nature. The spiral arrangement is found in the Nautilus shells in the arrangement of Sun Flores ease and so on. When used in composition, the idea is to place the focal area where they're Speidel closes him. This method was popularly used by another just to reiterate these air the conventions and not the rule, try using them for good compositions and also try breaking them to see what we got to get. 8. Summary of Composition class: Let's summarize the things which contribute to a good composition when you arrive at the place, very want to paint your next landscape, or even when you arrange a still life, walk around and see the scene from different sites. Spend time looking at the scene winterized to see the big shapes on the value Relationships always use a viewfinder frame on crop. A scene in the field. You may even use your fingers to create a viewfinder you can see through the idea indicated . Buyer and color. Spacing between the fingers can create a square or rectangular viewfinder to arrive at a good composition. Simplify things by eliminating complex details from the scene. Make it a habit. Meat. Come need sketches more the better while making thumbnails. Always think in terms of masses and not lines. Use our meter to give structure to your competition. Without a proper structure, there is a danger off your painting looking and because can was or paper you used for the final painting should have the same proportions as that off your company. Use a mirror to check your composition. It reveals things that you want otherwise. Use gradation from dark to light to draw your attention to the focal area. If you follow these guidelines for creating better composition by the time you start applying paint, you're already on the way to creating your next pasta, please.