Research: Composition

Composition describes the way visual elements of a design are laid out or organized in the frame. It usually takes into account alignment, grouping, placement, space and the natural visual flow within a frame

Good composition guides the viewer around the different elements of an image, and creates a pleasing viewing experience. It creates a sense of unity, flow and visual interest. Composition can focus a viewers eye on the most important parts of a design. It can also achieve balance, which is something I think is important in my final image because of the natural theme, so I will think carefully about my composition.

A popular composition layout is the rule of thirds concept.


The idea is that the image is sectioned into 9 equal parts using two horizontal and two vertical lines. Important elements of a design are then placed according the intersections of these lines, where the viewers eye is automatically drawn. Horizons are often placed within a third rather than in the middle, however there are no set rules with this layout, it is just a guideline.

This is the layout I am looking to use in my image, as I think it provides a nice natural balance, and that is a big part of the idea I am trying to portray, a balance between nature and humans.

The golden ratio is another common composition layout.

fibonacci-spiral examples-of-the-golden-ratio-you-can-find-in-nature-26434

The idea behind this layout is in its occurrence in nature. The Golden Mean or Phi is a ratio is a mathematical design that takes the shape of a spiral, commonly seen in natural objects such as shells, horns and flowers. Research suggests that viewers are intrinsically attracted to this ratio- even the faces of supermodels have been said to contain this golden ratio. It guides the eye to a single point in the frame.

The single visual layout is a simple concept that involves one dominant focus and simple backgrounds.


The Z layout is also quite simple, following the natural Z patterned eye movement around a frame. It is often used in websites, where elements are placed according to the order viewers’ eyes follow along a page.


Other principals of composition include balance, negative and positive space, rhythm, unity, harmony, movement, pattern and dominance.


Shillcock, R. (2013, September 9). An introduction to composition. Retrieved from–webdesign-14508

Berdan, R. (2004, Janurary 20). Composition and the elements of visual design. Retrieved from

Composistion: Principals of design. (2008, Janurary 16). Retrieved from


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s