10 Rules of Composition you must keep in Mind!

Humans are fond of balance, design and artwork. Your careful consideration, preparation, and little patience with the familiarity of nuances of visual design generate a great artistic composition. It merely conveys the mood a designer or artist wants to express.

Whether it is the composition of a picture, the composition in the design, or the composition in photography, these are simply inseparable. All of you have an intuitive notion of composition in varying degrees. It is about a similar perception of unity, harmony, and integrity. The composition is the way to organize the principles of design.

Shapes, lines, texture, color, spaces, and form are the elements of design. At the same time, the contrast, balance, movement, emphasis, unity, pattern, and rhythm are the principles of design. All these components affect the experience of a viewer to see a design, let it be on software or even on vape cartridge boxes.

Definition of composition:

’Composition is the placement or arrangement of the visual elements of a picture, design, or an artwork’’. Or ‘’Composition in itself is considered as the correct arrangement of the elements of a design, based upon the human perception of visual information’’.

 You may also call it the ‘’layout’’ of a piece in terms of graphic design. The composition is not the main subject of a design or artwork, but it is about where you put an object. The compositional scheme can increase or decrease the value of your design or artwork. This is the reason that the designers and artists pay special attention to find the most expressive compositional scheme.

The basic ideology behind designing composition is that all the objects can be easily fit into any of the three basic geometrical shapes (triangle, rectangle, and ellipse). The goals of the compositions are:

  • Purposeful arrangement of all the designed elements.
  • Creating a story with the design
  • Visual delivery of a message
  • Creation of a powerful impact

Basic Design Principles:

To understand design composition, a designer needs to understand the basic design principles first. Here are some of the basic design principles:

  • Unity:

Unity means nothing is there to distract from the whole, but unity without variations is simply humdrum. Unity with diversity offers more in both designing and life.

  • Emphasis:

It is about influence and dominance that is called ‘’Center of Interest’’. Designers may avoid emphasis on purpose. Sometimes they avoid emphasis because they want all parts of the design to be equally important and interesting. Putting emphasis off-center is also common to balance the design with a few minor themes.

  • Opposition:

The use of contrasting visual concepts is called opposition. It is a situational contrast in a simple and clear design to make it expressive and dramatic by the addition of a little extra detail. Such as a peaceful valley landscape becomes terribly interesting when a volcanic eruption builds.

  • Harmony:

The combination of complementary effects and layers is required to produce a more attractive whole that is called harmony. Although the composition of design gets complex with harmony, everything appears to fit with everything else.

10 Rules of Composition:

To create an awesome visual design, selecting the right elements for design is only half of the journey. The rest is about putting everything together to create a harmonious combination of typography, colors, and shapes.

Perfect composition is all about arrangement, distribution, alignment, and compilation of a design that not only appears attractive and beautiful, but it is impressively functional too. To master the art of composition for design, you must have to live following 10 rules of composition:

1.Direct the viewer’s eye with leading lines:

Human eyes take in a lot more visual information than the brain can consciously process. That is why you need selective attention to look at what you think most important. Visual information distracts the human mind even it is irrelevant. But a designer knows to direct the eyes to look at a certain point of the design and to get the viewer’s attention.

Leading lines are the basic components of a flow chart. As a flow chart uses lines to direct the eyes from one point to the next, similarly, a design uses these lines. By positioning certain shapes and lines in a particular way, a designer controls the viewpoint of a viewer. Just like a person points at something to make people attentive about it, positioning of particular lines and shapes in a specific way can control the viewpoint of viewers.

2. Focus is the key in design composition:

The strong focal point is the strength of design composition that naturally attracts the eyes of viewers to settle on the most important pieces of a design first. No matter that design is composed of how many elements; a designer stresses the most important part of their design. Communication is the main goal of any design, whether it is a feeling, emotion, an idea, or some sort of information, every design tells a story. A focal point helps to narrate that story most effectively and strongly.

3. Include hierarchy:

Hierarchy is the organization of the complete information available in a design with the help of colors, weight, contrast, typography, spacing, or size. Hierarchy is the element that people struggle with. It is the structure and setup of design elements to visually reveal the importance. When it comes to typefaces, it becomes crucial. This visual hierarchy is the creative fundamental that can make or break a design. For rendering the design proportion, a scale is likewise a helpful tool, and the use of visual scaling allows designers to create several effects.

4. Importance of using complementing elements:

It is essential to create visual harmony for creating a balanced design. A unified look of design enhances the impact of the message delivered by it. The collection of various images with no style similarities from different sources can confuse the viewers and tire their eyes. A deliberate and meticulous selection of every single element of the design creates a powerful composition with everything complementary.

Coloring the visuals in the same way and using graphics designed with similar techniques are the best complementing options. Image modifying tools and filter options are also helpful to adjust a visual with complimentary combinations and natural pallet.

5. Use contrasts:

To stand out certain elements of design, contrasting is the most efficient tool. The very first thing human eye notices in a design is the difference. Whether it is the difference of color, size, position, texture, or shape differentiation between different items and grouping of similar is in human nature. This contrast makes it possible to conceptualize a design, and a strong connection between different elements may enhance the effectiveness of the design.

6. Repetition of elements:

For a logical and consistent design, it is also important to repeat some specific components and use these for other parts. Repetition of certain elements helps to achieve cohesiveness in design, and viewers recognize the visual pattern easily. This rule is highly applicable, especially in multi-page designs where duplicating elements aid each page flow naturally to the next.

7. Embrace white spaces:

Negative or white spaces are parts of an overall design. These are not empty spaces, but essentials for a design to breathe and relax. These white spaces are considered as the best tool to bring clarity into a design composition. These spaces prominent in the main subject of design, and the composition feels more dramatic in the presence of this negative space. White spaces calm down the design composition allows its viewer’s a rest between elements that the designer wanted them to see or read.

8. Follow the rule of thirds:

Rule of the third is the simplest and valuable composition rule that is a brilliant go-to-tool for beginners and professional designers as well. This is a technique about the horizontal and vertical division of a frame into third. This rule suggests that the focal point of a design should lie at the intersection of lines. This rule helps to create a dynamic design that is asymmetrical and not completely centered.

This rule is highly applicable when a designer chooses a single dominant element in the design, and this key part of the design results in asymmetry. This rule of asymmetry is effective for other elements of composition, also such as color and form.

9.      Play with shapes:

Conceptualizing a design as a single shape is not a good idea. Consideration of the shapes of every element in a design is a better way to identify the interaction of different shapes with each other. Soft round shapes are slower to frame than dominant shapes like triangles and squares. In fact, the triangle shapes create movement, develop interest, and set directions. Triangles are considered as the strongest shapes, and designers use these shapes to organize their visual elements as well as the layouts of designs.

10. Art of simplicity and transitions:

According to Nathan Fowkes, ‘’if every part of your art is equally important, then it is equally unimportant too. ‘Simplicity enhances the powers of the message in design and reduces the composition only to the most essential supporting elements of a visual statement. The statement ‘’less is more’’ is always relevant for design composition. It is a fact that most remarkable designs feature a powerful composition with enough simplicity while embracing the negative spaces.

Transitions are the total opposite of simplicity, and they are a little harder to define too. Transitions are the intermediates that deal with the flow of one shape to another naturally. Curved lines smoothen the transitions more easily than angular structures. These circular lines and shapes generate softness in the design and relax the eyes also.


These are some of the serious guidelines on how to improve the artistic compositions of a design. Following these rules is the only way for designers to improve their work and skills. Whatever medium a designer working in, there is always room for betterment to make the designs more dramatic, interesting, and compelling.

In a personal context, it is advised to follow the rules more and break these rules more than before. A designer learns the art of creating a perfect composition in specific outcomes by following and rejecting these rules equally. Sometimes breaking the rules can create wonders, but for this, you just have to know the proper use of these rules.

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