What to Consider When Making a Composition

Before you start drawing, it helps to plan your ideas. Composition is the idea of setting up your drawing. How many ideas, people, and objects do you want to use in your drawing?

In the drawing below, I thought to create a small still-frame of a scene. In the drawing of the two people, I wanted to show how you can create mood, emotion, and action.



First, consider how the two girls are sitting together and the body language that they may be using. The girl lying down is relaxed with her head back. This is a classic pose for someone sleeping, hurt, or perhaps dead. The other girl looking down on her further explains sadness, perhaps remorse, or maybe just tiredness. The girls are similar in age and size, so this would suggest that they may be sisters or close friends.

There is a lot one could tell from this picture or may feel. Creating a compositing is a great way to stir the imagination.

Structure: Looking for a frame, imagine yourself as a photographer. It’s the same idea without a view box. Instead, create your own view box, using a mix of what you see and what you want to draw. Create space between objects by finding a fixed point and compare the size of one object to other objects.

Setup: Once you have an idea of your frame, you may want to organize your drawing, change position lighting, and how things are sitting in the space you have. Creating a setup with models can take time. Try multiple times to find what looks better along with more than one sitting with the same pose in order to draw what you have. Alternately, you can do the same thing- take a photo and draw what you see from the photo, or use a photo that was already taken.

Background: When setting up a drawing, consider more than what you are drawing. Background gives depth and realism along with creating a set that is frozen in time.

Foreground: Sometimes you have space before what you are drawing. It helps to know what to do with this space. If you are using the space, it helps create perspective.

Space: Structure and space are similar; however, space is what is not in the frame. Structure is what is in the frame.

Point of view: Once you have everything set up, perhaps you want to change where you are looking from in order to get a different view of the same setting.

Perspective: Along with point of view, background and foreground can help create space and reality in a drawing. For example, the human body looking more round instead of flat will help create reality. One can do this by creating directional shading.

Lighting: Try to think about what light you are using. This is more important if you choose to use contrast, or perhaps you want a more mid-town lighting effect.

Location: Where is your setting going to be? Outside, inside, in a city or in the woods?

Frame: What type of frame are you going to use? Portrait, landscape or something else?

Idea: What is happening in your setting? What story do you want to tell with one picture?