“Bad” 2D Compositions 1

This video discusses common problems artists encounter with 2D compositions, explaining how certain types of compositions can come across as tiresome and/or cliche. Next, artwork examples are shown explaining which are effective, which are not, and why the they think a composition is successful or not.

Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Lauryn Welch and Alex Rowe.

Video Walkthrough

  • Make yourself aware of compositions that are very common and generic.
  • Centered compositions tend to feel static and predictable.
  • The “halo effect” is common in a portrait composition.
  • Centered composition are often the default reaction to composition.
  • Often times compositions aren’t engaging because people aren’t actively considering it.
  • There’s a difference between making a quick sketch and creating a composition.
  • Artworks without a focal point tend to feel aimless and scattered.
  • Without a focal point, compositions feel too spread out or too busy.
  • Centered compositions aren’t inherently ineffective, but ask yourself if you really need it.
  • Random horizon lines often times make the space look very flat.
  • Planning a composition with thumbnail sketches.
  • Create a little viewfinder with your fingers to observe things.
  • Blank backgrounds often make an artwork look unfinished or flat.
  • Avoid “filler” backgrounds: a background that doesn’t do much.
  • Making deliberate composition choices to crop or not.
  • Art direction in editorial illustration.

Prof Lieu’s Tips

People often think that spending time on a thumbnail means that they are “taking time away” from working on the final drawing. But really, what you’re doing by spending more time on the thumbnail is you’re making the process of creating the final artwork smoother

Later, when you’re working on the final artwork, you won’t have to worry about fundamental stuff like composition. If you’re still not sure about your composition while you’re working on the final artwork, that’s going to take forever to figure out!

Plus, there are so many other concerns when you do get to the final drawing. You’ll be thinking about how you are handling your media, how much detail to add, etc. You don’t want the distraction of composition, etc. at that stage.