Great 2D Compositions

What qualities are seen in great 2D compositions in art? Examples of impactful compositions from fine art, comics, illustration, movies, and more are shown in this video.

42 min. video

These examples explain and break down the compositions to point out strategies that make for an engaging 2D composition. Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Jordan McCracken-Foster.

Clara Lieu
Clara Lieu

Video Walkthrough

  • Use shapes of varying sizes within a composition.
  • Big shapes are effective to provide visual impact, small shapes provide more for the eye to chew on.
  • Composition serves the subject & mood of the artwork.
  • Aim to create compositions that engages the viewer from far away & up close.
  • An effective composition moves your eye around the entire artwork.
  • One part of a composition can point or lead you to another part.
  • Balance between areas that are visually loud and quiet.
  • Consider point of view, are you in the scene? Are you an observer?
  • Is your composition showing a bird’s eye view? A worm’s eye view?
  • Ask yourself where the focal point of the composition is, where do you want your viewers to look?
  • How can you direct the viewer to notice specific areas?
  • Use diagonals to create a sense of movement and dynamic action.
  • Allow subjects to be cropped off the edge of the composition.
  • Give viewers a reason to look into the corners of your composition.
Clara Lieu
Watercolor in Utah: Goblin Valley & Mushrooms

Blue Wolf’s Tips

One of the uses of AI art is that it can be used to do your thumbnails to create any reference you want. There will always be a market for art made by humans.

Comics Track: Instructional Comics Prompt
Comics Prompt: Draw an Instructional Comic

Think of pasta – you can get machine made pasta and get it very inexpensively. But to get hand made FRESH pasta. Now, that’s worth a whole lot more.

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Artists mentioned

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