In the visual arts – in particular
painting, graphic design, photography and sculpture –
composition is the placement or arrangement of visual
elements or ingredients in a work of art or a photograph,
as distinct from the subject of a work. It can also be
thought of as the organization of the elements of art
according to the principles of art.
The term composition means 'putting together,' and can
apply to any work of art, from music to writing to photography,
that is arranged or put together using conscious thought.
In the visual arts, composition is often used interchangeably
with various terms such as design, form, visual ordering,
or formal structure, depending on the context. In graphic
design and desktop publishing, composition is commonly
referred to as page layout.
Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is a compositional rule
of thumb in visual arts such as painting, photography
and design. The rule states that an image should be imagined
as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced
horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines,
and that important compositional elements should be placed
along these lines or their intersections. Proponents of
the technique claim that aligning a subject with these
points creates more tension, energy and interest in the
composition than simply centering the subject would.
The photograph to the right demonstrates the application
of the rule of thirds. The horizon sits at the horizontal
line dividing the lower third of the photo from the upper
two-thirds. The tree sits at the intersection of two lines,
sometimes called a power point or a crash point. Points
of interest in the photo don't have to actually touch
one of these lines to take advantage of the rule of thirds.
For example, the brightest part of the sky near the horizon
where the sun recently set does not fall directly on one
of the lines, but does fall near the intersection of two
of the lines, close enough to take advantage of the rule.