Composition: rule of thirds
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Composition: rule of thirds

October 22, 2019


Let’s look at composition. Some simple options
but powerful. One of the most commonly used concepts is called the Rule of Thirds. Comes
for a 14-15th century mathematical concept of the Golden Section or Golden Mean. In modern
times that has been simplified to a Rule of Thirds. If this is our drawing space, essentially
what we do is, we divide, measured or by eye, into 9 equal parts, hence the rule of thirds.
You can use a ratio of 5:8 or use a method that involves a compass or elipses. For this
simple demonstration we will use the rule of thirds commonly used to help us make decisions
about what goes where in the picture design; where we want the eye to be drawn to and so
on. You can see the lines cross each other at four points. These are called the four
focal points. These are where we would put or place near to some of the points of interest
in our design. It is extremely powerful to use. If we were to think of an image that
might be used here then lets look at a new sheet. Here is the image area again, within
the edges of the sheet so I have an edge for doodles or notes. It
gives me also a clear space in which to draw
my design. So lets put in our thirds. Lets do a still-life. Use this line here, draw
a bottle on that line. I would now the bottle is in a good, strong place within my rectangle
drawing area. You can see the focal points here and here. This could a reflection perhaps,
someone reflected in the bottle, of interest. Then we can use these horizontal lines as
well to create a horizon lune, a
high one makes the table top sit up. Imagine a light source coming in top right, so as
well as using the compositional tool of the rule of thirds, I am closing off the shapes
– really important – gives it strength and vitality, and starts to fit together like
so. I have two more focal points, I can now play with. Perhaps we put a bowl with fruit
in it, on the focal point maybe its the texture or to add some drama, a bit off centre perhaps,
using some of the benefits of the rule, or scaffolding as I also call it, Then I can
play with other details and features using the direction of light. Now you can see something
interesting happening with sense of balance. This applies to any subject – landscape, even
a portrait using the focal points. That gives you a very quick idea of how to use the rule
of thirds to help you make decisions about composition and design. At his stage it is
a lot about design element decisions. So there you have it, the rule of thirds.

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