“Create with heart, build with the mind.” — Chris Jami, American poet, essayist, musician, singer, designer, lyricist, and existentialist philosopher
Why Learning the Art of Composition Matters
Our last series, Graphic Design Basic Elements, covered all the components for creating a painting, artwork, or graphic design.
Next, in this series, we cover a complete composite of options for compositional design by defining the structure of any artwork. The possibilities start with eight primary devices and expand to sixty-four combinations.
The 64 Compositional Device Series is the foundation for constructing a design to deliver the full intent of the artist.
Every artwork’s composition uses one of the eight devices as the primary description for the compositional quality of the design.
This post’s introduction graphic has a primary device of One Dominant. The globe is the one dominant device. However, it contains a secondary device. And that is the landscape scene with the birds lifting into the foreground with a fiery sun behind them. This one dominant focal point lies in the center of the image. It should never touch the edges of the artwork.
This device does not touch the edges but lies within the image. The artwork also contains another compositional quality as a secondary device termed structure.
The 8 Primary Compositional Devices
By the time we cover all 64 possibilities you will have examples for each one as a downloadable image.
Here is a list of the primary eight devices:
- One Dominant
- Two Dominant
- Negative Positive
Simple Examples of the 8 Compositional Devices
Here is a slide show of simple graphics for each of the 8 devices. They will become a main foundation for your artwork.
Art Play Exercises
Grab your art journals from the previous series and it’s time to play! If you are new then grab a notebook, some art materials, and a bunch of old magazines.
- Look through old magazines that you don’t mind ripping out the pages. Identify at least three examples of each of the eight devices. Start a slush file which is a term used by artists. It’s a folder containing examples of visual ideas that you can categorize as examples. The contents serve as a reference to stimulate your imagination each time you begin a new creative project. Remember, conceptual time is also productive time. 🤔
- Play with your favorite art medium and illustrate an example of each of the eight devices. In this creative playtime, remember to keep it simple. This way you can breeze through all eight and get them in your etched into your memory. You’ll also have your notebook for future reference!
Our next tutorial will expand on the One-Dominate compositional device combinations. Eventually your notebook will continue a total of 64 possible layout and design compositions.
Downloadable Tutorial Sheets
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