Avoid These Compositional Kinks


We can all agree that art is subjective. However, there are some things that are universally acknowledged to be detrimental to a composition and having a good composition directly affects the quality of an art piece. Of course you are always free to take full advantage of your creative license as an artist and it’s up to you to decide whether you want to break the rules or not. Regardless, it’s always smart to take design principles seriously and to take on a thoughtful approach to your work, especially when you’re still learning. 

Tangents, tension points, and passive overlapping are the kind of details I look for in a composition before moving from a rough sketch to a tight sketch. These kinks can seriously affect the quality of your work, so it’s important to address them early on in the sketching process to avoid having to make adjustments later on. This will increase the quality of your work and save you time in the long run. 


When lines or shapes touch at a single point, drawing unwanted attention to that area. 


Tension Points

When lines or shapes are not touching, but are close enough to one another to create visual tension, drawing unwanted attention to that area.


Passive Overlapping

When lines, shapes, or objects are passively overlapping, drawing unwanted attention to that area. If you actually want things to overlap, make it look intentional. 


Cropping At Joints

Specifically when dealing with figures, cropping at the joints looks awkward and draws the viewer’s eye to the edge of the composition (and away from your art!). 


It might take a bit of effort, but once you make it a part of your process to scan for these compositional kinks you’ll find it easier to spot them in your work and others’. It won’t be too long before you avoid making these mistakes naturally, making you a more competent and efficient artist.