Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
The Secret to Composition by Lulie The Secret to Composition by Lulie
This should be applicable to both painters and photographers and all other visual artists with occasional tips for one or the other in particular.

Always love questions, comments and criticism!

UPDATE: I was always skeptical of the rule of thirds/golden ratio, but in this post James Gurney explains a bit about why, and how the eye actually moves. The main thing I neglected to mention in this tutorial is that the eye is scanning for information. All of these compositional things are ways to make the right information more obvious to find at the right times.

UPDATE 2: Wow, thanks so much for the DD! I didn't realise what a big difference it can make. You guys are what inspire me to make tutorials, so if there's anything else you found a little mysterious about art, don't hesitate to suggest it!


Feng Zhu's FZDSchool tutorials on YouTube

"In this place..." ConceptArt thread

Bill Tiller's How to Draw Monkeys the Lucas Arts Way

Feng Zhu videos
- Make subject bigger
- Atmospheric perspective

Great tutorials on composition:
- Matt Laskowski's Perspective & Composition
- Johannes Vloothuis's Landscape Composition Rules

I'm taking tutorial suggestions here: [link]

Follow me on Twitter, where I post tips, useful links and cool art-related things I stumble across:
Add a Comment:

Daily Deviation

Given 2012-10-02
The suggester states "This is a very detailed tutorial on the aspects of good composition. The images are helpful and prove the points the artist is trying to make. It explains everything very well and is a great resource." The Secret to Composition by =lulie ( Suggested by Rbananas and Featured by Elandria )
Jed-Stuart Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2015  Student General Artist
Extra points for referencing Mokey Island and automatically awesome :)
Sreejithnambranath Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2015  Student General Artist
this is great!!!  thank you very much
watjong Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2015
Great overview of all the elements that make up the symphony called "composition" 
NFFN2 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2015  New Deviant
Thanks a lot for your tutorial!
raku-t-h-r-a Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you so much !
amandioka Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2015
Thank you so much! This is the best tutorial I've found so far. Very very helpful!
SGTROCK117 Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Nice tut easy to understand(often harder to implement in practice lol)
Thanks for sharing:)
Maniakuk Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well explained tutorial :) 
TheBlue-Light Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The way to show it is great good
RSH26oct88 Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2015  Professional General Artist
This tutorials are great
Artzmakerz Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2015
So much great information here, thank you for taking the time to do this! :D
CommanderHomo Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
this looks lovely and nice!
thanks for it ~ <333 !!
tempestofazure Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
It's always nice to have a reminder or lesson on the fundamentals, thanks
UltimateChimeraBlood Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Man, I feel like crying right now. Everything you said is so helpful and easy to follow, it would almost be a sin not to listen. Big props on this!
thebbsrx Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
thank you so much now mistsubishi drawing will finished well
Textures-and-More Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2014
Thanks for doing this. Ive also been leary of the rule of thirds. Great work
Ro-Kat Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
this is great! thank you <3
Leon-Z Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2014
D8!!!! thanks a lot!!!!
hecc95 Featured By Owner May 31, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This gives great examples of the different concepts in composition, something few tutorials really do. This will help me wonders, thank you!
UntoldPromises Featured By Owner May 31, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Super helpful! Thank you so so so so much! :)
Thnoman Featured By Owner May 8, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Ridiculously helpful and very easy to understand. exactly what I was looking for! thank you so much :)
malin-markk Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Great tutorial. I took a lot of useful notes from this and it's surely going to improve my painting/drawing a bit :)
Thank you very much for sharing it!
Isabel-Afolalu Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This is so useful! Thank you soo much!
thredd Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2014  Student General Artist
thanks a lot!
HiddenWorlds Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This looks great, thank you very much it helped me try a new background and see what was wrong with my previous ones more. =)
duran3d Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Professional General Artist
Wow, this is an amazing guide. Most -if not all- important things about composition sumarized in one little tutorial. I like it very much. You are a true master.
tokiratokia Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2014  Student General Artist
beckyscake Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2013
Really helpful breakdown.
BankaiBlade Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2013
Wonderful explanation!!Dance! 
izzi3bootz Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Great tutorial, thank you!
CIC-Studios Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Wow,this is wonderful! It definitely helps me understand composition better now! I was having trouble with this! Thanks so much!:)~:heart:
Honesty-Art-Fashion Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Very comprehensive. Would love a print of this hanging in my studio.
risingson16 Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2013
AWESOME Tutorial. Thanks. :)

HentaiMags Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2013
I never noticed these things. Thanks for clearing it up! I definitely know where my characters should be situated.
FireYuuki Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for the tutorial
CharmKwon Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013
amazing tutorial! thank you so much!
Sora108 Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013   General Artist
very comprehensive art principles tutorials . very very helpful :)
xitement Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2013
very good
MartinaMoretti Featured By Owner May 16, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Extremely useful tutorial! Everything is so well explained. Thanks for making this!
EstrangeloEdessa Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
It's amazing how perfect and detailed this is. I really like how in-depth it goes. I already had a vague handle on some of the rules -- like off-center framing and sharp curves vs gentle curves and things like that -- but I never really thought about why. I'll just crop something until it "looks good," but I don't think about how people look at it.
Ame89 Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2013  Professional Artist
This is very helpful! :)
Tetrodoxin Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Hi, thank you so much for this tutorial. :D
Rebehm Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This tutorial is excellent. :D Your explanations are clear and easy to follow. I fully intend to direct new artists here because even the simplest techniques are beautified by skillful composition. By that same token, even the finest technical skill will not look its best without this knowledge behind its presentation. :D

Thank you for posting a clear explanation of what is probably one of the most important things any visual artist needs to know!
MarinCristina Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2013  Professional Photographer
Wonderful tutorial, in fact it may be the best I've found on dA! :love: Your explanations are clear, concise and cover all the important points :) I've had my share of struggles with composition as a photographer, but now I'm tackling digital painting and I'm finding it harder to envision good comps, but your tutorial helped so much. Thank you!:clap:
cesca-specs Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
AWESOME. Like a very articulate list of things I should have known by now but didn't!
Lulie Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:D Thanks!

Let me know if you find it useful in actual drawings.
I still need to learn more about composition. I do photography on the side, which is largely consists of practice of composition (there are only so many decisions one can make in photography, compared to drawing, and composition is the main one), but I ought to find some more drawing-based exercises to internalise it.
cesca-specs Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Will do!! :)
Giova94 Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2013
Thanks very much! this is very helpful!
Lulie Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome. :)
TheSteampug Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2013  Student Filmographer
Very informative, quick and to the point =)
Thanks for taking the time to make this.
Great seeing another Feng Zhu fan over here ^^
Add a Comment:


Submitted on
December 2, 2011
Image Size
1.5 MB
Submitted with


96,353 (52 today)
7,320 (who?)
2,951 (1 today)


Creative Commons License
Some rights reserved. This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.