Hey buddy! Sorry for taking so long to get back to you!
Composition is a very powerful tool that is one of those “practice it, and it’ll just come naturally to you, to the point where you won’t be aware you’ll be using it” kind of things.
I’m gonna try break and down the basic ideas for you, but since tumblr will only let me use one picture in this answer, I’m gonna do it in dot points. :P
- Alright, in this, you can see clearly that the main focus is the big ass circle, yes? Second being the small dot, and third being the line. That is what composition is. Using the basic fundamentals of the subjects to PRIORITIZE what the audience will see first, i.e. determine what is more important than the other. In this case, because big ass circle is numero uno, the small point is now a secondary thing, something that RELATES to the big ass circle. “Wow, look at how tiny that circle is in comparison!”
That’s using SIZE as a composition tool.
- Okay, in this one, it’s a bit messy, but I wanted to get across the “composition to encourage flow” idea. If I did a zigzag from the circles, you eye will be lead all across the frame, no? If it’s a nice smooth circle, the effort required for your eyes to follow is significantly less; there is better flow.
The more effort it takes for your eye to see everything you want them to see, the less flow it has.
- In numero 3, we see a circle, and some lines pointing to it. Did you notice how you immediately/shortly looked at the circle? It’s because the lines led your eyes to it. “Why doesn’t it lead my eyes OUT of the frame if you say lines lead our eyes around” you ask? Good question! It’s because there are MULTIPLE lines pointing in the SAME direction. If you saw everyone in a mall looking up, you’re gonna look up. You’re not gonna look at everyone before you look up, you’ll look straight up. Now, if there was a bunch of people staring in multiple directions, and one guy was looking up, it’ll take you a lot longer to look up, because no one else is, and therefore it’s not important. Does that make sense?
The most important thing you need to know about a line is where it starts, and where it ends. That’s why lines lead your eyes so well; I don’t care about the tiny scratches on the longsword, I want to look at the sweet pointy bit and the swaggy ass hilt. And to see those, I have to not pay too much attention to the tiny scratches, and follow the blade until I get to where I want to look.
In this composition in particular, since all lines are ending up in nearly the same place, we’re gonna look there for sure. Leading lines! :D
- Do we need multiple lines to get the leading line effect? Nah brah! Check it, if we have a swirly whirly line on the frame, your eyeballs will travel along the line (checking out all the nice views along the way) and then getting off at the end to have the nice eye-treat ice-cream! The cool thing about long lines that curve and stuff is that they’re less straightforward than the sharp straight lines, meaning that they appear more organic and fluid, as well as perhaps more meaningful and serene! If you want to paint a nice nature scene, consider it!
Also, I think it’s worth noting that you don’t literally need lines there, they just need to be implied, like a bunch of mountains lined up in that way or patches of light that lead the eyeballs that way.
- Here’s a neat one that I personally love using; central compositions. Now, just like how red can be used in paintings to represent anger and passion, and how squares in design can show sturdiness and resiliance, shapes and colours and all that jazz can also be used in composition! In this example, I’ve used the ol’ Jesus cross (which is in itself a holy symbol already), but then I also smacked it right bang in the middle, which implies the idea of perfection. But wait, you know what else is perfect? Circles. Smack that right in the middle too, hell yeah! Now let’s make it glow bright like a sun! SO MUCH IMPLICATIONS OF DIVINITY! This is how composition works, having all these small little tools come together and combo to give a meaning to your paintings, whether it’s “hey, look at this part of the painting, isn’t it neat? You can check out other things too if you want, but this is the cool part” or it’s “I AM ALPHA AND OMEGA, DON’T LOOK AT ANYTHING ELSE FOR I AM MORE IMPORTANT THAN ALL”, composition is way cool and fun to play around with!
- Finally, I want to revisit the priority thing. The clearer the list of priority is, the less jarring your image will look. You can switch around prioritizing by dealing with stuff like shape, colour, contrast, all those tricks, but if you don’t focus the tools, it all becomes a big mess, and it becomes a “well I don’t know where to even begin with this image, I’m just gonna skip it”. Make sure you clearly tell the viewer what the cool part of the painting is; if it’s too complicated, they won’t want to try.
Anyway, I hope that helped you, friend! Let me know if there’s anything else you want to ask! :)
If you cant attend life drawing sessions. This is the best thing for you
Let me show you something I recently found : Croquis Cafe!
You get to see models of different colors and shapes in a life drawing setting. They move and breath while posing (breathing like in real life :O) ambient music is playing in the background and you have 1, 2 and 5 minute sessions. I find it very helpful , you should try it.