Challenge 3: Composition

Before you start a drawing, ask yourself what you would like to emphasize. Write it down so you don’t forget. Deciding what the most important part of the image will make it clear to the viewer what to look at first. 

Always aim to draw the viewer’s eye around the picture. To begin with, use the rule of thirds and the diagonal way to place a focal point. Placing the lightest area of the picture next to the darker will create contrast that will catch the viewer’s eye. A  main, large shape will command attention if it is integrated with the rest of the image by combining it with less dominant but similar shapes.

Directional lines, implied lines, and points within an image can be used to gently lead the viewer to the focal point.

Use a viewfinder or look through your fingers to establish your focal point.



By the end of this unit, you will be able to:

  1. Use the rule of thirds to compose an image that covers the entire page and contains a background.

  2. Use intersecting diagonals to compose an image that covers the entire page and contains a background.

  3. Use positive and negative space to compose an image that covers the entire page and contains a background.

  4. Look at a scene through your hands to help you compose your image that covers the entire page and contains a background.

  5. Compose, photograph, and draw a full page nature scene using a grid, that includes a background.


Watch my video above for tips on how to succeed in this challenge's assignments.



Playlist and Draw Alongs

Get out your pencil and paper and draw along with the videos in this playlist. Take a look at Different ways to hold your pencil.  It will prepare you for your prep drawings and your portfolio drawing for this challenge.


Landscape drawing using the rule of thirds


Reading: Composition In Drawing Art Techniques


Everything You Need to Know About Composition




Watch the slide show below for my tips and tricks on composition.




3.1 Message on Challenge 3

Communication Assignment: Message me that you are working on the Communication Assignment for Challenge 3. Let me know how the last challenge was in your experience, and if you have any questions or concerns about the upcoming challenge. Or just wish me a good day. 5 points


4 Prep Drawing Assignments

Hint: Go out and shoot a ton of photos first to loosen up and practice the following composition principles, then draw your best photo for each of the prep drawings.


Rule Of Thirds

Make a drawing using the rule of thirds to compose an image that covers the entire page and contains a background.

Intersecting Diagonals

Use intersecting diagonals to compose a drawing that covers the entire page and contains a background.

Strong Focal Point

Compose a drawing with a strong focal point that covers the entire page and contains a background.

Positive and Negative Space

Make a drawing that uses positive and negative space that covers the entire page and contains a background.

3.2 Submit Composition Drawings

Remember to sign and date each prep drawing and mark which assignment it is.


Portfolio Drawing Assignment


This will be your own image and your own composition! 

Start by shooting several photos of something you are interested in. Maybe you like animals, cars, sports, fashion, interiors, whatever. Think about where you can go to get some interesting shots, go there and shoot away. Use composition guidelines to frame your shots, then look through them and select the best one to draw. 

If you are unable to go and shoot your own photos, it's ok to draw from the photos of others, but you need to combine them and change your drawing so it is unrecognizable from the source drawings.



The above image is an example. The artist used one photo, made $400,000 in tee shirt sales, but was sued by the Associated Press, who owns the image. It's really best to use your own images if you possibly can.

Here are the steps involved in completing this assignment:

  • Shoot a bunch of photos of something you are interested in and would like to draw. I chose Half Moon Lake, one of my favorite lake views. I want to paint this image eventually, so I'm starting with a drawing.

  • Change your drawing to grayscale in your phone or print it out in black and white. Notice that I cropped the right side off of the photo to make a more interesting composition.

  • Draw a one inch grid on your photo. I did it in Photoshop, but a plain old ruler is one inch wide, so you could use that method.

  • Draw the same grid on your paper. Make your grid lines as light as you can. Use the grid lines to help you get your shapes and forms at the right size and in the right place. Really look at you photo as you draw. Draw until you start to tire of it, set it aside, and come back to it tomorrow. Then, look at the drawing with fresh eyes and see what you can do next to improve it.

  • You don't have to draw alone. Get your drawing ready, use the ruler to put in your grid, grab a pencil and paper and draw along with me.

3.3 Submit Your Portfolio Quality Composition


When you are done, sign and date your drawing, and submit both the drawing and the source images. Grade yourself according to the rubric. comment on how this assignment went for you, what you would do different if you drew this again, and give this challenge a rating from 1 to 10 (10 is high).      100 points


Reflection & Revision


3.4 Composition Critique

Upload your portfolio quality drawing in the 3.4 Composition Critique. Tell us the process you went through to get your final drawing. Look at the rubric and grade your work according to the criteria. Then, look at three other student's works, and make either a positive comment or suggest a change. There's no room for negativity in these critiques. Your purpose it to help other students and listen to the feedback they give you.

3.5 Submit Your Revised Portfolio Drawings

Take another look at your portfolio drawing before you finish this challenge and ask yourself what you can do to improve them. Listen to the feedback you got from me when you submitted your work, and the feedback you got from other students in the critique.