And we are back on tracks for the part 2 of our Fundamentals of composition!

In our first part (article here), we've been through: 

1 - Unity & Harmony: Proximity, Similarity, Continuation, Repetition

2 - Balance: Symmetry, Asymmetry

3 - Hierarchy & Path: Visual and Intellectual journey

4 - Scales & Proportions (+ Golden Rule)


And this week we'll define the following: 

5 - Dominance & Emphasis

6 - Order + Unity + Movement + Harmony = The rhythm

7 - Unity & Variety: Contrast

8 - Background & Shape: In & Out / Full & Empty


So let's get started!


5. Dominance and Emphasis

Highlight: Breaking the visual hierarchy using form to emphasise

Colour: To distinguish between elements in a series of similar forms

Size: Elements of different sizes focus viewer attention accordingly


6. Order + Unity + Movement + Harmony = The rhythm

We can perceive the rhythm simultaneously in three different senses. First hear it, second see it and thirdly feel it in our muscles”,
Paul Klee.

Rhythm plays a living link between all parts of the composition. It is at once a principle of order, diversity and unity or harmony.

The rhythm is inevitable: It makes it possible to subdivide time and space.

It works on time or landmarks perceived consciously or not according as they will be more or less emphasised. The rhythm facilitates the reading: it organises the meeting with the composition. It defines and qualifies a temporality.

The rhythmic effect can be ensured by the distribution of light and dark spots as well as by colour, formal elements, or effects of matter. 


The rhythm is all the more attractive as it offers possible developments and gives a sense of infinity to the composition.


The cold is therefore a major principle.

A grid can be considered as a rhythmic frame: a frame that is chosen to mark with more or less insistence according to the final perception sought.    


7. Unity and Variety: Contrast

Contrast is a principle of deviation which can go as far as contraries; it can both unite and separate. When the deviations are fully balanced and mastered, you can speak of unity and coherence as a contrasting couple. Two opposing plastic elements can offer unity by their complementarity. This is the case of couples such as black and white, red and green, the circle and the square ...


Contrasts make it possible to emphasise the identity of each actor, to reveal, to order, to amplify the visual impact, to hold the attention, to make the composition expressive.


The concept of contrast applies as much to the shape (geometry, scale), directions (horizontal, vertical, oblique), colours (hot and cold, light and dark etc.), textures (rough or smooth, matte or glossy, etc.).

8. Background and Shape: In and Out / Full and Empty

The white background often acts as an empty space from which the image emerges - this empty space being "presented for perception but not for composition" (Norman Bryson).

The background can be perceived as a concrete surface of silence, an indeterminate in which form can appear. It offers the possibility of the presence of things. Form is definitely defined only by its opposition to the bottom. This opposition between form and background is at the basis of the "Gestalt Theory”.

The greater the contrast between the background and the form, the more distinctive and mutually reinforcing these elements are. In a composition, the "empty" or almost "empty" parts are as important as the solid parts where patterns abound. The white background often provides the vital space around the form; an area of rest, meditation as in a musical page, the abstract space of all possible.


Thank you for reading!

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