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Learning Advanced Art Techniques: Composition And Perspective

An Introduction To Advanced Art Techniques

Sometimes you may see an interesting effect in a painting and wonder how the artist achieved it. Did they have a fixed method or technique they followed? Art techniques are methods that make the drawing and painting process much easier. They are tried-and-tested ways of achieving a particular effect. Learning new art techniques allows you to explore various art styles and find what works best for you. You’ll understand how to make your art look better and be able to identify the mistakes you’ve been making.

The more you learn, the quicker you’ll be able to improve. Whether you’re striving for realism or stepping into the realm of the abstract, experimenting with these art techniques will improve your understanding of the principles of art. Let’s explore the advanced art techniques of perspective and composition.

Art Terms You Should Know

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1. Focal point: The part of your artwork that you want the viewer to focus on first. It’s the area that their eyes should naturally be drawn to. Poorly planned compositions will make the viewer feel confused, and your art will look cluttered instead of harmonious.

2. Horizon: It is a horizontal line that is at eye level. The horizon is the line where the earth meets the sky, and this concept is used to illustrate distance in two-dimensional art. 

3. Positive and negative space: The part of your artwork that contains the subjects or objects of interest is the positive space. There are no fixed rules regarding how much positive space you can have in your composition. Find a good balance by considering the theme of your artwork and whether your positive space conveys the same.

4. Negative space: The background and surrounding areas of the artwork make up negative space. It is the space around and between all the objects you’ve drawn. Some artists get away with having a lot of negative space in their paintings, whereas others like to keep it to a minimum.

Also read: 15 Genius Sketching Hacks You Wish You Knew!

Advanced Art Techniques: Understanding Composition

“Good composition is like a suspension bridge—each line adds strength and takes none away. No one is an artist unless he carries his picture in his head before painting it, and is sure of his method and composition.” – Robert Henri.

Composition in art is how different elements of an artwork are combined. It refers to balancing subjects and elements within the frame of the artwork. It creates a realistic sense of depth, space, and proportion. A pleasing composition will guide your eye to the subject or focus of the artwork. If you don’t arrange your elements properly, it will look chaotic, and the viewer misses out on important details since they don’t know where to look. A good painting is wasted on a weak composition.

Here are some art techniques you can use to improve your composition and make it stand out:

Fibonacci spiral or golden ratio

Art techniques
The Fibonacci sequence (image source:
Art techniques
The golden ratio as seen in The Great Wave Off Kanagawa (image source:

The Fibonacci spiral is a logarithmic spiral and a technique that blends mathematics with art. It is an iteration of the golden ratio. We observe the golden ratio in nature as well as in several art pieces. This geometric sequence is based on the ‘Fibonacci sequence’, a series of mathematical calculations by Leonardo Fibonacci. You can use this simple art technique to ensure that your composition is interesting. Place the spiral over your canvas and plan your composition so that the focal point of your art is at the end of the spiral. The rule of thirds is a simplification of this technique. You can use it to create pleasing and balanced compositions with strong aesthetic appeal.

Rule of thirds

Art techniques
Art techniques
The rule of thirds in composition (image source:

In this technique, divide the drawing surface into nine equal parts using a three-by-three grid. The focal points of your composition must appear along the intersecting points or lines in the centre. This technique is useful when planning the placement of figures and objects. Try to move objects around until you’re satisfied with the result. Don’t clutter; ensure that there is enough negative space in your composition.

Also read: Top 10 Ways To Improve Your Painting Skills

Advanced Art Techniques: Understanding Perspective

Art techniques
Perspective grid (image source:

“There are three aspects to perspective. The first has to do with how the size of objects seems to diminish according to distance; the second, is how colours change the farther away they are from the eye; the third defines how objects ought to be finished less carefully the farther away they are.” – Leonardo da Vinci.

Perspective in art refers to the depiction of a three-dimensional shape or form on a two-dimensional surface. Artists use perspective to depict realism or move away from it and into the surreal. You can use various art techniques to create the illusion of depth and movement. The most common is the use of ‘vanishing points’. The vanishing point in art is that part of the composition that is supposed to be the farthest from you. It is the point at which all the parallel lines of the piece converge.

Perspective lines are real or implied lines that stretch from objects to a vanishing point. You may initially have to draw a perspective grid, i.e. a map of all the lines of your composition converging towards the vanishing points. Once you master the following techniques, you will be able to draw objects in perspective without guidelines and create dimension in your art.

Perspective Art Techniques: Linear Perspective

Linear perspective is the use of lines to give the illusion of depth. You may have observed that objects look smaller the farther away they are. We can illustrate this in drawing and painting. The parallel lines of the composition converge into one or more vanishing points as they recede. Make the objects that you want to appear ‘closer’ to the viewer bigger in size. The objects away from the viewer are drawn smaller the closer they are to the vanishing point.

Art Techniques: One-Point Perspective

One-point perspective grid (image source (
Art drawn in one point perspective (image source:

In one point perspective, all the objects in your composition are drawn with respect to a single vanishing point on the horizon. To put it simply, this is how you normally view the world at eye level. This technique is a good introduction to perspective for beginners. It is a simple perspective, and you can easily practise it by yourself.

To begin practising one-point perspective, start with simple objects. Draw a square and add a vanishing point anywhere outside it. Now, turn this square into a cube, referencing your horizon and vanishing point. The next stage of this exercise is to draw multiple cubes following the guidelines. After you’ve gotten the hang of drawing geometric shapes in perspective, try your hand at organic shapes.

Art Techniques: Two-Point Perspective

Example of a drawing using two-point perspective (image source:
(image source:

Two vanishing points can be tricky, but once you master one-point perspective, you’ll begin to understand how this works. Everything in the composition recedes towards the vanishing points. While one point perspective is used when you are directly facing an object, two-point perspective is useful if you’re facing a corner between two objects. Two point perspective can be used to draw urban environments or depict a bird’s-eye view.

To practise two-point perspective, you can use the same process that we included for one point perspective. The only difference is that now you’ll include two vanishing points in your perspective grid. Practise geometric as well as organic shapes until you’re confident in your abilities, and then transition to actual landscapes, people, and environments.

Perspective Art Techniques: Atmospheric perspective

Painting by Kathleen Hudson that uses atmospheric perspective (image source:

You can also use colour and texture to show depth in your artwork! Using atmospheric perspective is easy once you understand colour theory. Objects that are farther away will appear faint, and their colours will look washed out or faded. They may also lean towards cooler tones such as green, blue, and purple. 

This is due to the way light is refracted in the atmosphere. Warm colours have shorter wavelengths and will fade away or appear cool-toned at a distance. Objects that are closer to you will be richer in colour and contrast, so make sure to use this in your art as well. Add more details to the focal point of your composition and fewer details as you move away from it.

Art Techniques And Artistic Freedom

Rajasthani Phad painting drawn in flat perspective (image source:
Comic drawn in one-point perspective (image source:

Learning art techniques does not mean that you have to adhere to them strictly. They aren’t rules, but simple guidelines to help you create the effects that you want in your artwork. For example, if you are working with stylized art forms like Phad, Gond, and Mata ni Pachedi, you do not have to use perspective techniques at all. You can practise them to add depth to your art or opt for the two-dimensional flat perspective that is seen in most traditional Indian art forms. You will need to brush up on colour theory and composition, though, as traditional art forms demonstrate mastery of both. Regardless of your art style or medium, experimenting with different art techniques will help you improve and enhance your creativity.

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By Melissa D’Mello

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