Composition Formulas

Being creative can be a challenge. Thankfully, if you’re struggling with a weak imagination, there are ways to create beautiful artworks through formulaic processes.

Rule of Thirds

One of the most basic, yet important rules in photography and artistic composition is the Rule of Thirds. The idea behind the Rule of Thirds is that your image can be divided into 9 equal sections. Within each section and at the intersections of the grid lines, the composition can make use of subject space and blank space to create a harmonious picture.

If you take a look at my Film Posters, almost all of them show signs of strict adherence to the Rule of Thirds principle. The reason for this is because I actually create my gridlines according to this rule when I start each project.

Human Subjects and Perspectives

Perform a cursory web search on movie posters. Your results may likely surprise you. In a vast majority of posters you find, there will almost always be a human element as the primary subject. That is often the result of the fact that there is a major star acting in said film.

If you look at many of my compositions, there will be some human subject or subjects involved. Not only are they involved, but they take a large portion of the canvas. Whether it’s a single large face or a collection of people, one of the easiest formulas to follow is to include a human subject. Build the setting around the people whether or not it makes sense, and the end result will look fantastic.

A large part of the human composition is using perspective. Again, in a cursory search, see how many posters use some form of perspective imagery. There is almost always a sense of depth within the photo.

Pair these two elements together with any arbitrary combination and you’ll get a working film poster. See Ephemeris and Seven Teens for the best examples.

Although those seem like original, unique pieces, they both follow the formula of using human subjects and perspective imagery. If you separate all the individual elements, they don’t seem to make much sense, but when composited, it’s hard to imagine them in any other way.


If you’re having issues with creativity and want to make an awesome project, just adhere to the two formulas I wrote about above. Use the Rule of Thirds as your canvas guidelines and then use both human subjects and perspective imagery to create an awesome composite.