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Tutor
ial by Jeff Walker 

Rule of Thirds
Rule of Thirds

Although there are many more exciting steps to making your masterpiece, few can make or break a piece like the composition step. Starting out with a blank sheet of paper can often be a daunting task for the indecisive artist, which is why they always say compose your piece first and one of the main rules for composition is called the "rule of thirds". This rule is present in many forms of artwork, from photography to literary works every artist works in this phase first and drawing art is certainly no different when it comes to this rule.

To begin the tutorial, I personally have started to use my WACOM tablet. Thankfully this step can still be preserved on a more solid medium like paper, canvass, or other forms. We will cover all possible forms of medium here, but keep in mind that defining your rule of thirds may not be physically possible when you are working with a solid medium. My supplies in this case are a simply WACOM tablet which costs anywhere from $60-$300 USD. If you will be drawing this out, you will need a simple sheet of paper and a pencil of your choice. Many people prefer mechanical pencils over others; the fact is there are a wide array of pencils to use. There's a normal number 2, mechanical, graphite, and others. Choose your medium to suit your needs.

This is the Rule
This is the Rule

Now that we have formalities out of the way, we come to the actual discussion. With composition and the rule of thirds you have to keep in mind that every area can be cut into three parts both horizontally and vertically. Since it can be cut, either on your paper or in your head mark off your area with two lines seperating the area equally among the three areas. Do this for both horizontally and vertically and you should get something that looks a lot like a tic tac toe board. Congratulations, you've just drawn or imagined your rule of thirds. Aren't you proud?

Many of you may be wondering why we go through this very small step. Well, let's take a look at an example of a picture that many people will often draw or take. These are pictures that place the subject almost smack dab in the middle. Although there is little wrong with doing this, the biggest problem is the fact that it lets the eye wander around the image, taking your eye from the focus which is, after all, the figure itself. Take a look and see if your eye stays just in the middle, not looking elsewhere. See if it really interests you at all. For many, if not all, this picture violates the rule of thirds as it only takes up one whole frame.


Boring, innit?
Boring, innit?

When you have drawn your rule of thirds, you will then decide where your figure should be placed. Always keep in mind that you are aiming for filling at least three frames(or squares) with your figure. The other 6 I usually fill with hair or with action of some sort. The aim for the rule of thirds it to put focus on what is most important for your medium. If your medium is photography, it's so the focus is kept on your subject. If your medium is art, it is to make sure that your figrue is always the main point of focus. If you follow the rule of thirds and fill as much of the frame as possible with your figure then you are sure to have an interesting, character-centric piece.

So, when you're starting your image and can't figure out where to start next time, go ahead and imagine your rule of thirds and start trying to fill in boxes with the body of your figure. If you're not stuck but find yourself uninterested in the figure you have draw, try increasing it's size and making more action. If you follow the rule of thirds and try to fill up as much of the area with a figure then you're sure to be off to a good start for an artwork that will please you.


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