What is the Rule of Thirds?

The rule of thirds is a rule used by artists and photographers in relation to composition.  How does it work?  Divide your paper into thirds as shown and place your subject in the area of the one of the circles indicated below:

rule of thirds
The Rule of Thirds

Why is it important?

The rule of thirds creates more interest rather that placing a subject slap bang in the middle of the page.  Placing a subject off centre brings the eye into a piece of art and prevents the composition being split in half and looking too uniform.

The eye tends to want to roam within a piece of artwork and placing a subject right in the middle doesn’t encourage the observer’s eye to journey across the piece and take in the whole picture.  Placing a subject in the middle of a piece tends to look static and boring.

Below is a good example of the rule of thirds.  The famous artist Degas has placed his dancers off centre and our eye is drawn into the artwork, adding depth and interest.

Degas rule of thirds
Degas ‘Dancers Practicing at the Bar’ – this composition demonstrates the rule of thirds

Try this rule out in your own artwork and it should make for more interesting compositions.

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