Effective Composition in Concept Art Environments | MAGES Institute

Effective Composition in Concept Art Environments

Understand captivating Entertainment Design with our blog series. Part 1 delves into Effective Composition in Concept Art Environments, revealing principles like focal points, framing, and pitfalls to avoid.

A well composed environment concept art piece is one that is instantly readable, visually appealing, and evokes the right mood. Some of the many aspects that environment concept artists need to consider before creating an image are lines, shapes, spacing, size, and what kind of contrasts are at play.

Understanding the Principles of Composition

A key aspect of composition is that it involves understanding and decision- making more than just drawing or painting skills. To make sure we are focusing on the principles of composition rather than just how to make pretty pictures, we are going to begin discussing this with some basic visual examples.


Despite employing different scales and lenses, the various arrangements presented below using the same elements all share clear and readable compositions. This is achieved through a combination of factors: interesting positive and negative space design, balanced framing using techniques like the golden ratio and rule of thirds, a clear hierarchy with defined focal points, and strategic placement of elements that avoid awkward cropping or anything too close to the edge of the frame. In this case, by clearly conveying the intended focal point, the composition creates a sense of visual coherence, enabling the viewer to understand what it is they need to be looking at instantly.

Credit: Craig Mullins
Credit: Craig Mullins



In any composition, focal points serve as magnets, drawing the viewer’s gaze to specific areas and guiding their visual journey. By having a clear understanding of where to place the key elements within these focal points, artists can effectively and clearly communicate their intended message. Here is an example showcasing this principle in action.

Credit: Creativeshrimp
Credit: Creativeshrimp



As demonstrated in the examples below, defining the composition with deliberate cropping or framing can achieve two key goals: focusing attention on specific subjects and creating the illusion of depth. By guiding the viewer’s eye through different spatial planes (aka depth), this approach enhances the sense of believability of the space and visual engagement of the scene.

Credit: 3dtotal (left) and lesdeuxpiedsdehors.com (right)



Understanding what makes a composition “weak” can be just as valuable as learning what makes it strong. Let’s take a closer look at the example provided below, elements are spread too evenly, creating no natural flow for the eye. Additionally, the shapes lack balance, causing visual instability. Furthermore, multiple focal points compete for attention, while some are positioned near the edges, drawing the eye out of the frame. This can result in a visually chaotic and difficult-to-understand composition.

Credit: Creativeshrimp



One of the most common problems found in a lot of weak compositions is that they are overloaded with detail. When analyzing an image, consider where your eye naturally focuses.
A balance of details will guide your attention towards one or two clear focal points, while a weak one will pull your gaze in various directions without a clear order.

Credit: Creativeshrimp (left) and Adobe stock (right)


A tangent occurs when elements in a composition unintentionally appear connected, even if they aren’t meant to be. This can confuse viewers, making it unclear what they should be focusing on. Additionally, tangents can flatten the perceived depth of the artwork, and may even create a visually disruptive effect. By understanding and avoiding tangents, artists can create clearer, more readable, and visually pleasing compositions.


Great compositions in environment concept art means taking the effort and time to acquire a foundation in essential techniques, while simultaneously cultivating the creativity and experimentation needed to apply them in innovative ways.

This article equips you with the concepts and strategies necessary to elevate your environment concept art, crafting visuals that are not only captivating but also effectively communicate your ideas. If you’d like to dive deeper into how to achieve strong composition in concept art environments, be sure to check out part two!

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