3 Composition Tips for Photo and Video

When it comes to creating better visual content, it is not enough to master the software. It is also useful to learn about some composition fundamentals. In this short post, I will share with you some tips that will allow you to create better videos, video loops, photos, etc.

Dynamic Symmetry

When we hear the word symmetry, an image immediately comes to mind in which you equally distribute the elements around the center. This mirror, reflective or bilateral symmetry is very common, but it is not the only type of symmetry that exists. We like mirror symmetry because it transmits balance, but sometimes this symmetrical balance can generate boring and uninteresting visual content. Here is when the so-called dynamic symmetry and its asymmetric balance comes into play. This type of symmetry is not as evident as the mirror one, but it inexplicably fascinates us; it is a handy tool for creating better video footage and video loops.

To achieve this kind of symmetry, follow these steps:

  • Divide your canvas into two triangles by drawing a diagonal line (1)
  • Draw two new diagonal lines perpendicular to the main diagonal (2)
  • You can also flip the grid vertically (3) or overlap both (2 & 3).
  • Fit your objects inside the triangles and start getting better visual content (4).
 

Dynamic Symmetry Basics

This grid is also available inside the award-winning, open-source, and free 3D software Blender. You only need to select a camera object and go to Viewport Display > Composition Guides, select Golden Triangle A or Golden Triangle B, and start creating great compositions for your visual content. The VJ loops used in this video tutorial are part of the VJ Galaxy's Post-Apocalyptic VJ Loops Pack.

Composition Guides Inside Blender 3D

When you trace these diagonal lines, you are creating triangles that are proportional to each other, and everything inside these will be more harmonious. If you draw some new straight lines (green lines), you will get a three by three grid (yellow lines). Wait! The rule of thirds? Yes, this rule is related to the dynamic symmetry since the former is an approximation of the latter. It is a good guideline, but you have to take this rule with a grain of salt when working with other ratios other than 16:9. In a few words, it is not enough to divide the canvas into a three by three grid!

Color Harmony

All colors hide a meaning. For example, we usually link blue to tranquility, green to nature, red to passion, yellow to joy, white to purity, brown to dirt, etc. Our culture determines these colors-meaning connections we make. If you tried asking a western group about each person's favorite color in the group, you would see that the most voted color would be blue. However, if you did the same experiment in China, the winner would be the color red.

We can get better video loops if we take advantage of the colors' ability to communicate different things depending on how we combine them. For example:

  • Blue + Orange = Creativity
  • Brown + Green = Ecology
  • Yellow + Black = Danger
  • Red + Black = Aggressiveness
  • Blue + Dark Gray = Technology
  • Fuchsia + Black = Eroticism
  • Blue + White = Confidence

To get better visuals, you need to know the existing color harmonies. Try to internalize them and put them into practice when possible. The most important are the following:

Analogous Color Harmony

To achieve an analogous color harmony, we must choose colors that are next to each other on the color wheel.

    Analogous Color Harmony Example

      Complementary Color Harmony

      This color harmony is easy to remember since we only have to combine the desired color with its opposite on the color wheel.

        Complementary Color Harmony Example

        Triadic Color Harmony

        To achieve this harmony, we have to combine three colors that together form an equilateral triangle (triangle with three equal sides) on the color wheel.

          Triadic Color Harmony Example

          Split Complementary Color Harmony

          This color scheme is similar to the complementary one, but instead of using the opposite color, we use the adjacent colors to it. In this case, our three colors will form an isosceles triangle (triangles with two equal sides and one different side) on the color wheel.

          Split Complementary Color Harmony Example

          Design Tips

          Contrast

          Use contrast to highlight the most relevant elements in your composition. This property is not only related to the difference in luminance. You can achieve it by playing with other characteristics and properties:

          • Color: for example, when using a complementary color harmony
          • Size: for example, when an element stands out for its height
          • Movement: for example, when an object stands out for its action
           

          Contrast Pixabay Example

          Consistency

          When dealing with video footage and video loops, unless you have a specific intention in mind, it is always a good idea to keep consistency between the elements of the composition. In a few words, do not alter the color scheme, the font pairing, the graphic style, the animation style, or the concept halfway.

          Margins

          We always need to leave some space between our elements and the canvas margins; otherwise, our eyes will be focused on the peripheral objects and miss the central (important) stuff. It does not mean that the margins need to be empty, but you need to use them wisely; just for inspiration, the natural framing is a reference of how we can do it.

          Natural Framing Example from Pixabay