One of the most basic rules of composition is to avoid too much symmetry in your paintings. Placing your focal point in the middle of the scene, for example, divides the painting in half and results in a static, dull composition. Placing the center of interest slightly off center, however, creates a much more dynamic, pleasing composition. This leads the eye around the entire painting, rather than inviting it to focus solely on the center of the composition. Try working out asymmetrical designs on scrap paper with thumbnail sketches—small compositional studies—before committing to a design.
POOR DESIGNIn this thumbnail sketch, the elements are crowded into the center and are all on the same plane. The shapes are too symmetrical and uniform, and the eye is led out of the picture.
GOOD DESIGNHere the center of interest is placed farther to the left; the elements are staggered on different planes and are overlapped; and the curving path directs the eye into the scene.