3. Irregular Division

In this stage, we return to simple straight lines, without curves – practising opposition. But this time, we’re doing away with symmetry whilst still trying to create a feeling of completeness and balance.

Cut the space with irregular divisions, no more than three or four vertical and three or four horizontal lines. Fewer is often better.

It can help to think of these designs as frameworks upon which real world drawings could be based – landscapes with trees and a horizon perhaps.

Try adding verticals more to the left side, or more to the right. Do the designs feel different?


Group lines together in clusters, and see what you need to do to balance them. After adding the first line, allow the design to grow organically, carefully considering the placement of each line.


Do this stage in both square and circular formats.

Here’s an example of irregular division in a circle. for this one, I’ve used a piece of card cut out using a circle cutter – it’s a very quick way to get a nice regular circle.

Notice that the design isn’t rushed. Each line is considered carefully. It’s very easy to rush through this exercise, but by carefully considering how you cut the space, striving for a satisfying result, you’ll develop your feeling for composition much more.

It may help to look at this exercise as a kind of meditation. Take a few calming breaths before you start. Try to forget about any specific goals beyond making a balanced composition of the drawing that you’re working with at that particular moment. Try to let all other considerations melt away. If your mind starts to wander as you draw, just bring it gently back to your drawing. Try, as much as you can, to feel the relationships between the lines and the balance of the whole.

Once you have created some initial themes, follow the stages in the Simple Symmetrical Themes section: Create variations, and then trace the best in ink.

Have any questions about this stage? Pop over to the forum and start a new topic on theĀ Composition in Squares and Circles board.