An Introduction to the
Elements and Principles of Art
and Design
• Feb ‘12
• Condensed version
Elements of Art and Design
• The visual tools or building blocks artists
use to create all art.
• The elements include line, shape, colour,
value, texture, space and form.
• Line: An element of art that is used to
define shape, contours and also to
suggest mass or volume. It may be a
continuous mark made on a surface with a
pointed tool or implied by the edges of
shapes and forms.
Variation of Line:
• Width- thick, thin, tapering, uneven
• Length - long, short, continuous, broken
• Direction- horizontal, vertical, diagonal, curving,
perpendicular, oblique, parallel, radial, zigzag
• Curvature – slight curves and sharp curves
• Colour
• Focus- sharp, blurry, fuzzy, choppy
• Feeling- sharp, jagged, graceful, smooth
Types of Line:
• Contour Lines- Lines that describe the
shape of an object and the interior detail.
Types of Line:
• Gesture Lines- Line that are energetic
and catches the movement and gestures
of an active figure.
Types of Line:
• Sketch Lines- Lines that captures the
appearance of an object or impression of a
Egon Schiele
Self Portrait
Types of Line:
• Implied Line- Lines that are not actually
drawn but created by a group of objects
seen from a distance. The direction an
object is pointing to, or the direction a
person is looking at.
The Anatomy Lecture of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp
"Calling of St. Matthew":
• A flat figure created when actual or implied
lines meet to surround a space.
• The two basic types of shape are organic shape
and geometric shape.
• Geometric Shapes - Circles, Squares,
rectangles and triangles. We see them in
architecture and manufactured items.
• Organic Shapes - Leaf, seashell or flower
shapes. We see them in nature and with
characteristics that are free flowing,
informal and irregular.
Value or Tone
• Value or tone refers to the relative
lightness or darkness of any media or
surface, whether it is in black and white or
in colour.
• In picture making, value has two important functions.
First, it can turn flat shapes into the illusion of forms
which appear solid. Second, it can create
impressions of mood or atmosphere. An overall dark
tone with little contrast can give a work a feeling of
gloom or melancholy.
• Any three-dimensional object.
• In painting, we talk about an artist creating
the illusion of form.
• The two basic types of form are organic form
and geometric form.
• All forms in nature can be simplified or reduced
to basic geometric forms.
• Mechanical-looking forms.
• Geometric forms include cones, cubes,
cylinders, pyramids and spheres.
• The way a surface feels (actual texture) or
how it may look (implied texture).
• Texture can be sensed by touch and sight and
be described with words such as smooth, rough,
soft and pebbly.
• The empty or open area between, around,
below or within objects.
• The three main types of space are deep space –
as in a distant landscape, shallow space – a
measurable distance as in a few millimeters to a
few meters, and flat space – all objects appear
to sit right on the surface of a work.
Colour has 3 basic attributes.
• Hue – the colour’s name. eg red, yellow
and blue
• Intensity – the brightness or dullness of
the colour. Straight out of the tube is full
intensity. Adding a colour’s complement
makes it dull.
• Value – the lightness or darkness of a
colour. Yellow is light in value and violet is
dark in value.
• Colour comes form light; if it weren’t for light we
would have no color. Light rays move in a
straight path from a light source. Within this light
rays are all the rays of colours in the spectrum
or rainbow. Shining a light into a prism will
create a rainbow of colours because it separates
the colour of the spectrum. When the light rays
hits an object our eyes responds to the light that
is bounced back and we see that colour. For
example a red ball reflects all the red light rays.
As artist we use pigments in the form of powder
or liquid paints to create colour.
• Color Wheels a tool used to organize color. It is made
up of:
• ·
Primary Colors-Red, Yellow, Blue these color
cannot be mixed, they must be bought in some form.
• ·
Secondary Color-Orange, Violet, Green, these
colors are created by mixing two primaries.
• ·
Intermediate Colors- Red Orange, Yellow Green,
Blue Violet, etc.; mixing a primary with a secondary
creates these colors.
• ·
Complementary Colors-are colors that are
opposite each other on the color wheel. When placed
next to each other they look bright and when mixed
together they neutralize each other.
Color Harmonies
• Color Harmonies or colour schemes is
when an artist uses certain combinations
of colors that create different looks or
• Warm colors are on one side of the color
wheel and they give the felling of warmth
for example red, orange and yellow are
the color of fire and feel warm.
• Cool colors are on the other side of the
color wheel and they give the feeling of
coolness for example blue, violet and blue

The Elements and Principles of Art and Design