Elements of Design:

Elements of Design
Line: Line is a mark made by a pointed tool – brush, pencil, stick, pen, etc. It has length
and width, but its width is very small compared to its length. Lines can be expressive.
 Contour lines outline the edges of forms or shapes and actually describe shapes
and forms in the simplest way.
 Gestural lines indicate action and physical movement. Our eyes follow the active
lines as they swirl across the page.
 Line can also be used to create values and textures.
Shape: an area that is contained within an implied line, or is seen and identified
because of color or value changes. Shapes have two dimensions, length and width, and
can be geometric or free-form (organic). Shapes are either positive or negative: the
subject in a representational or realistic work is usually the positive shape, and the
background is the negative shape.
Form: describes volume and mass or the three-dimensional aspects of objects that take
up space. Forms can and should be viewed from many angles.
Color: how color affects mood or emotion (the feel) of a work of art. Color depends on
light because it is made of light. There must be light for us to see color.
Texture: An element of art which refers to the surface quality or “feel” of an object, its
smoothness, roughness, softness, etc. Texture can be real or simulated so that the texture
is “felt” with the eye.
Space: Actual space is a three-dimensional volume that can be empty or filled with
objects. It has width, height, and depth. Space that appears three-dimensional in a twodimensional painting is an illusion that creates a feeling of actual depth. Space can also
be how the “space” of an area is divided by the artist in order to create a composition.
Value: Because value refers to dark and light, value contrasts help up to see and
understand a two-dimensional work of art. This type can be read because of the contrast
of dark letters and light paper. Value contrast is also evident in colors. Value changes
help us “feel” the shape of an object by showing us how light illuminates these forms and
creates shadows on them. The entire object may be the same color but varying amounts
of light give it different values.
Principles of Design
Movement: When there is no actual motion, this refers to an implied motion—the
arrangement of the parts of an image to create a sense of motion by using lines, shapes,
forms, and textures that cause the eye to move over the work.
Rhythm: The repetition of visual movement of the elements – colors, shapes, lines,
values, forms, spaces, textures. Variety is essential to keep rhythms exciting and active.
Movement and rhythm can work together.
Pattern: The repetition of anything—shapes, lines, colors—also called a motif, in a
design. An artist can use the same motif more than once in one or more directions.
Pattern can be planned or random. Patterns can also be found in nature. Pattern increases
visual excitement by enriching surface interest.
Contrast: Refers to differences in values, colors, textures, shapes, and other elements.
Contrast creates visual excitement and adds interest to the work.
Balance: Refers to the way the objects are arranged to create a feeling of stability in a
work. Balance can be symmetrical, asymmetrical, formal, informal and radial.
Emphasis: The stressing of an element or elements in a composition. It is also used to
create a focus in artwork. The stressing of one of the art elements, in a work of art, is
Unity: Visual unity is one of the most important aspects of well-designed art and is
planned by the artist. Unity provides the cohesive quality that makes an art work feel
complete and finished. When all the elements in a work look as though they belong
together, the artist has achieved unity.