Elements of Design
• Line • Shape • Value • Texture/Pattern • Space
The path of a moving point that is made by a tool,
instrument, or medium, as it moves across an area.
A line is usually made visible because it contrasts
in value with its surroundings.
Line defines shape • Separates • Gives direction
• Edges of objects create lines
• Contour (edge) / Cross Contour (across)
often changing: thick to thin, dark to light
• Hatching / Cross Hatching (shading lines)
• Implied Line • Negative line
• thick • thin • dotted • curved • jagged • dark • pale
A swan’s neck, a flower stem, a piece of string,
tree branches, edges of buildings, chem-trails
—all guide the eye & create a sense of motion.
Lines can separate areas of a page, connect information, define or outline a shape.
Curved lines/edges are elegant, sensuous, calm;
Jagged lines/edges are scary & dangerous.
Shapes underlie every object, drawing, painting, architecture, or graphic design…Unusual shapes attract more attention than square ones.
• Actual shape: areas clearly defined
by edges or lines
• Implied shape: a shape suggested or
created by psychological connections of dots,
lines, areas, or their edges, creating the
visual appearance of a shape that does
not physically exist. Our brain creates shapes.
• Biomorphic shape: (organic): irregular shape
that resembles the freely developed curves
found in live organisms.
• Geometric shape: a shape that appears
related to geometry (circle, triangle, square)
The amount of light reflected by a surface
An area of Tone
• Local Value: natural value of a shape
regardless of lightsource
• Highlight: 10% brightest spot in the
lighted area of an object
• Shade: the absence of light
on a side or surface of an object
• Cast Shadow: a dark image/area caused by
an object blocking light. The dark area takes
the shape of the object (absence of light)
• Chromatic Value: the lightness or darkness
of a colour
• Achromatic Value: no colour —grayscale
lightness or darkness
• Decorative Value: a two-dimensional pattern
of light and dark
• Gradation: gradual change of value
from light to dark
Texture & Pattern
The surface character of a material, that can be experienced through touch —or the illusion of touch, through sight or sound.
Texture is produced by natural forces, such as:
the growth of cells, or erosion by weather, drying,
freezing, or the mixing of certain chemicals.
These forces act to raise or depress the surface
of any living membrane, material or object
creating shallow elevations and/or depressions
on their surface.
Pattern: in the form of repeated shapes
&/or lines provide an imagined sense of touching
a surface. This creates feelings of richness &
depth, especially as backgrounds.
Colours affect the emotions & physiology,
create moods, imagery; invite or repel
Colour Symbolism is based on physiology:
Red: blood, danger; ripeness (fruit),
Blue: calming, water; Violet: spiritual
Colour detirmines the foods we choose to eat
Out of Context Colour: catches attention
eg: Blue bananas, Blue area on a human face…
Colour Harmonies (The Colour Wheel )
• Analagous: 3 related colours side-by-side
• Complementary: opposite colours = 2 colours
180° accross the Colour Wheel
• Split Complementary: colours on both sides
of the opposite colour = 3 colours
• Triadic: 3 colours @ 60° angles
equal distance from each other on the wheel
Space is the container for other elements.
• Lots of space around an object, brings focus
to that object. Such as leaving spaces between
words…Leaving space around groupings of
objects, such as dining table + chairs
Eyes/eyebrows are separate from hairline
• Reduced space between objects creates
visual c o n n e c t i o n s between them,
such as “kerning” of space between letters.
• Crowding: Not enough space: Over-crowding
can create a feeling of discomfort.
• Space has *SHAPE* It forms “Negative Shape”
of the objects it contains.
Principles of Design ( Organization )
• Contrast • Proportion • Emphasis • Repetition
• Movement • Rhythm • Balance • Variety • Unity
Contrast: high contrast & low contrast
Contrast = difference of: • shape • value • texture
• colour • size & proportion • crowding/emptiness
• ideas • moral values
High Contrast: a great deal of difference • black/white
Low Contrast: a little difference • shades of grey
High contrast increases visual activity, excitement
& drama. Low contrast subdues the mood.
Use contrast to: • Compare • Emphasize something
• Subordinate something • Exaggerate something
Proportion ( Comparative Relation )
Appropriate or inappropriate size & measures of
elements compared to other elements.
Proportion gives the reader a sense of size of
an object to its environment & to other objects
or a part to the whole. Size of an object or space
compared to human size.
Measurements: height/width, size, area, degree
Ratios: 2/3 to 1/3 GoldenSection, Rule of Thirds
Contrast 2 elements –large & small– to express
an idea, such as a child compared to adult’s size.
Hierarchy of Vision: The largest element will
be seen first and will seem to advance in space.
Unusual or inapropriate proportions create focus.
What stands out the most gets noticed 1st*
• Hierarchy of Vision of pictures & text: large to small
• Focal Point: created by contrast, size, value,
texture, colour, location, space, Bold text, italic…
• Rule of Thirds: a device for creating a focal point
Repeated elements create Eyeflow & Rhythm.
Eyeflow: Our eyes recognize similarities
in elements & skip from one to the other
Pattern: repeated elements create Rhythm
Use of varied elements to hold the viewer’s attention.
How the viewer’s eyes are guided through a
composition by Design Principles. The objects in
the composition are not moving. It is the eyes of
the viewer that are moving: Eyeflow, Gaze pattern
Created by repeated elements which may be similar
in: form, size, value, colour, contrast or proportion
— or are somehow visually related
They make the eyes move from one to another.
Eyeflow: how the viewer’s eyes are guided
throughout the composition by design principles
Variety: To keep rhythm active, Variety is essential
Regular spacing (intervals) causes smooth rhythm
& relaxing mood —like Baroque music.
Abrupt changes in size (loudness) shape or
spacing (silence) makes a fast lively rhythm;
an exciting mood (Jazz, Heavy Metal)
Weight distribution of elements which creates
equilibrium in a composition.
• Formal Balance: symmetrical, centred, horiz/vert
equally weighted between 2 sides of a composition
—dignified, stately, rigid composition
• Informal Balance: asymmetrical, felt or imagined
balance through manipulating weights of
elements and directional axes or lines of sight.
Diagonal movements of elements, eyeflow or axis
create a modern, open & more musical feeling.
* People with low abstract thinking capabilities or
unstable lives, may be too challenged by diagonal
movements. The predictability of perfect horizontals
& verticals is more comforting to some.
Harmony & Unity
& Text Integration
• Harmony: all the elements are placed in a
logical way & work together in a satisfying way
• Unity: all the elements fit together in style
• Text Integration: visuals & text empower
each other in meaning & style
(eg: rounded text for round shape objects)
• Continuity of style helps Unity
Film/video: continuity of elements in scenes
props, hair, costumes, lighting, locations…
• Too much Contrast destroys harmony.