Elements of Art and Principles of Design

Principles of Design

Emphasis/Focal Point – is an area that attracts immediate attention in the composition.

Balance – can be even, or symmetrical, asymmetrical (uneven), or radial (spiral).

Unity/Harmony – combination of similar elements that give a sense of completeness or function to a composition.

Contrast – is the juxtaposition of opposing elements (such as colors), value (lights/darks), or direction (horizontals/verticals).  The major contrast in a work of art is usually located at the center of interest, your focal point. Too much contrast can destroy unity.

Movement – is a sense of flow or the suggestion of motion.  Directional movement can be created through implied lines or changes in the elements of design (value, color, proportion).

Pattern/Rhythm – is the use of repetition.

Variety – provides contrast to harmony and unity but too much variety introduces chaos.

Proportion/Scale – Proportion is the size relationship of parts to a whole and to one another.  Scale refers to relating size to a constant, such as the hand with the face. Intimacy is created by a small scale while attention is demanded with a large scale.


Elements of Art

Line –  a mark on a surface that can include actual, implied, vertical, horizontal, diagonal and contour lines.

Shape – is a flat, 2-dimensional line creating something either geometric and organic.

Form – has volume and thickness and can be viewed from different angles.  They can be real (sculpture) or implied (drawing).

Value – range of light and dark in a design and refers to lightness or darkness only, not color.

Texture –  is how something feels when you touch it or how an object appears to feel (implied).

Space – area around, above or below an object.  Space can be positive or negative.  Positive space is usually the object and negative space is the area devoid of object.  Negative or empty space is just as important as positive space.

Color – is the reflected light that we are able to see with our eyes.

In-class Presentations:

line and space


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