Archive for the ‘DESIGN THEORY’ Category


September 11, 2011



Dominant Horizontal: Restful, Peaceful, Calm, Little or No Movement

Dominant Vertical: Strength, Potential for Movement

Dominant Diagonal: Active, Strong Movement, Progressive

Line Quality: Smooth Curves = Calm; Angular Sharp Points = Aggression


Hue: This is another word for color

Warm Color Palette (Reds, Oranges and Yellows): Active, Joyous, Love, Passion, Anger, Agression, Hate

Cool Color Palette (Blues, Greens and Violets): Calm, Peaceful, Serene, Solitude, Lonely, Sorrowful, Grief, Isolated

Value: Tint or Shade of the Color

Tint (light versions of the color): Softer versions of the color’s emotional attribute

Shade (dark versions of the color): Stronger versions of the color’s emotional attribute

Saturation: Visual intensity or strength of the color.

Saturated Color: Present, Youthful, Visually Loud, Stronger versions of the color’s emotional attribute,

Desaturated Color: Aged, Memories, Past, Visually Quiet, Softer versions of the color’s emotional attribute


High Contrast: Active, Visually Loud, Strong, Forceful

Low Contrast: Calm, Visually Quiet, Serene


Hard: Power, Strength, Progressive, Visually Active

Soft: Calm, Mellow, Visually Peaceful

Extreme: Very Active, Visually Demanding


Organic: Nurturing, Lifegiving, Natural

Angular: Forceful, Mechanical, Aggressive, Technical


Open Format: Movement, Open, Free, Progressive

Closed Format: Confined, Regimented, Secure, Stability, etc



Symmetrical (Formal): Permanence, Strength, Stability

Asymmetrical (Informal): Active, Movement, Progressive

Radial: Movement, Motion, Can be contrived and unnatural

Allover Balance: No Movement, No Focus


Legato: Connecting, Slowing, Smooth, Calm, Relaxing, Nurturing

Staccato: Abrupt, Dynamic, Forceful

Progressive: Forward Moving, Anticipation, Predictable Movement,

Alternating: No Movement, No Focus, Can be contrived and unnatural


Representational: Predictable

Hieratic: Thematic or Symbolic Importance, Strength, Permanence

Scale Confusion: Unpredictable, Startling, Unsettling

Scale Contrast: Dramatic, Increase Visual Interest


Harmonious: Visual connection of elements and principles (intentional)

Not Harmonious: Visual disconnection of elements and principles (intentional)



September 3, 2011


The elements of design are the basic tools necessary to organize a visual image. Understanding these elements will aid in creating a more successful “visual communication” composition.

Most visual compositions or designs are created using the elements of design. These elements are the building blocks of all designs and build upon one another to convey an image. The basic elements of a design include line, shape, color, texture, value, and size.


A line is a mark with a greater length than width. Lines can be diagonal, horizontal or vertical, straight or curved, thick or thin. Lines can be used to create perspective and a sense of continuance in a composition and can aid in the readability, appearance, and message of a design. In addition, lines that are grouped together may create value, density or texture.


A shape is a defined area created by a closed line or by differences in color, value or texture. Alone or in combination with other shapes or lines they can guide the eye or organize information. Shape can be thought of as either two-dimensional or three-dimensional. Two-dimensional forms have width and height and can create the illusion of three dimension objects, Three-dimensional shape also has depth along with width and height. Shapes can be geometric, such as circles, triangles or squares, or they can be organic with asymmetrical or irregular outlines.


Color is the response of the eye to light reflecting off objects or surfaces. Color can be characterized by it’s hue, value, and saturation. When used in design, contrasting color draws attention to a particular part of an image or can be used to add dimension that can evoke moods and make powerful statements. Colors are categorized as primary, secondary, or tertiary colors.


The surface quality of a shape conveys texture in a design. There two types of texture: tactile and implied. Tactile texture is the way the surface of an object actually feels. Implied texture is the way the surface on an object looks like it feels. Texture is always a part of design whether or not it is intentional and can be soft or hard, smooth or rough.


Value, also referred to as tone, is present in all design. It is the lightness or darkness of an object, regardless of color. It gives objects depth and perception. Value is uses in a design to increase or decrease contrast, create movement, and to lead the eye.


Each design is created at a particular size, or mass. Additionally, each element of the design (line, shape, etc) has it’s own mass which is relative to the design as a whole. Different size elements are often used to accommodate information, convey a mood or provide emphasis, and to create contrast within a design.


September 3, 2011


The Principles of design can be thought of as what we do to the elements of design. How we apply the Principles of design determines how successful we are in creating a “visual communication” composition.


Space is the area provided for a particular purpose. It may have two dimensions (length and width), such as a floor, or it may have three dimensions (length, width, and height). Space includes the background, foreground and middle ground. Space refers to the distances or areas around, between or within components of a piece. There are two type of space: positive and negative space. Positive space refers to the space of a shape representing the subject matter. Negative space refers to the space around and between the subject matter.


Line is the basic element that refers to the continuous movement of a point along a surface, such as by a pencil or brush. The edges of shapes and forms also create lines. It is the basic component of a shape drawn on paper. Lines and curves are the basic building blocks of two dimensional shapes like a house’s plan. Every line has length, thickness, and direction. There are curve, horizontal, vertical, diagonal, zigzag, wavy, parallel, dash, and dotted lines.


Balance can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical. Balance also refers to a sense that dominant focal points don’t give a feeling of being pulled too much to any specific part of the artwork. Balance can be achieved by the location of objects, volume or sizes of objects, and by color. It can also be achieved by balancing lighter colors with darker colors, or bold colors with light neutral colors.


Color is seen either by the way light reflects off a surface, or in colored light sources. Red colors seem to come forward while blue seems to recede into the distance. Color and particularly contrasting color is also used to draw the attention to a particular part of the image. There are primary colors, secondary colors, and tertiary colors. Complementary colors are colors that are opposite to each other on the color wheel. Complementary colors are used to create contrast. Analogous colors are colors that are found side by side on the color wheel. These can be used to create color harmony. Monochromatic colors are tints and shades of one color. Warm colors are a group of colors that consist of reds, yellows, and oranges. Cool colors are group of colors that consist of purples, greens, and blues.


A shape is defined as an area that stands out from the space next to or around it due to a defined or implied boundary, or because of differences of value, color, or texture. Shapes can also show perspective by overlapping. They can be geometric or organic. Shapes in house decor and interior design can be used to add interest, style, theme to a design like a door. Shape in interior design depends on the function of the object like a kitchen cabinet door. Natural shapes forming patterns on wood or stone may help increase visual appeal in interior design. In a landscape, natural shapes, such as trees contrast with geometric such as houses.


Texture is perceived surface quality. In art, there are two types of texture: tactile and implied. Tactile texture (real texture) is the way the surface of an object actual feels. Examples of this include sandpaper, cotton balls, tree bark, puppy fur, etc. Implied texture is the way the surface on an object looks like it feels. The texture may look rough, fizzy, gritty, but cannot actually be felt. This type of texture is used by artist when drawing or painting.


Form is any three dimensional object. Form can be measured, from top to bottom (height), side to side (width), and from back to front (depth). Form is also defined by light and dark. There are two types of form, geometric (man-made) and natural (organic form). Form may be created by the combining of two or more shapes. It may be enhanced by tone, texture and color. It can be illustrated or constructed.


Value is an element of art that refers to the relationship between light and dark on a surface or object and also helps with Form. It gives objects depth and perception. Value is also referred to as tone.


September 3, 2011

QUICK STUDY: Principles of Design

Balance: Symmetrical, Asymmetrical, Radial, Allover

Rhythm: Legato, Staccato, Progressive, Alternating

Line: Dominant Horizontal, Dominant Vertical, Dominant Diagonal, Line Quality

Emphasis (Focal Point): Visual Hierarchy, Emphasis by Contrast, Emphasis by Isolation, Emphasis by Placement, Absence of a Focal Point

Scale / Proportion: Representational, Hieratic, Scale Confusion, Scale Contrast

Movement: Visual Flow

Visual Unity: Harmonious, Not Harmonious

Positive and Negative Space Relationship: Interdependent

Spatial Format: Illusion, Perspective, Depth of Field, Volume, Mass & Form


September 3, 2011

QUICK STUDY: Elements of Design

Line: Dominant Horizontal, Dominant Vertical, Dominant Diagonal, Line Quality

Texture: Hard, Soft, Extreme, etc.

Color: Hue, Value, Tint, Shade, Intensity, Saturation, Warm Color Palette, Cool Color Palette

Value: Value Contrast, High Contrast, Low Contrast, Etc.

Shape: Attributes of a Closed Form

Format: Sizes, Shapes, Media, Open Format, Closed Format