To learn the building blocks of good design.  

Be sure you know what all of the teal terms mean. Not only are they important in good design, they will most likely be on the midterm and or final. They are also the terms I want you to use in our critiques.


Elements of design are the basic visual material we use to make art.

LINE--A line is a mark that has a beginning and an end. Lines can be made with almost anything: pencils, computer, crayons, and chalk obviously make lines, but string can also make a line. Edges of objects are lines as well. Lines can be straight, curvy, bumpy, jagged, or wavy. They are very important to a designer. Lines can tell us what the designer is trying to communicate through his or her art. We can show moods and feelings, such as anger, laziness, confusion, or happiness, by drawing different kinds of lines. These are called "character lines." Lines can be used to show motion by guiding and moving our eyes around a design. Horizontal lines guide our eyes across the paper. They create a calm and restful mood in a design. Vertical lines move our eyes up and down the paper. They make us think of buildings and trees. Diagonal lines move our eyes from one corner of an object or design to the opposite comer. They are exciting lines and show strong feelings. In graphic design lines can also be used to separate different portions of the composition.

SHAPE--When both ends of a line meet to surround space, the line forms a shape. Shapes can be familiar, such as squares, triangles, or circles. They can be made from curvy or straight lines. Shapes can also have bumpy or pointed edges as well. They can be things we do not recognize or they can be things we do recognize. Point, line, and shape are related. A line goes between two points, and line become shapes that become designs. In graphic design text boxes can also be considered shapes.

VALUE--We use the term "value" to refer to how much light and dark is in a design. Value is very important because it makes some parts of a composition more dominant than others. Pure white is the lightest value, and black is the darkest value. All values in between are grays. Texture and shading are ways of making shapes have value. The more texture or shading a shape has, the darker in value it becomes. For instance, imagine words as texture on a piece of white paper. If the paper has one sentence typed on it, it has a very light value. But the same paper with many sentences typed on it has a much darker value. Color also has value. A design with a lot of light colors and very few darks is considered a light-valued picture. A design with a lot of dark colors and very little light is considered a dark-valued picture. Most good art is made up of a combination of lights and darks.

FORM--A form is a shape that has three dimensions: height, width, and depth. A flat shape has only two dimensions: height and width. Form represents the difference between drawing a square on paper and drawing a cube. A form always has bulk or mass. Some basic forms are the sphere, cube, cone, cylinder, and pyramid. Shapes from nature or man-made objects are variations of these forms. For instance, a pine tree is a cone, and a building is a cube. More complex subjects are combinations of these basic forms, such as the human body. It is made of various cylinders and a sphere.

TEXTURE--Texture refers to how the surface of something looks and feels. For example, the surface of a brick is hard and rough. A snake's skin is scaly and dry. a designer can represent texture through points, lines, and shapes: points can show the scratchy surface of sandpaper; long, flowing lines can show hair; and small circular shapes can show the dimples on a golf ball. The shapes forming a texture can create a pattern, such as a brick wall or a shingled roof.

SIZE and SCALE--Size refers to how big or how small something appears. Size in a composition is decided by comparing one object to other objects. For example, in a design with two boxes next to one another, it is easy to see which is larger. In a drawing with one box, it is hard to tell much about its size. A designer can use size to show distance on a flat canvas. A box that is drawn smaller on one piece of paper will appear farther away than one that is drawn larger on another piece of paper.


POSITIVE and NEGATIVE SPACE--The positive space of a picture is the picture's subject, or what the designer wants us to look at. This space is called the "foreground". For instance, in a picture of an apple surrounded by black, the apple is the foreground. The black background is what we call the "negative space" in the picture. Negative space is as important as positive space because it surrounds and sets off the positive space. a designer needs to consider both in balancing a design. Without negative space, the positive space loses its power to attract the eye. Even a single point on a blank piece of paper creates positive and negative space and commands our attention.






HUE, TINT, SHADE, SATURATION--In order to study and understand color, we need a special vocabulary. A "hue" is a pure or true color. Red, blue-green, and violet are hues, as are all of the colors we see in the rainbow. All the colors on a twelve-part color wheel are hues. Colors have values of light and dark. A "tint" is a light value of a hue, and a "shade" is a dark value of a hue. A tint is a hue with white added to lighten it. Pink is a tint of the hue red. Light green is a tint of green, and a peach color is a tint of red-orange. A shade is a hue with black added to darken it. Navy blue is a shade of blue. Maroon is a shade of red, and khaki is a shade of yellow-green. The brown colors are shades of yellow, yellow-orange, or orange. Saturation intensifies or dilutes a hue. If you desaturate a color photo it will become a grayscale photo.

COMPLEMENTARY--The color wheel is set up in a special way so that we can see how colors are related. "Complements" are two colors that are opposite each other on a color wheel. As you look at the color wheel you'll see that red and green are complements. Violet and yellow are also complements, as are red-orange and blue-green. Complements relate two colors on a color wheel.


PRIMARY COLORS --red, blue, and yellow-form a triad. "Primaries" are basic colors that cannot be achieved by mixing other colors. Another triad is the secondary colors-orange, violet, and green.




SECONDARY COLORS -- each one is made by mixing two of the primaries. For instance, red and yellow mixed together make orange; red and blue make violet; and yellow and blue make green.




MONOCHROMATIC--Monochrome color schemes have only one color, while analogous color runs have at least three colors. "Monochrome" is from two Greek words, mono meaning "one" and chromo meaning, "color." A monochrome scheme includes the hue and all of its shades and tints. For instance, a maroon, red, light red and pink composition is a monochrome scheme. Any monochrome color scheme may also have black and white in it.


ACHROMATIC--Another type of color scheme is an "achromatic" scheme, which includes only, black, white, or grays. In Greek, a means "none" and chromo means "color," so achromatic means, "no-color." A lead pencil drawing is achromatic, as are charcoal drawings and black and white photographs.



WARM and COOL COLORS--Colors are generally divided into warm colors and cool colors. The warmer colors are the sun colors-yellow, orange, and red. The cooler colors are the sea and sky colors-blue, green and violet. Black, which absorbs all color, seems to be warm. White, which reflects all colors, seems to be cool. Warm and cool colors influence how we dress. In the hot summer, we wear cool, light-colored clothes, and in the winter we wear warm, dark-colored clothes. Colors can also influence our emotions. Warm colors make us feel enthusiastic and energetic. Cool colors make us feel calm and peaceful. Some cool colors can seem warmer than other cool colors. For instance, violet and green are both cool colors, but violet has more warmth than green. Likewise, some warm colors are cooler than others. Yellow-orange seems cooler than bright red. Complements are contrasts of warm and cool colors. In complementary color pairs, such as red and green, one of the colors is always warm and one is always cool. Complements intensify and enhance each other when they are together. Red makes green seem greener and cooler, while green makes red seem hotter and brighter.





The principles of design are the ways we work with and arrange the elements.

Leading Lines -- Real or implied line that leads to the center of interrest.


Rule of Thirds -- One of the most popular 'rules' in photography is the Rule Of Thirds. It is also popular amongst artists.

It works like this:

Imaginary lines are drawn dividing the image into thirds both horizontally and vertically. You place important elements of your composition where these lines intersect


FRAMING--One of the techniques used to bring the viewers eye to the center of interest, also known as the focal point. Compose your subject with a frame around it. A photographic frame is something that acts as a border or frame for your subject. The frame directs the viewer’s attention to a particular subject or point of interest within the photograph. Frames also create perspective and show depth.


REPETITION and RHYTHM --Repetition and rhythm are the repeating of parts within a design, such as shapes, colors, or lines. Repetition involves using similar things over and over again, while rhythm refers to using them in an order or pattern. Repetition and rhythm are just as important to art as they are to music. The rhythm is the beat, and the repetition is the chorus sung again and again. In music, our ears pick out the rhythm. In art, our eyes pick out the pattern in a drawing and follow it.





CONTRAST--In order for a design to be interesting, it must have contrast and variety. Contrast refers to having different things in the same design.



DOMINANCE/CENTER OF INTEREST--Refers to making one part of a design or picture more important than the rest. All other details are less important than the dominant part, but they also add to the composition. A designer can make something stand out by its size, color, texture, shape, position, or any combination of these. For instance, in a drawing of black shapes that are the same size, a smaller red shape would be dominant. Or a single triangle can be dominant over a group of triangles if it is away from the group. designers often, but not always, make the center of a picture the dominant area. The focal point, the place where the eye keeps returning, usually is in the dominant area. All design should have some kind of center of interest.


BALANCE--Balance in a drawing keeps one part of a picture from becoming heavier than another. Balance in art is like a teeter-totter. If there is one child on each end of the teeter-totter and they are both the same weight, the board will balance. But if one child weighs more than the other, the heavier child will have to move closer to the center of the board to make it balance. Similarly, everything in a picture has weight, visual weight, even the empty space. A line weighs less than a shape. A shape that is filled in with a color or texture weighs more than a shape outline. A form that is three-dimensional weighs more than all of these. Balance in a drawing can be achieved from side to side or from top to bottom.

Pictures can be balanced or unbalanced. Neither is right or wrong.


BALANCED - We will talk about two types (there are others):

SYMMETRICAL BALANCE--Similar visual weight on each side of the photo. The elements are almost identical. Almost a mirror image




ASYMETRICAL BALANCE--Similar visual weight on each side, but the elements are different



UNBALANCED - More visual weight on one side





UNITY/HARMONY--Every work of art needs a unifying force. Unity, also known as harmony, pulls together all the elements of design into one pleasing composition. Each part of a design has to relate to other parts of the design. A single theme or idea may unify a design. Another unifying factor is repetition, such as a color that is repeated, a series of lines similarly curved, or a large triangle dominating several smaller triangles. Also, similar textures or materials used to create a design can be unifying. For instance, in a fabric collage, the unifying factor is that all parts of the design are made of fabric. Finally, a related border drawn around a design, or a frame, can be a unifying factor. When nothing distracts from the whole, you have unity.








This info will be on a test.