Elements of Design

An element is one of those most basic visible things.  In art, it is an element if it is visible and there is nothing more simple or basic to define it.  It cannot be a combination of more than one thing and still be an element.  In practice, the elements are commonly seen in combination with each other.  For example, color and value are very different elements, but they always exist in combination with each other.

Lines

A line is a mark on a surface that describes a shape or outline. It can create texture and can be thick and thin.  Types of line can include actual, implied, vertical, horizontal, diagonal and contour lines.

Colors

Color refers to specific hues and has 3 properties, Chroma, Intensity and Value.  The color wheel is a way of showing the chromatic scale in a circle using all the colors made with the primary triad.  Complimentary pairs can produce dull and neutral color.  Black and white can be added to produce tints (add white), shades (add black) and tones (add gray).

Texture

Texture is about surface quality either tactile or visual. Texture can be real or implied by different uses of media. It is the degree of roughness or smoothness in objects.

Tactile texture

Tactile texture is the actual three-dimension feel of a surface that can be touched. Painter can use impasto to build peaks and create texture.

Visual Texture

Visual texture is the illusion of the surfaces peaks and valleys, like the tree pictured. Any texture shown in a photo is a visual texture, meaning the paper is smooth no matter how rough the image perceives it to be

Shape

A shape is a 2-dimensional line with no form or thickness. Shapes are flat and can be grouped into two categories, geometric and organic.

Geometric Shapes

Geometric Shapes are the shapes that can be drawn using a ruler or compass. Mechanical shapes, whether simple or complex, produce a feeling of control or order.

Organic Shapes

Organic Shapes are freehand drawn shapes that are complex and normally found in nature. Organic shapes produce a natural feel.

Form

Form is a three-dimensional object having volume and thickness. It is the illusion of a 3D effect that can be implied with the use of light and shading techniques. Form can be viewed from many angles.

Value

Value is the degree of light and dark in a design. It is the contrast between black and white and all the tones in between. Value can be used with color as well as black and white. Contrast is the extreme changes between values.

Space

In design, space is concerned with the area deep within the moment of designated design, the design will take place on. For a two-dimensional design space concerns creating the illusion of a third dimension on a flat surface.

Overlap is the effect where objects appear to be on top of each other. This illusion makes the top element look closer to the observer. There is no way to determine the depth of the space, only the order of closeness.

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