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Visual design elements and principles describe fundamental ideas about the practice of good visual design.
As William Lidwell stated in Universal Principles of Design:
The best designers sometimes disregard the principles of design. When they do so, however, there is usually some compensating merit attained at the cost of the violation. Unless you are certain of doing as well, it is best to abide by the principles.
Design elements are the basic units of a painting, drawing, design or other visual piece and include:
Author Maitland Graves in The Art of Color and Design, 1951, McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc. defines the elements of design as: Line, Direction, Shape, Size, Texture, Value and Color - in that order. "These elements are the materials from which all designs are built."
The three primary hues which cannot be created by mixing are red, yellow and blue. In practice, however, a more practical set of "double primaries" is utilized to allow for creating more intense saturation of colors. One author recommending this double primary system of color mixing is Michael Wilcox in his book: BLUE AND YELLOW DON'T MAKE GREEN.
Line is an element of art defined by a point moving in space. It is probably the most fundamental of the elements of design as it is usually the starting place for much of artistic creation. Lines can be vertical, horizontal, diagonal, or curved. They can be any width or texture. And can be continuous, implied, or broken.
A shape is defined as a two or more dimensional 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. All objects are composed of shapes and all other 'Elements of Design' are shapes in some way.
Meaning the way a surface feels or is perceived to feel. Texture can be added to attract or repel interest to an element, depending on the pleasantness of the texture.
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:
Form may be described as 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. It can be defined by the presence of shadows on surfaces or faces of an object. 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.
Principles applied to the elements of design that bring them together into one design. How one applies these principles determines how successful a design may be.
According to Alex White, author of The Elements of Graphic Design, to achieve visual unity is a main goal of graphic design. When all elements are in agreement, a design is considered unified. No individual part is viewed as more important than the whole design. A good balance between unity and variety must be established to avoid a chaotic or a lifeless design.
It is a state of equalized tension and equilibrium, which may not always be calm.
A good design contains elements that lead the reader through each element in order of its significance. The type and images should be expressed starting from most important to the least important.
Using the relative size of elements against each other can attract attention to a focal point. When elements are designed larger than life, scale is being used to show drama.
Dominance is created by contrasting size, positioning, color, style, or shape. The focal point should dominate the design with scale and contrast without sacrificing the unity of the whole.
Planning a consistent and similar design is an important aspect of a designer's work to make their focal point visible. Too much similarity is boring but without similarity important elements will not exist and an image without contrast is uneventful so the key is to find the balance between similarity and contrast.
There are several ways to develop a similar environment:
Movement is the path the viewer's eye takes through the artwork, often to focal areas. Such movement can be directed along lines edges, shape and color within the artwork, and more.
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