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Visual design elements and principles describe fundamental ideas about the practice of visual 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 any visual design which form its structure and convey visual messages. Painter and design theorist Maitland E. Graves (1902-1978), who attempted to gestate the fundamental principles of aesthetic order in visual design, in his book, The Art of Color and Design (1941), defined the elements of design as line, direction, shape, size, texture, value, and color, concluding that "these elements are the materials from which all designs are built."
Color is the result of light reflecting back from an object to our eyes. The color that our eyes perceive is determined by the pigment of the object itself.Color theory and the color wheel are often referred to when studying colour combinations in visual design. Color is often deemed to be an important element of design as it is a universal language which presents the countless possibilities of visual communication. Some colors can often seek lots of attention if they stand out more than other products.
Color theory studies colour mixing and colour combinations. It is one of the first things that marked a progressive design approach. In visual design, designers refer to color theory as a body of practical guidance to achieving certain visual impacts with specific colour combinations. Theoretical color knowledge is implemented in designs in order to achieve a successful color design.
Color harmony, often referred to as a "measure of aesthetics", studies which colour combinations are harmonious and pleasing to the eye, and which colour combinations are not. Color harmony is a main concern for designers given that colors always exist in the presence of other colors in form or space.
When a designer harmonizes colours, the relationships among a set of colours are enhanced to increase the way they compliment one another. Colors are harmonized to achieve a balanced, unified, and aesthetically pleasing effect for the viewer.
Color harmony is achieved in a variety of ways, some of which consist of combining a set of colors that share the same hue, or a set of colors that share the same values for two of the three color characteristics (hue, saturation, brightness). Colour harmony can also be achieved by simply combining colors that are considered compatible to one another as represented in the color wheel.
Color contrasts are studied with a pair of colours, as opposed to color harmony, which studies a set of colours. In color contrasting, two colors with perceivable differences in aspects such as luminance, or saturation, are placed side by side to create contrast.
Johannes Itten presented seven kinds of color contrasts: contrast of light and dark, contrast of hue, contrast of temperature, contrast of saturation, simultaneous contrast, contrast of sizes, and contrast of complementary. These seven kinds of color contrasts have inspired past works involving color schemes in design.
Color schemes are defined as the set of colors chosen for a design. They are often made up of two or more colors that look appealing beside one another, and that create an aesthetic feeling when used together. Color schemes depend on color harmony as they point to which colors look pleasing beside beside one another.
A satisfactory design product is often accompanied by a successful color scheme. Over time, color design tools with the function of generating color schemes were developed to facilitate color harmonizing for designers.
Line is an element of art defined by a point moving in space. Lines can be vertical, horizontal, diagonal or curved. They can be any width or texture and can be continuous, implied, or broken. On top of that, there are different types of line, aside from the ones previously mentioned. For example, you could have a line that is horizontal and zigzagged or a line that is vertical and zigzagged. Different lines create different moods, it all depends on what mood you are using a line to create.
A point is basically the beginning of "something" in "nothing". It forces the mind to think upon its position and gives something to build upon in both imagination and space. Some abstract points in a group can provoke human imagination to link it with familiar shapes or forms
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. Shapes are recognizable objects and forms and are usually composed of other elements of design.
For example, a square that is drawn on a piece of paper is considered a shape. It is created with a series of lines which serve as a boundary that shapes the square and separates it from the space around it that is not part of the square.
Geometric shapes or mechanical shapes are shapes that can be drawn using a ruler or compass, such as squares, circles, triangles, ellipses, parallelograms, stars, and so on. Mechanical shapes, whether simple or complex, produce a feeling of control and order.
Organic shapes are irregular shapes that are often complex and resemble shapes that are found in nature. Organic shapes can be drawn by hand, which is why they are sometimes subjective and only exist in the imagination of the artist.
Curvilinear shapes are composed of curved lines and smooth edges. They give off a more natural feeling to the shape. In contrast, rectilinear shapes are composed of sharp edges and right angles, and give off a sense of order in the composition. They look more manmade, structured, and artificial. Artists can choose to create a composition that revolves mainly around one of these styles of shape, or they can choose to combine both.
Texture refers to the physical and visual qualities of a surface.
Tactile texture, also known as "actual texture", refers to the physical three-dimensional texture of an object. Tactile texture can be perceived by the sense of touch. A person can feel the tactile texture of a sculpture by running their hand over its surface and feelings its ridges and dents.
Visual texture, also referred to as "implied texture", is not detectable by our sense of touch, but by our sense of sight. Visual texture is the illusion of a real texture on a two-dimensional surface. Any texture perceived in an image or photograph is a visual texture. A photograph of rough tree bark is considered a visual texture. It creates the impression of a real texture on a two-dimensional surface which would remain smooth to the touch no matter how rough the represented texture is..
In painting, different paints are used to achieve different types of textures. Paints such as oil, acrylic, and encaustic are thicker and more opaque and are used to create three-dimensional impressions on the surface. Other paints, such as watercolor, tend to be used for visual textures, because they are thinner and have transparency, and do not leave much tactile texture on the surface.
Many textures appear to repeat the same motif. When a motif is repeated over and over again in a surface, it results in a pattern. Patterns are frequently used in fashion design or textile design, where motifs are repeated to create decorative patterns on fabric or other textile materials. Patterns are also used in architectural design, where decorative structural elements such as windows, columns, or pediments, are incorporated into building design.
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:
In visual design, form is described as the way an artist arranges elements in the entirety of a composition. It may also 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 or 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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