In June of 2011, I had written a "walk through" type of tutorial on the difference between "design"
and "scene" [link]
since many of our members were confused about which was which. In that tutorial, I had mentioned the Elements And Principles Of Design
with defintions for each. At that time, `WDWParksGal
asked me to write a blog that would fully explain what the Elements
were so that she could refer deviants directly to the tutorial. Well, I'm sorry that this is so late, but here it is.
This tutorial is meant for Novice and Beginning Photo-Manipulators
, but I'm hoping everyone will learn something they did not know.
Elements and Principles of Design
Question: What is meant by the Elements and Principles of Design
are the parts of a design, and the Principles
are ways to use the parts.
All art is comprised of theElements
being arranged following the rules set by the Principles
. Knowing the Elements
can help you create more dynamic images. You must know and understand the rules that the Principles
are based on before you can break away from them.
Let's first take a look at each Element
is light reflected off of objects. The three characteristics of Color are hue, value and intensity.Light
is needed to see color. Grey tones are a result of the little light on an object. The less light, the darker the grey. Therefore, black is the abscense of all light.
Above is a typical Color Wheel
showing the hue, value and intensity of Color
. This one also shows three Tints
(see below) for each color. Hue
refers to the name of the individual colors. The Primary Colors
are red, blue, and yellow. When combined they create the Secondary Colors
, violet (purple), green, and orange. The Colors
that sit between the Primary
colors are the Tertiary Colors
,i.e., red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green, yellow-green, yellow-orange, and red-orange. Colors
that are opposite from one another on the Color Wheel
are called Complementary Colors
, such as blue and orange, yellow and violet, and green and red. Value
refers to the lightness or darkness of a color. Adding white to a Color
will make a Tint
of that Color
. The more white the lighter the Tint
. Adding black to a Color
will make a Shade
of that Color
. The more black you add the darker the ShadeIntensity
refers to the brightness or dullness of a color. Line
is a stroke from one point to another. Lines are straight, curved, or wavy. They can be broken or continous.They can go in a horizonal, diagonal or verticle direction. They can be long, short, thick or thin. Shape
is a line that has been closed. There are Geometric Shapes
, Abstract Shapes
, and Organic Shapes
can be made with thick or thin outlines, or have color within the outline, but they are always flat. Form
is a 3-Dimensional Shape
have length, width and depth. Boxes, spheres, and cylinders are examples of Forms
is the area between and around objects. The Space
around objects are called Negative Space
while the object itself is taking up Positive Space
also refers to the illusion of Depth
in 2-Dimensional art. Texture
is how a surface feels when touched, or how it looks like it should feel if touched. Smooth, rough, soft, hard, bumpy are all examples of Textures.
Now for the Principles. Balance
is the way the Elements
are distributed on the picture plane. The Elements
are equal on both sides from the center in Symmetrical Balance
. Asymmetrical Balance
has one side different from the other. Radial Balance
is when the Elements
are arranged around the central point.Emphasis
is the part of the design that catches the viewer’s attention. Usually Emphasis
is created by doing something different with one or more Element
in contrast with the other Elements
is a path through a design that is created with one or more of the Elements
. The viewer eyes will catch the Element(s)
and move in the direction that it/they take. Repetition
is repeating an Element
at least one time. Pattern
happens when the Repetition
of one or more Elements
are done exactly the same over and over.Proportion
deals with the relationship between parts of a design and how they are related. For example, when drawing the human figure, Proportion
can refer to the size of the head compared to the rest of the body. Rhythm
is created when one or more Elements
of design are used repeatedly through the design to create a feeling of organized movement. Variety
is doing something different to hold the viewer's attention. Unity
is the complilation of the Principles
to create the feeling of harmony between all parts of the design. It also gives a sense of togetherness.
Finding Unity In A Photo-Manipulation
In this last section I want to cover how the Principles
are used together to create Unity
in the Photo-Manipulation above.
The left and right background walls are establishing Symmetrical
balance, while the manniquins and the drapes in the background create a sense of Assymetrical
Since the "doll" is in the center of the back wall, and the color of her skin is brighter than anything else in the image, she becomes the Emphasis
The lighter tones of the doll house, hat, tea cups, and tea pot help create Movement
because the eye follows them towards the back of the image.
of the Colors
help maintain the togetherness feeling of the image.
There is Pattern
in the wallpaper.
The two mannequins and the similar colors establish a strong sense of Rhythm
by moving the eye around the art work.
Even though there is blue in both the painting on the right wall and the tea pot, the blue in the painting is brighter, and therefore adds a little touch of Variety
That's all. I hope this will help you be more aware of what you're doing when you're planning a Photo-Manipulation. Using the Elements purposefully while following the rules as define in the Principles should give you more exciting and interesting looking images.
If you have anything to add to this tutorial, have questions, or just want to make a statement about what you just read, I welcome them in the comments with this blog.
Good luck, and have fun creating art!
Some definitions are adapted from KIDSPACE ART.[link]