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Tutorial--The Elements And Principles Of Design

Journal Entry: Fri May 18, 2012, 5:44 PM
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In June of 2011, I had written a "walk through" type of tutorial on the difference between "design" and "scene"… 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 and Principles 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?

Answer: Elements 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 and Principles 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.

The Elements

Let's first take a look at each Element.

:bulletblack: Color is light reflected off of objects. The three characteristics of Color are hue, value and intensity.

Fireball Over Earth by TheFantaSim

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.

color wheel by milkpoo

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 and Secondary 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 Shade

Intensity refers to the brightness or dullness of a color.

:bulletblack: 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.

Line brushes by caotiicahDashed Line Brushes by Aless1984

:bulletblack: Shape is a line that has been closed. There are Geometric Shapes, Abstract Shapes, and Organic Shapes. Shapes can be made with thick or thin outlines, or have color within the outline, but they are always flat.

Shape Brushes by rabidbribrishape tag brushes by chokingonstatic

:bulletblack: Form is a 3-Dimensional Shape. Forms have length, width and depth. Boxes, spheres, and cylinders are examples of Forms.

:thumb160803457:  3d box model by ooooak3D Box Tutorial by Czgtsrm

:bulletblack: Space is the area between and around objects. The Space around objects are called Negative Space while the object itself is taking up Positive Space. Space also refers to the illusion of Depth in 2-Dimensional art.

Remembering Brian by TheFantaSimField Of Yellow Flowers by TheFantaSim

:bulletblack: 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.

The Principles

Now for the Principles.

:bulletblack: 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.

Edge Master Encore 26 by Ahrum-StockCancer by TheFantaSim

:bulletblack: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.

Field Of Peaches by TheFantaSim

:bulletblack:Movement 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.

View From The Balcony by TheFantaSim

:bulletblack: Repetition is repeating an Element at least one time.

Faith by TheFantaSim

:bulletblack:Pattern happens when the Repetition of one or more Elements are done exactly the same over and over.
Doorway To My World by TheFantaSim

:bulletblack: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.

Heart Gallery by TheFantaSim

:bulletblack:Rhythm is created when one or more Elements of design are used repeatedly through the design to create a feeling of organized movement.

Lucy In The Sky by TheFantaSim

:bulletblack:Variety is doing something different to hold the viewer's attention.

:bulletblack: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

Doll In The Attic by TheFantaSim

In this last section I want to cover how the Principles are used together to create Unity in the Photo-Manipulation above.

:bulletgreen: The left and right background walls are establishing Symmetrical balance, while the manniquins and the drapes in the background create a sense of Assymetrical balance.

:bulletgreen: 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.

:bulletgreen: 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.  

:bulletgreen: The Repetition of the Colors help maintain the togetherness feeling of the image.

:bulletgreen: There is Pattern in the wallpaper.

:bulletgreen: The two mannequins and the similar colors establish a strong sense of Rhythm by moving the eye around the art work.

:bulletgreen: 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…

ManipulateThis banner created by TheFantaSim. View original photo manipulation here:…
Add a Comment:
Maneku Featured By Owner May 20, 2012
Thank you for your precious time to write these helpful tutorials. It is hard to grasp it all at once and reminders helpp me a lot.

HisGeenky Featured By Owner May 18, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you this is really well done.
TheFantaSim Featured By Owner May 19, 2012   General Artist
Thank you! :D
eveningstars242 Featured By Owner May 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I see now...I read the other tuto. as well and I agree with Erin somethings just don't work and it can be so frustrating! now with this I can apply :woohoo:
TheFantaSim Featured By Owner May 19, 2012   General Artist
wow! That makes me very happy. :bounce:
eveningstars242 Featured By Owner May 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
ErinM31 Featured By Owner May 18, 2012
Thank you for this! :) I am trying to be more mindful of these things. Nothing more frustrating than looking at something you've been working on for hours and knowing it doesn't work but not why! :disbelief:
TheFantaSim Featured By Owner May 19, 2012   General Artist
I'm glad. :D
Add a Comment:

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Submitted on
May 18, 2012


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