Welcome to this presentation. This presentation will explain what the elements and principles of design in art are. As artists, we need to understand what elements are and how to apply the principles of design to be able to formally analyze our own and other artist’s works of art. These elements and principles are how we are able to define what has gone into the work of art.
Elements of design are the techniques used to make a work of art.
Actual line is just that; a line that is visible. Lines can be both straight or wavy and thick or thin. Hatching is a technique that uses multiple lines in the same direction. The lower part of the pant legs as well as other areas in this drawing use hatching. Crosshatching is a technique that uses multiple lines like in hatching but crosshatching has multiple lines that cross the hatch marks. An Example of crosshatching in this drawing, is the upper part of the man’s legs. Hatching and crosshatching are used to create value, depth, and texture.
Implied line is when there is no line but the eye automatically connects points within the composition. This could be a series of dots, dashes, objects, and so on that create the illusion of a line.
This is an example of where the implied lines are in this painting. It is also an example of one-point perspective (meaning that all implied lines meet at the same point somewhere in the composition). In this case, in the center.
Psychic line is also a non-existent line that is created by directional cues. One could classify implied line and psychic line as one in the same. Specifically, a psychic line would be a directional (non-existent) line that is created by a subject pointing or looking in a particular direction or by using arrows. The red arrows on this slide show how the directional line is created by where the people are looking and gesturing.
Shapes can be organic or geometric. A couple of examples of shapes in this painting are the rectangles that make up the houses and then the organic wavy mountains in the background.
Here is another example of a mixture of organic and geometric shapes.
Forms are generally thought of as 3-dementional objects. However, the terms form and shape can be synonymous with each other. There also is the terms “open form” and “closed form”. Open form is where the design basically falls off the sides of the composition, like a photograph or a painting of a landscape. Closed form is where the focal point is completely contained within the center of the composition and gives off a framed feeling. It does not draw your eye outside of the composition.
Space is the area surrounding the objects in a composition. Generally the object or objects take on dominance in a composition. While the space around the objects become secondary. This can be referred to as figure and ground or Positive and Negative space. The object being the figure or positive space versus the space around the object is the ground or negative space.
Color has such a dynamic place in design. It gives a composition depth, volume, balance, space, emphasis to certain objects, creates light, darkness and so on. Color can have a psychological effect on us as well. It can dictate the mood of a composition that can effect our mood as the viewer. It can create cold or warm feelings. Specific use of color can create sensations typical of its usage. For example, this painting’s monochromatic use of blue gives it a melancholy feeling.
Texture can be actual or implied. Actual texture can be created on any surface by building up or taking away layers and is something that can be felt. Implied texture is using lines (such as hatching or cross-hatching) or marks to imply that there is texture present. This can be done on both 3-D and 2-D works of art. This painting is an example of actual and implied texture. Van Gogh used thick paint and single strokes of color to create texture in this painting. In person you would be able to see the texture but as a photograph the texture is implied.
The principles of design are the ways we apply the elements of design.
Symmetrical balance is achieved when both sides of a composition are distributed similarly. In this painting there 3 equal sections. The Madonna and child are centered while there are 2 people to left and 2 people to the right of her. This creates a symmetrical balance.
Asymmetrical balance is when different elements are present but are laid out to create a balanced feel to the composition. For example, in this painting the side of the hill on the bottom left is balanced out by the tree that outstretches to the right as well as the boulder and hill to the bottom right is balanced by the large full tree in the upper left corner of the composition.
Emphasis is used to create a focal point in a composition. For example, in this painting the background is darker, while the foreground is much lighter as if it is under a bright light. The lighter area creates a focal point on the DR. and the men near him.
Movement or motion is created by showing dramatic positioning, such as in this painting. It can also be created by using lines in a sweeping motion or by depicting a frozen moment in time where activity is apparent.
Pattern is the repetitive use of an object or symbol throughout a composition or in a specific area.
Repetition can be a pattern but it also is the repeated use of an element of design. In this painting, van Gogh uses repetition of wavy and straight lines and a limited variation of colors. His use of repetition creates drama, movement, and texture.
Proportion also known as scale is representative of creating a composition that reflects objects that are somewhat realistic in size compared to each other. Or can be abstract in its representation of oversized or undersized objects. An example of proportion in this painting, is that the people are of a relatable size in the foreground but as you look toward the background the people and objects get smaller and smaller. The proportions adjust by the amount of distance that is covered.
Rhythm can be described as repetition and pattern as well. This woodblock print shows rhythm by the repetitive use of curved lines that represent the movement of the wave.
Variety is the use of different elements that add to the visual interest of the composition. In this composition, the same flowers are used but each bunch looks different which creates variety.
Unity is where elements of a composition create a harmonious feeling throughout the design. Unity can be created by using repetitive lines, objects, or color. In this painting, the unity is created by the repetitive use of curved lines and the monochromatic use of color.
This concludes this presentation. Thank you for watching.
Elements & principles in design
Principles in Design
Elements of Design
The Mona Lisa
Oil on panel
30.3 x 20.9 in
Circa 1503 - 1505
Line – Actual
Old Man with
His Head in His
19.7 × 13.4 in
Line – Implied
19.7 × 13.4 in
1509 - 1511