It is the smallest element in visual language.
We have the dot and the graphic dot. In digital
art we also have the Digital dot which
correspond to a pixel.
Geometric dot: it describes a position in space
and it has no length, area or volume.
Graphic dot: it’s a shape so it can have size,
texture and colour.
We usually think that the dot is a very small
circle, but depending on the drawing or painting
tools we are using, it can have very different
shapes. Its contours can be smooth or irregular.
The dot can seem large or small, depending on
the magnitude of the surface that contains it,
and the shapes that surround it.
THE DOT AS AN EXPRESSIVE ELEMENT
The dot can be organized by forming groups with
different structures to make volume effects,
chiaroscuro, various textures, etc.
If you vary the color, size and texture of the dots,
you can increase the expressiveness of a
THE DOT AS A COMPOSITIONAL ELEMENT.
The dot, alone by itself, is a static visual element. Only when we put
it on a plane or place it in a certain space, some visual tensions are
created, suggesting direction or movement, providing the basic
structure of two-dimensional or three-dimensional compositions.
A dot in the center of a space
attracts our attention, we will no
longer perceive the space around
it. This position produces a visual
sense of order and balance.
If we move the dot out of the center, a
large empty space appears, producing
a visual sensation of tension and
movement towards the end of the
plane, where the point is located.
Look how the moon attracts our
attention and its situation, centered on
the image, produces a certain sense of
In this landscape, the sun attracts all the
attention, even over the other forms and colors,
which are dependent on this shape and the
space where it is located.
Look at this work by Max Ernst in which the moon has
been placed as the main focus. If the moon were
surrounded by many luminous stars in all the sky, would
our attention on the moon increase or would this effect
The line is another element of plastic expression and is
defined as the mark that a point leaves when it slides on
The line is the ideal element to make geometric tracings,
sketches and scientific drawings. Many plastic artists and
designers make original line drawings, because of its
infinite possibilities of expression.
Like the point, the line can be used in different
ways, always being adapted to the wanted
THE LINE AS AN EXPRESSIVE ELEMENT
The expressiveness of a line depends on the length of its
trace, its color, its intensity or strength, its thickness, the
sharpness of its edges, its modulation and its uniformity.
A uniform and objective line is used when we seek for an
information clearer than which the real figure provides,
as in scientific drawings.
A modulated and subjective line, combining tracings with
different characteristics like intensity, thickness, colour,
etc., can represent all kinds of abstract or figurative
forms, with infinite expressive possibilities.
THE LINE AS A COMPOSITIONAL ELEMENT
When we draw a line on a surface there is a visual
movement with a direction and with a tension, capable
of attracting visual attention. The type of movement,
direction and disposition of the lines in the drawing plane
produce emotional feelings that have to be considered
when making a composition.
Vertical lines produce a
balancing and growing
Curved lines are graceful and they contrast with the
roughness of the broken lines and the precision and
rigidity of the straight lines.
Horizontal lines produce
a visual sensation of calm
Jagged lines produce an
effect of dynamism,
instability, turmoil and
When a line closes on itself,
the idea of a plane or
surface begins to appear.
The plane is visually
defined by its shape, size,
colour, direction and
A plane can be graphically
described using contrast,
contour line and texture
THE PLANE AND THE SENSATION OF THREE-DIMENSIONAL SPACE
Although the plane is two-dimensional, it can create
the illusion of three-dimensional space and produce
visual sensations of approach, distance and volume.
To achieve that, we use these resources:
Difference in size: increasing or
decreasing the size between the
planes, give us the impression of
distance among them.
Color difference: warm colors tend
to seem closer and cold colors
seem to be further from the
Texture difference: smooth and homogeneous textures give a
sense of distance, and rough and irregular textures appear
Overlap: when one plane partially covers another, it seems to
be in front of it, creating a sense of depth.
o Curvature or fold: planes
can be curved by curvy
contours and they also can
be bent by edges, producing
a feeling of volume.
o Shading: the shading of the
planes produces a feeling of
relief and also distance from
the surface where they are
Trees: size variation, difference of color and texture
THE PLANE AS A COMPOSITIONAL ELEMENT
The shape, arrangement, color and texture of a plane
produces visual and emotive sensations similar to the
ones that the line gives to us.
In general, if they are arranged horizontally and vertically,
they will produce a sense of stillness, and if they appear
in diagonal directions, the visual effect produced is
THE PLANE IN SPACE
being the plane the main configurator element of the
volume, one of its fundamental artistic applications is
related to the form and the space, as it happens with the
sculpture and with the architecture.
in three-dimensional works, we must consider concepts
such as empty and full space, void and solid, concave and
convex, and opened and closed planes.
In architecture, the plane takes part mainly in the
creation of inner and outer spaces. in each of the
architectural tendencies, the treatment given to the
plane can create different environments and possibilities.
The texture is the appearance of a surface. As a
visual language element, it can enrich the
expressiveness of an artwork or being the main
element to make a composition.
The texture can be smooth or plain, rough,
rugged or eneven or grainy.
Textures are also important for the artwork
expressiveness. For example, a plain texture
gives an static feeling while a rugged or uneven
textures seems more dinamic and emphasizes
the movement sensation.
TYPE OF TEXTURES
Textures can be:
Tactile Graphic Natural Artificial
The tactile texture is the one we can perceive
by the touch and the sight. When we touch
and observe the surface, we can perceive
wheter the texture has relief and if it is
smooth, rough, grainy… Each matter has a
The graphic texture is the representation of the
tactile textures trough graphic médiums like
painting, drawing, photography… We can only
perceive them by the sight.
Graphic textures can imitate the tactile textures
of real objets or they can be artistically created,
enhacing the expressiveness of the composition.
We can make graphic textures by scraping, using
transparencies, by stencil or stamping, with
Natural textures can be found in
elements of nature: a tree bark, a
rhinoceros skin, the Surface of a
quartz glass or in a flower petal.
The artificial texture is any natural
material which has been
manufactured. This kind of textures
structures the material surface
which objects are fabriqued with: a
sintetic handbag, the relief of the
paint for a wall, a gift paper…
LIGHT IN TEXTURE
Light and color are very important aspects which we should consider
when planning an artistical composition, because they can really
change the perception and the expressive capacities of the textures.
A lateral light will enhace the relief effect of a texture while a front
light can hide or flatten the textures.