Elements of Graphic Design


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| 10-typography | 11-lesson resources |

The elements of design are the basic components used as part of any composition. They are the objects to be arranged, the constituent parts used to create the composition itself. In most situations the elements of design build upon one another, the former element helping to create the latter, and the elements described in this column are arranged as such. We will be focusing on the elements of point, line, form (shape), texture and color.


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| 10-typography | 11-lesson resources |

1 - Points

Point is the most basic element of visual design. Points have position and size as well as focus weight... eg, a hard red point or a soft defocused point. Point is excellent to create visual emphasis or a focus point, and easily shows the Gestalt principle of Closure, where points can be combined with other points to indicate grouping, lines or shapes.

point 1point 2point 3

---------Point -----_----Multiple points in space ----3 point closure


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| 10-typography | 11-lesson resources |

2 - Lines

Line is any mark connecting two points. Many different types of lines appear everywhere. Look around you and you'll see lines that are straight, curved, squiggly, thin, fat, and dotted. Much less basic than point, line is a major element of design. Line can be either static or dynamic, horz, vertical, diagonal/angled, straight or curved, short or long, thick or thin, soft or hard, explicit or implied, or any number of other things. Lines can be open or closed and serve different design functions like gesture, contour, direction, movement, perspective and when combined with other lines... value, texture, pattern, density, shape, form etc

Lines can be used to:

lines 1

lines 3

lines 6


| 1-points | 2-lines | 3-shapes | 4-color | 5-value | 6-texture | 7-direction | 8-mass | 9-space |
| 10-typography | 11-lesson resources |

3 - Shapes

Anything that has height and width has shape. Unusual shapes can be used to attract attention.

There are basically three types of shapes:

  1. Geometric shapes, such as triangles, squares, rectangles, and circles, are regular and structured. These shapes work very well as building blocks for graphic design.
  2. Natural shapes, such as animals, plants, and humans, are irregular and fluid.
  3. Abstracted shapes, such as icons, stylized figures, and graphic illustrations, are simplified versions of natural shapes.

Shapes can be used to:

basic shapesshapes 7

Geometric Shapes

natural shape 1 natural shape 2

Natural Shapes

image 30 image 20

Abstracted Shapes


| 1-points | 2-lines | 3-shapes | 4-color | 5-value | 6-texture | 7-direction | 8-mass | 9-space |
| 10-typography | 11-lesson resources |

4 - color

One of the elements of design is color. Color is an added dimension that can evoke moods and make powerful statements when used wisely. With colors you can set a mood, attract attention, or make a statement. You can use color to energize, or to cool down. By selecting the right color scheme, you can create an ambiance of elegance, warmth or tranquility, or you can convey an image of playful youthfulness. Color can be your most powerful design element if you learn to use it effectively. Colors affect us in numerous ways, both mentally and physically. A strong red color has been shown to raise the blood pressure, while a blue color has a calming effect.

Being able to use colors consciously and harmoniously can help you create spectacular results.

The Color Wheel

Warm and cool colors
The color circle can be divided into warm and cool colors.

Warm colors are vivid and energetic, and tend to advance in space.

Cool colors give an impression of calm, and create a soothing impression.

White, black and gray are considered to be neutral.

Color can be used to:

color wheel

| 1-points | 2-lines | 3-shapes | 4-color | 5-value | 6-texture | 7-direction | 8-mass | 9-space |
| 10-typography | 11-lesson resources |

5 - value or tone

The element of value or tone is, in its simplest form, defined as the intensity of lightness or darkness in anything that is visible. Think in terms of the spectrum from black to white and the many shades of gray in between. Each shade on this spectrum has a value, from the very lightest to the very darkest. Value separates, suggests mood, adds drama, and creates the illusion of depth.

grayscale inage

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| 10-typography | 11-lesson resources |

6 - texture

Texture is the look or feel of a surface. You can add richness and dimension to your layouts with texture. Visual texture creates an illusion of texture on a printed publication or web page. Patterns, such as the images printed on wrapping paper, are a type of visual texture. Tactile texture can actually be felt. Printed publications can be printed on textured paper that readers can feel. Look at some of the examples to the right.

Texture can be used to:

texture

vintage textures

image source: http://www.cloaks.deviantart.com


| 1-points | 2-lines | 3-shapes | 4-color | 5-value | 6-texture | 7-direction | 8-mass | 9-space |
| 10-typography | 11-lesson resources |

7 - Direction

 

direction 2


| 1-points | 2-lines | 3-shapes | 4-color | 5-value | 6-texture | 7-direction | 8-mass | 9-space |
| 10-typography | 11-lesson resources |

8 - Mass or Size

Size or mass is how large or small something is. Size is very important in making a layout functional, attractive, and organized. It shows what is most important, attracts attention, and helps to fit the layout together. Mass equals size. Each piece you create has a physical mass. Additionally, each element within the design (graphics, photos, lines, text blocks) have their own mass relative to the whole piece.

Size or Mass can be used to:

mass 1

| 1-points | 2-lines | 3-shapes | 4-color | 5-value | 6-texture | 7-direction | 8-mass | 9-space |
| 10-typography | 11-lesson resources |

9 - Space

Space refers to the lack of mass or often referred to as whitespace. When we say whitespace we don't mean that the area actually has to be white, it can be any color, it is just void of stuff! Space is the distance or area between or around things. Space separates or unifies, highlights, and gives the eye a visual rest. Feel free to use space in your design to create simplicity. View the examples to the right. Notice that the third one is the most effective and uses the most space or white space in the overall design.

Space can be used to:

fashion 1

full color bleed - no white space

fashion 2

white space used in the border

fashion 3

The third uses the creative and unpredictable edge build.
The asymmetry symbolizes daring and innovation.


| 1-points | 2-lines | 3-shapes | 4-color | 5-value | 6-texture | 7-direction | 8-mass | 9-space |
| 10-typography | 11-lesson resources |

10 - typography

Typography is the art of arranging typefaces, selecting style, line spacing, layout and design as a means of solidifying language. There are many facets to typography, and only a brief investigation will be started here based around some common terms.

letter forms

typo2

| 1-points | 2-lines | 3-shapes | 4-color | 5-value | 6-texture | 7-direction | 8-mass | 9-space |
| 10-typography | 11-lesson resources |

Lesson Resources

  1. http://www.online.tusc.k12.al.us/tutorials/grdesign/grdesign.htm#princdes
  2. http://desktoppub.about.com/cs/graphicdesign/a/designbasics_2.htm
  3. http://www.canleyvale.hs.education.nsw.gov.au/Winning%20websites/art/eod.htm
  4. http://www.digital-web.com/articles/principles_of_design/
  5. https://www.math.duke.edu/education/ccp/resources/write/design/graphic4.html
  6. http://websmx.com/dme/?Lectures:Graphic_Design:Design_Element_-_Point_and_Line
  7. http://daphne.palomar.edu/design/contents.html#anchor1835584
  8. http://graphicdesign.about.com/
  9. http://www.tigercolor.com/
  10. http://www.craigkunce.com/