Principles of Design

  • In the study of design we should note there is no longer a clear-cut line between fine art and applied art anymore. All art, whether it is Web design, industrial design, fine art, sculpture,commercial art, or graphic art, is subject to the same principles of good design. Graphic artists compose their designs and page layouts using the same design principles the fine artists use. Just as a fine artist arranges various components within a painting to create a pleasing composition, so it is with the graphic artist. The artist may use a vase of flowers, a bowl of fruit, or a figurine to design a lovely still life composition. The graphic artist will use headlines, bodies of text, photos, illustrations, and clipart images to compose a page or Web site. 

    Movement The basis of all design is the arrangement of the elements of a work of art, using the design principles. It is the bringing together of various components into one area and arranging them in such a way as to create a composition, layout or design that is both unified and pleasing to look at. For example every artist whether they realize it or not is familiar with the elements of a composition.

    The Principles of Design are:

    • Balance - a feeling of equality of weight, attention, or attraction of the various elements within the composition as a means of accomplishing unity

    • Movement - the suggestion of action or direction, the path our eyes follow when we look at a work of art

    • Repetition and Rhythm - the act of repeating an element either regularly or irregularly resulting in a rhythm of the repeating elements

    • Emphasis - the stress placed on a single area of a work or unifying visual theme

    • Simplicity (a.k.a. visual economy) - the elimination of all non-essential elements or details to reveal the essence of a form

    • Contrast - the difference between elements or the opposition to various elements

    • Proportion - the relation of two things in size, number, amount, or degree

    • Space - the interval or measurable distance between objects or forms (two dimensional or three dimensional)

    • Unity - the relationship between the individual parts and the whole of a composition

    Many artists use these principles more intuitively than intellectually but are nevertheless subconsciously aware of them and their impact upon a composition.