Elements of Design

The elements of design surround us no matter where we go; we are constantly being reminded of the design choices of others by observing the world around us. Where as a design is the overall function of a piece of work, visual design is more about how the design is perceived and liked by others.

There are several principles of Design:

  • Balance is a very important part of design because it allows for objects and shapes to be aesthetically placed around the picture.
  • Contrast is important because it gets the attention of others, it’s meant to grab the eyes away from everything else. It also helps to organize the content of your work..
  • Emphasis is very similar to contrast, but stands all on its own. Emphasis is the element of the work that is supposed to grab the attention, it was meant to be seen first and foremost. Emphasis doesn’t have to be obvious, but can also be implied.
  • Movement is used to express action in a picture. A variety of shapes and lines are used to make it have the appearance of movement. Individual frames and diagonal lines help to lend to the idea of movement in a work of art.
  • A Pattern is a repeated use of a visual element in order to create a rhythm in a work of art.
  • Rhythm allows your work to contain a certain consistency. A pattern is found within a rhythm.
  • Unity allows you to see the relationship among all the different elements in the design.
  • Dominance works with different lines and shapes to assert all the different elements. This is also how dominance works with balance to create unity.
  • Proportion involves the scale of the pictorial elements. Proportion usually must have standards and cannot be made at random.
  • The idea behind minimalism is that sometimes the message can be direct, and all that extra fluff isn’t really necessary to say what you are trying to say.

Here are the examples of design principles that I found in my own environment:


This is an example that I found using color. You can see how all the bright, accompanying colors bring focus to the piece of art in question.


I used this old political poster not just because of the language difference, but mostly because you can see that the letters were supposed to one of the main points of the poster. Large, bold, and black.

IMAG0328I took a picture of this wall hanging as an example of rhythm. There are smaller, repeating patterns that become a part of a larger and more meaningful rhythm.


This is an example I used for metaphor/symbol. Uncle Sam represents a spirit that was uncontrollable during an ever expanding time for our nature. Here he can be seen standing coast to coast of the US, and the print below him read “The Stride Of A Century”. These are symbols for the manifest destiny.

Design is full of nuances and skills to learn in order to better help humans both create and appreciate works of art.