Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login

:iconprojecteducate: More from projecteducate

Featured in Collections

News I Support by namenotrequired

Journals by jane-beata

Project Educate by alexandrasalas

More from DeviantArt


Submitted on
October 21, 2012


21 (who?)

Elements And Principles--Art 101

Sun Oct 21, 2012, 8:49 AM by thefantasim:iconthefantasim:

I wrote this article for my members at ManipulateThis when I found that most of them had no idea what I was speaking about when I try to explain something in their deviation concerning a principle or element of design. So, since this is PhotoManipulation month, I thought I'd educate those of  you who did not know about the Elements And Principles of design, and how to use the Elements to help you add pizazz to your deviations.
Elements and Principles of Design


:bulletpink: Question: What is meant by the Elements and Principles of Design?

:bulletgreen: Answer: Elements are the parts of a design, and the Principles are ways to use the parts.</b>

All art is comprised of Elements being arranged following the rules set by the Principles. Knowing the Elements and Principles can help you create more dynamic images. You must know and understand the rules that the Principles are based on before you can break away from them.

The Elements

Let's first take a look at each Elements.

:bulletblack: Color is light reflected off of objects. The three characteristics of Color are hue, value and intensity.
Fireball Over Earth by thefantasim

Light is needed to see color. Grey tones are a result of the little light on an object. The less light, the darker the grey. Therefore, black is the absence of all light.

color wheel by milkpoo
A typical Color Wheel showing the hue, value and intensity of Color. This one also shows three Tints (see below) for each color.

Hue refers to the name of the individual colors, that is, the primary colors, the secondary colors, and the tertiary colors.

Value refers to the lightness or darkness of a color. Adding white to a color with make a Tint of that color, and adding black to a color will make a </b>Shade</b> of that color.

Intensity refers to the brightness or dullness of a color.

:bulletblack: Line is a stroke from one point to another. Lines are straight, curved, or wavy. They can be broken or continuous.They can go in a horizontal, diagonal or vertical direction. They can be long, short, thick or thin.  
Line brushes by caotiicahDashed Line Brushes by Aless1984

:bulletblack: Shape is a line that has been closed. There are geometric Shapes, abstract Shapes and organic Shapes. Shapes can be made from thick or thin outlines, or have color within the outline, but they are always flat.
Shape Brushes by rabidbribrishape tag brushes by chokingonstatic

Form is a 3-Dimentional shape. Forms have length, width and depth. Boxes, spears, and cylinders are examples of Forms.
:thumb160803457:  3d box model by ooooak3D Box Tutorial by Czgtsrm

:bulletblack: Space is the area between and around objects. The Space around objects is called Negative Space while the object itself is taking up Positive Space. Space also refers to the illusion ofDepth in 2-dimentional art.
Remembering Brian by thefantasimField Of Yellow Flowers by thefantasim

:bulletblack: Texture is how a surface feels when touched, or how it looks like it should feel if touched. Smooth, rough, soft, hard, bumpy are all examples of Textures.
Rustic Relic by nitchwarmer

The Principles

Now for the Principles.

:bulletblack: Balance is the way the Elements are distributed on the picture plane. The Elements are equal on both sides from the center in Symmetrical Balance.  Asymmetrical Balance has one side different from the other. Radial Balance is when the Elements are arranged around the central point.
Edge Master Encore 26 by Ahrum-StockThe Ref Set6 by TasastockCancer by thefantasim

:bulletblack:Emphasis is the part of the design that catches the viewer’s attention. Usually Emphasis is created by doing something different with one or more Element in contrast with the other Elements.
Field Of Peaches by thefantasim

:bulletblack:Movement is a path through a design that is created with one or more of the Elements. The viewer eyes will catch the Element(s) and move in the direction that it/they take.
View From The Balcony by thefantasim

:bulletblack: Repetition is repeating an Element at least one time.
Faith by thefantasim

:bulletblack:Pattern happens when the Repetition of one or more Elements are done exactly the same over and over.  
Doorway To My World by thefantasim

:bulletblack:Proportion deals with the relationship between parts of a design and how they are related. For example, when drawing the human figure, proportion can refer to the size of the head compared to the rest of the body.  
Heart Gallery by thefantasim

:bulletblack:Rhythm is created when one or more Elements of design are used repeatedly through the design to create a feeling of organized movement.
Lucy In The Sky by thefantasim

:bulletblack:Variety is doing something different to hold the viewer's attention.

:bulletblack:Unity is the compilation of the Principles to create the feeling of harmony between all parts of the design. It also gives a sense of togetherness.

Finding Unity In A Photo-Manipulation

Doll In The Attic by thefantasim

In this last section I want to cover how the Principles are used together to create Unity in the Photo-Manipulation above.

:bulletgreen: The left and right background walls are establishing Symmetrical balance, while the mannikins and the drapes in the background create a sense of Asymmetrical balance.

:bulletgreen: Since the "doll" (the model)  is in the center of the back wall, and the color of her skin is brighter than anything else in the image, she becomes the Emphasis.

:bulletgreen: The lighter tones of the doll house, hat, tea cups, and tea pot help create Movement because the eye follows them towards the back of the image.  

:bulletgreen: The Repetition of the Colors help maintain the togetherness feeling of the image.

:bulletgreen: There is Pattern in the wallpaper.

:bulletgreen: The two mannequins and the similar colors establish a strong sense of Rhythm by moving the eye around the art work.

:bulletgreen: Even though there is blue in both the painting on the right wall and the tea pot, the blue in the painting is brighter, and therefore adds a little touch of Variety.

That's all. I hope this helps you be more aware of what you're doing when you're planning a Photo-Manipulation. Using the Elements purposefully following the rules as define in the Principles should give you more exciting and interesting looking images.

Good luck with your deviations,  and have fun creating art!

Some definitions are adapted from KIDSPACE…

Add a Comment:
WhenPigsFry Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Wonderful, educating article. Great definitions to help illustrate and teach about art. I would love to see this expanded! I think taking it to the next level with follow-up that starts explaining everything more in-depth and how to use and achieve the techniques in practice.
thefantasim Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2012   Digital Artist
That's a good idea. I was being more selected because I didn't want it to be too long. But I could have an intro to the actual longer tutorial, or have it in parts. :)
WhenPigsFry Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh, if it were really in-depth, I think multiple parts would be a must.
thefantasim Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2012   Digital Artist
caddman Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Professional General Artist
...Bravo...nice details...well done...:clap:
thefantasim Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2012   Digital Artist
Thanks so much! :D
DeaconStrucktor Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
A well thought out and presented summary. :thumbsup::)

I might consider adding Dominance as one of the principles. It might include Emphasis as a subset principle.

From "Watercolor Painting for Dummies" by Colette Pitcher -
"Dominance is the idea of importance. Some object or element in your picture should be dominant — take the lead role — in the painting. Without dominance, your painting may show too many things of equal importance. Choose something to be more important — something to be dominant. You can establish dominance using any of the elements — color, texture, line, shape, direction, or size of an item. For example, in a painting with all curvilinear lines and round shapes, the curved lines are the dominant element. You can do the same thing with squares. If the squares are all the same size, it
might be a fun pattern, but boring as a painting. But if one square is dominant over the already dominant square shapes, you have an interesting painting on your hands. The dominant square may be larger than the others, a different color, a different texture, or even turned a different direction.

Consider choosing a dominant temperature for your painting. Overall the painting should have one consistent temperature — either cool or warm. (Chapter 5 talks about color temperature.) An easy mistake to make is to evenly mix temperatures. For example, a landscape with a blue sky (cool) and autumn wheat grass (warm) is divided in half by temperature. By making one temperature dominant, you improve the painting. Choose one temperature and follow it throughout the painting. Move the horizon so it doesn’t bisect the painting (for more on horizon placement read Chapter 7). If you move the horizon up toward the sky, then the warm grass colors are two-thirds of the painting. Put clouds that have some warm tones in the sky, and now the painting is seven-eighths warm, so the painting is dominantly warm. You now have a dominant temperature, which makes your painting more appealing.

Another area to consider in your painting is the dominant value. The entire painting should be dominated by light or dark. A painting in which all the parts are in a high or light value is said to be a high-key painting. Conversely you can keep all the parts in your painting dark to create a low-key painting. Choosing a key is key.

Choosing a dominant color may be a good plan. Consider Picasso’s Blue Period. All his paintings were dominantly blue. Try using one color as a dominant element in your painting with a little complementary color for contrast. Use different values of the dominant color for variety.

It’s not a bad idea to plan the dominance in a painting. You can choose several elements at a time to be dominant: color, value, temperature, shape, size. You can use them all or focus on one at a time. Of course, you don’t have to do any of these suggestions. These are just ideas to improve the design of your painting.

(Note* This is where Emphasis comes in -Deacon) Anything can be dominant, but only one object should be dominant. Two dominant objects spell trouble, just like in a pack of wolves. If more than one thing attracts attention, the eye is torn between which item to look at. In a painting, it’s best to be clear about the main idea you want the viewer to see. "
Aeirmid Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2012   Digital Artist
Beautiful job! :heart:
thefantasim Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012   Digital Artist
Thanks so much! :D
ScatteredAshe Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you, this is excellent!
Add a Comment: