11 Vital Elements of Art That Make a Good Design
When undertaking any form of visual art, it is almost imperative to understand the different elements of art.
When taken individually, they are fundamental and easy to understand, but the magic starts when one slowly integrates and creates something of meaning.
A message is better conveyed when the visual representing it is cohesive and pleasing to the eyes.
Even though all forms of art are under subjective judgment, the artist uses careful direction to mould their subject into an object of their own interpretation.
By understanding the elements of art and design principles, one can construct a piece that can speak to the onlooker.
Below, we’ll be discussing the elements of art and how they can be used in your own projects.
The Elements of Art
What exactly are the so-called “Elements of Art”?
To make an analogy, they are like the ingredients of a dish.
These are individual aspects that you need to put together when creating your art piece.
Even though we focus heavily on visual art, some of these elements can be related to other art forms like music.
1 – Point and Dot
In geometric terms, a point is defined as a location where two coordinates meet.
It has a position but does not have an extension, dimensions or any area.
It has no width, no depth, no length and no size.
What we can actually draw is a dot.
Dots are the building blocks of every element from lines to shapes, forms and everything else.
As the simplest elements of art and design, a point shown by a dot can act as a focal or a stopping point in a design composition; it can serve as a focus element and draw attention.
2 – Line
Probably the most basic element of any art form: everything starts with a line.
To formally define; a line is a series of moving dots that represent a linear mark.
All forms of art are created using lines, even ones that don’t necessarily show it.
When an artist creates a draft of their work, they start with ragged and edgy lines.
Hatching is a kind of shading technique where one uses lines to create shading or the illusion of light in an artwork.
It seems impossible to look around and not see any line in some form everywhere.
Aside from being the foundation of all art, this is the very reason why lines are considered the most versatile element of art.
Lines vary in length, width, height and direction.
The use of lines in art can elicit psychological effect and response from viewers.
For example, a curve line can evoke the feeling of comfort and ease, while irregular lines like jagged and spiky ones bring out chaotic vibe, evoking anxiety and disorder.
3 – Shape
Similar to lines, shapes are everywhere – and both elements always go together.
Shapes can also evoke various meanings and vibes.
They create a movement that can lead the viewers’ eyes from one design element to another.
In even the most abstract of a good design, shapes will find their way into the canvas of your eyes.
After all, it’s a proven fact that our mind will look for patterns in almost anything.
Shapes are a combination of multiple lines to create a boundary.
They’re usually two-dimensional and come in three different ways: geometric, abstract, and organic.
Geometric shapes are precise and have structure. They’re your squares, circles, octagons, and all the ones that end with a ‘-gon’.
They are usually based on mathematical principles.
Organic shapes are any shapes inspired by nature- leaves, trees, different animals, and people.
Abstract shapes recreate reality through the lens of minimalism.
The best examples of abstract shapes are different signs used in daily life – no smoking, the symbol for disability, or even a basic drawing of a stick figure.
4 – Colour
Psychology plays a role in the use of colour.
Different colours trigger reactions from us regardless if we feel them consciously or not.
Colour has played a significant role in products being remembered by different consumers.
For example, the excessive usage of red among fast-food businesses.
The colour red is usually associated with extreme emotions – passionate love, loud and aggressive movements.
It also softly triggers hunger within most people.
Orange, red, yellow, and everything in between are all warm colours.
They’re very cheerful colours and can give people the energy they need to seize the day.
They also provoke hunger and passion within ourselves.
Colours like blue, green, purple, and all the associated ones are considered cool colours.
They’re usually used to create an atmosphere that is very soothing and soft.
When one sees them, they think of nature, the evening skies, and clear waters.
Medical and health companies would use blues or greens in their symbols.
The proper use of colour on one’s piece may be a painting, a website, or a film short – can make or break it.
How we combine and match colours can build or break the whole aspect of design.
The wrong combination of colours can convey an unintended message or misconception to viewers.
5 – Form
A Form is usually the composition on the space; another name for form is the positive element.
Although people often use form and shape interchangeably, they do have their differences.
Shapes are usually trapped within the realms of 2D while all forms can play with 2D or 3D.
Another important distinction is the form’s use of space: space can affect how the form is viewed.
With careful manipulation, you can make a form look close to the real thing by applying shadows, highlights, and other elements.
6 – Value
When talking about value, it is usually referring specifically to a hue’s lightness or darkness.
They are usually scaled concerning how close or far they are from black and white.
For example, bright colours like pink, green, and yellow scale towards white, thus having higher values.
In contrast, hues closer to black have lower values – which is why you can read black text on a white background.
Value is responsible for the existence of texture, tone and light in art.
In photography, paintings and other digital arts, the semblance of dark and light can be achieved by manipulating the value.
Contrast and brightness can easily be manipulated through values adjustment between hues like black and white.
You can create the illusion of vibration, frequency and movement in your art when you use colours with similar value and low contrast.
As an artist, you should produce and use the correct tonal values for your piece.
7 – Space
Space surrounds your form, it’s the empty space that was not utilised in the visual piece.
It doesn’t always have to be used to mean anything; sometimes, the absence of form in space can create an impact.
Space plays a fundamental part in design.
As generally referred to the area in which forms and shapes occupy, it is significant because it creates a visual separation or distinction between elements or objects.
A positive space means filled space, and negative space is empty space.
With this conception, art pieces are created and understood; making “space” is fascinating to think of in design.
8 – Texture
Textures are supposed to emulate 3D feelings through 2D designs using patterns, shadows, lightning, etc.
It’s supposed to tickle the viewer’s tactile senses by emulating the feeling as much as possible.
People do this when they apply textures when they’re editing certain photos – using a paper or scratchy stock image on a photo is very popular among graphic designers.
9 – Size and Proportion
The critical thing to note regarding size and scale is its relationship to other objects in the artwork or design.
Scaling refers to its proximity to the viewer and other elements present within the piece.
For example, the closer it is to the onlooker, the bigger it gets, and when it’s smaller, it’s assumed to be farther.
On the other hand, proportion works concerning the different parts of the piece.
An excellent example of this is the proportion in a drawing of a human body.
When we draw the face, we make sure that the eyes are proportioned by making sure they are the correct size and shape.
We then make sure that they are spaced appropriately from your piece’s ears, nose, and forehead.
10 – Direction
Direction propels the viewers in whatever direction the creator wants them to go.
Other visual content or media like movies and music videos love applying subtle direction to move the scenery along.
In a straightforward example, paintings that involve people or other living beings apply “gazing direction”.
This is when the photo’s subject directs its views to a particular spot in an area, making you look at the same location.
It eventually leads all around the piece until you finally fall back to where you started.
It can be overt, or it can be subtle.
11 – Symmetry
Symmetry often refers to the harmonious balance represented in a piece.
A popular kind of symmetry is when people divide a photo in half, and you can see that they are both equal in shape.
This is called the line of symmetry and is very popular among those working closely in the beauty industry.
With regards to symmetry in design, humans have an instinctive inclination to this aspect.
As the human eye is quickly drawn to the natural balance that is translated visually by design elements, it leads to the premise that indeed, symmetry is the epitome of beauty.
Symbols or icons had already existed even before letters were translated to words.
Symmetry has always been part of human existence.
We create these types of design elements to describe emotion.
It’s incredible to think that symmetry shows how communication through design is effective.
Symmetrical design crosses all these variations and bonds elements and objects images together to imply something beautiful.
A symmetrical world is ideal, but humans find happiness in the natural, so it is nice to have a good sense of balance between design terms, which can be achieved through or with the use of various materials and a vast array of techniques and circumstances.
Not everyone is born with talent or has the creativity to put the elements of art together to develop a good art piece or visual content.
Whether you are a professional designer or an individual seeking employment, learning the basic principles and elements of art is necessary.
Anyone can create a work of art; the Internet has made it easier and accessible for people to do whatever they want.
People who are interested in traditional art can watch tutorial videos on Youtube.
Others who want to try their hand at digital art have purchased drawing tablets or utilise their iPads to do what they need.
Others have used different internet applications to help them get started on what they need to do.
There are many free online photo editing tools to start your creativity.
Consistency is key!
When creating any form of art, it’s good to work on your craft consistently.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a novice working on a pen and paper artwork or a coder using HTML and CSS to create a drawing.
When you’re continually making art, you are giving yourself the experience and skills needed to become a better artist.
Take the elements of art provided above and do more research.
After all, art is subjective, and you can create whatever you want.
Of course, it’s essential to learn the fundamentals, but it’s also a good thing to make the thing that makes us happy.
Author Bio: Jenn is an experienced web and UI/UX designer. She loves to write and share her ideas about design trends and tips to inspire and motivate other designers. She is the Marketing Head of an AI technology company; her team develops innovative platforms for creatives and eCommerce. Removal.AI – free online image editor is one of the AI tools they recently launched. It offers a quick and easy way to remove background in different images so you can use the subject – a great & useful tool to start creating art.