The Building Blocks of Design

To understand Design, We need to explore the tools of design and how to use them. First, the tools of art, Elements of Art.


A path created by a moving point, mark or object.
Line can be straight, swirly, wavy, jagged, dotted, dashed, broken, thick, thin,  zig zag, diagonal, vertical, horizontal, curved, bold, parallel or perpendicular

A path created by a moving point, mark or object.
A two-dimensional (2D), flat enclosed area. When a line crosses over itself it creates a shape.

A three-dimensional shapes expressing length, width, and depth. Balls, cylinders, boxes, and pyramids are forms

The area between and around or within objects. Positive space refers to the part of the artwork that takes up space. Negative space is the area around that object

The light reflected off of objects consisting of three main Characteristics: Hue,Value and Intensity

The surface quality that can be seen and felt. Textures can be rough or smooth, soft or hard and may not feel the way they look.

Now that we know the Elements of Art which are the tools in design, we can move on to the Principles of Design which show you how to use these tools


A way of combining elements to add a feeling of equilibrium or stability to a work of art. Major types are symmetrical and asymmetrical. This is largely similar to balance in Physics.

A way of combining elements by using a series of gradual changes in those elements.
i.e. Large shapes to small shapes, dark hue to light hue etc.

Illusion of Movement when some elements recur regularly. This can also seem to be like the beat of music or a dance

Harmony and unity
A way of combining similar elements in an artwork to accent their similarities, usually achieved through use of repetitions and subtle Gradual Changes


The juxtaposition of opposing elements. Variety is achieved by using different shapes, sizes, and/or colors in a work of art. The greater the contrast, the more something will stand out and call attention to itself.

Directional Movement
A visual flow through the composition. This is achieved by using art elements to direct a viewer’s eye along a path through the artwork, and/or to show movement, action and direction.

Center of Interest
Visually reinforcement of something we want the viewer to pay attention to. This is usually s an area that first attracts attention in a composition.

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