The 8 Design Principles

Here are the definition of 8 principles of design (according to an article from Allen Memorial Art Museum):


A principle of design that indicates movement, created by the careful placement of repeated elements in a work of art to cause a visual tempo or beat.

Subject is consistent and shows continuity of pattern.

Rhythm 8

(w.eras, Flickr)


A way of combining elements to add a feeling of equilibrium or stability to a work of art. Major types are symmetrical and asymmetrical.

Subject is centralised accompanied by straight line/curves within the frame.


(. ♦ F L F ♦ .Flickr)

Emphasis (contrast)

A way of combining elements to stress the differences between those elements.

Elements pop out to differentiate from one another.


(Sam-Cox, Flickr)


A principle of design that refers to the relationship of certain elements to the whole and to each other.

Subjects are compared in different heights and sizes.

Image from page 209 of "Varia conmensuracion para le escultura y arquitectura" (1675)

(Internet Archive Book Image, Flickr)


A way of combining elements by using a series of gradual changes in those elements. (large shapes to small shapes, dark hue to light hue, etc)

Subject grows in a certain direction, evolving and changing its form.


(karin uu, Flickr)


A way of combining similar elements in an artwork to accent their similarities (achieved through use of repetitions and subtle gradual changes)

Subject is drawn with similar strokes/tone, sense of belonging between lines.


(Heike Andrea Grote, Flickr)


A principle of design concerned with diversity or contrast. Variety is achieved by using different shapes, sizes, and/or colors in a work of art.

Many subjects are drawn together with contrasting, randomised styles.

Moleskine illustration #65: random plusses, arrows, clouds, sunshine, droplets

(Lex Wilson, Flickr)


A principle of design used to create the look and feeling of action and to guide the viewer’s eye throughout the work of art.

Subject directs viewer’s eyes to a specific space in the frame.

Green & Red

(– Hob –, Flickr)

While researching for illustration examples, I realised that these principles occur simultaneously. For instance, the last design for Movement also carries the principle of Gradation – gradual change in scale. These identities create cohesion in lines and allow illustration to appear ‘visual pleasing’.



(Re)contextualising Images

_DSC0804Composition: Extreme Close-up

Anchor: Waiting.

Relay: What should I eat later?



_DSC0743-min Composition: Extreme Long Shot

Anchor: NTU, School of Art, Design and Media, Basement one

Relay: Where are my friends.


_DSC0762Composition: Medium Long Shot

Anchor: 7 September 2015. 4PM. Rather warm. School’s empty.

Relay: I think she hates me.


2D Project 1: Lines (FINAL)

Theses are my take on the 18 emotions using lines and dots.









bizzare-min lyrical-min




awkward-min  distracted-min  spontaneous-min


Systematic, ambiguous and turbulent are some of the more well-liked designs by my classmates. I shared the process of doing systematic and psychotic during the presentation since it’s more compelling to share my selection of uncommon medium.

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And here are some of my favourite ones by my classmates!

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Artists: (clockwise from top left) Grace, Li Ying, Shoki, Xin Hong


Studying with shapes, textures, scale and value has embedded me with a sense of courage to make use of anything and everything I see to create art. Tangible medium are used to craft intangible art, which takes on any forms moulded by our hands. Therefore it is essential for artists to explore and experiment with no limitations.

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2D Project 1: Lines (Process)

A line is a dot that went for a walk.

Dot is simple. Line is an extension of a dot. But what happens when emotions are implied into a dot?

Based on the Cambridge dictionary, here are the definitions of 18 emotions: 

To further explore the meaning of words, I grouped them together according to their characteristics while adding my personal descriptions. Definitions2

Draft 01

More adjectives are added during my first sketching. This helps me to recall personal experiences/objects relating to that particular emotion before transcending it into drawings.

Medium used: pencil, markers, charcoal stick

Artist research

Understanding these emotions based on word descriptions had me stuck onto one pictorial design on repetition. Hence, I went back to the featured artists that we previously researched on for more inspiration.

research01-minresearch02-minHere are some artworks that stand out to me. I identified their design principles before listing down related emotions. These directed me to imply principles, like contrast and emphasis, in my next round of ideation.

Draft 02

First attempt was rather conservative with minimal medium used. Also, there were too many repetition of shapes and patterns. I decided to move away from drawing with literal meanings while injecting more imaginative lines. New medium are introduced to create textures and add in some fun to the process.

Medium used: pencils, markers, charcoal stick, chinese ink, rubber cement, milk, strings



Second attempt was more exciting and easier to generate new designs. The following emotions have allowed me to explore lines with hands-on experiments.

Psychotic – milk and heat

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Turbulent – charcoal and rubber cement

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systematic – sewing



The finalised 18 designs were mounted upon completion. I choose to present them in A3 format for its height (60mm) that allows me to work comfortably at a wider scale, with a focal point in the centre.

IMG_7582 IMG_7583 IMG_7584 IMG_7587

(see final artwork here)



4D Project 1B: Thinking Sequentially

Fire and Ice by Robert Frost
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Frost discusses the two human characteristics, desire and hate, with extreme. Either with desire passionate as fire or hate cold as ice, they are equally destructive to the world. This is my take on the poem.




Images are to be viewed from top to down, conjoined by thin threads if you would take a closer look.
1 CAUSEIt all started in a human’s mind.


2 FIREOne person is all it takes. Desire for existence.


4 CONNECTORRise of a new empire becomes the fall of another.


3 ICE Hatred crawls and swallows the living slowly, corroding its soul.


5 RUINSRuins stays on to remind thousands of sacrifice, and would suffice.


*All photos were taken by me


Photo sequence begins with a face, flows down to two human emotions – desire (left) and hatred (right) which are tied together through the doors of connector (center). Both emotions are placed at the same level for an equality of presence. It is completed with the shot of rubbles – the aftermath of powerful emotion collision by human beings. White threads (drawn digitally) outline the complexity of one’s thoughts. Prose is written below every still images to help viewer understand better.

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”  Mahatma Gandhi

It only takes one person’s idea to disseminate to the community. The power of unity then intensifies the emotions – desire/hatred, surges through everyone’s mind with belief. It is unstoppable, inevitable. A desire to change or create causes the other end to balance out with suppression. Therefore we can say that fire and ice tie in strongly with each other, both capable of creating chaos and ruins to the world.

As we look at the 21st century world, fire and ice are constantly colliding. Wars have cornered refugees to fled from their homelands, by sea and land. Here, the desire of political groups fighting to conquer lands has sprouted hatred amidst countries. 300,000 refugees (as of August 2015, according to UNHCR) flocking to Europe are the result of fire and ice.


4D Project 1A: Picture Story – Curating Self

Me // Remembering my roots

I was busy growing up until I realised, so much has changed. A decade later, most of my childhood friends have already moved, the playground we used to hang out is tearing down soon. We are all grown ups now. Have you ever been struck with a sudden assertion, that we are already embarking onto a new life journey?


Photos were taken with extreme long shot and extreme close-up compositions. First shot was intended to capture the landscape, which creates an overview outline for the following shots. The rest are taken with extreme close-up to create personal intimacy with the viewer.

Object, kanken // Adventure

I decided to use my backpack as the signifier of adventure for its traits – sturdy and functional. It has travelled with me around the world for two years. We met new people, got lost (very often) and been through bad and good episodes together. Here, you can see me exploring the space with my bag. Like the kanken, I want to be ever ready and flexible in seizing new opportunities ahead of me.



Photos were taken with long and low angle compositions. To show the relationship between me and the bag, long shot is used to capture the interactions. Last photo is taken at low angle to put emphasis on the bag while keeping me in frame subtly at the back.

My World // See it yourself

Old place, new beauty. I went with a fantasy approach to present a mundane part of Singapore in a hypnotic way. This series invited me to explore space in an alternate perspective. With gut feeling, you might discover something others have missed. So there you have it, a world of your own.


Photos were taken with long shot, rule of third, extreme close up and high angle compositions. Since the location is huge with random trees and architectures, I decided to crop the first photo (taken in long shot) to eliminate distractions. Also, second and third photo are filtered black and white to taper optical focus into primitive shapes and shadows of objects. The fourth photo is shot with extreme close up and last one is cropped to instil mysterious mood for the viewers.

My Takeaway

Selection of compositions is very important to create the right mood before you can convey your messages through the objects. Framing photos in sequence can manipulate viewer’s eyes to follow the story flow, be it horizontally or vertically.

Self curation made me understand that everyone grow up in our own unique ways – it’s like existing on earth in different shapes and colours. Be up for adventures, soar through the air until you find the perfect landing.

Research Artist

Sally Mann is one of my favourite abstract art photographer. Extreme close up composition and monochrome are ultilised to focus on texture and shape of the objects.

Early Work, Platinium, 1978-1980
Early Work, Platinium, 1978-1980
Family Pictures, 1984-1991
Family Pictures, 1984-1991

More photos can be found here.

Martin Parr‘s photo series of The Georgia State Fair (2010) draws me attention with its natural and candid poses of the protagonists. He composed with close up shot with head and body to show interaction of the human and object.

USA. Atlanta. The Georgia State Fair. Fast food. 2010.
USA. Atlanta. The Georgia State Fair. Fast food. 2010.
USA. Atlanta. Turner Field. Pre-game tailgating at the home of The Atlanta Braves professional baseball club. 2010.
USA. Atlanta. Turner Field. Pre-game tailgating at the home of The Atlanta Braves professional baseball club. 2010.

More photos can be found here.

Cindy Sherman‘s Kitchen series shows housewives working in the kitchen. Her eyes seem to be looking away from the camera, looking distracted as she carried on with housework. Sherman also made use of body language to convey the activities of the character she role played in. 

Untitled Film Still, 1977-1980
Untitled Film Stills, 1977-1980
Untitled Film Stills, 1977-1980
Untitled Film Stills, 1977-1980

More photo curation can be found here.

Final Presentation

To guide viewer through my sequence, I divided them into three column, but near enough to continue the flow of the story. It is placed along the staircase with intention for viewer to walk through the journey with me, from left to right. The sequence gradually descends with the staircase at the viewer’s eye level. This eventually leads to the white wall, an empty canvas for individual to continue the story with imagination.

The feedback from my peers suggested that the last photo of first series (close up shot of wrist in monochrome) was unclear to connect with the next series. This was perhaps due to my lack of presentation skill to perpetuate from first to second series.

Overall, My World series was most well-liked by my classmates. I guess these photos had brought them to a fantasy world, away from the busy and stressful reality for a while.

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