PROJECT 2 Research

The 9 Principles of Design

  1. Scale
  2. Variety
  3. Balance
  4. Contrast
  5. Rhythm
  6. Harmony
  7. Dominance
  8. Proportion
  9. Pattern

1. Scale

Scale is the size of elements against each other. When describing scale, it should be in relation to something else (e.g. Reality, viewer)

Some words to describe scale:

Large, small, miniature, monumental

Boy by Ron Mueck

Ron Mueck, Boy, 1999, Mixed Media, 490 x 490 x 240 cm

Here, the humans are miniature in relation to the sculpture. And, the sculpture itself is monumental as compared to the humans.


Duane Hanson, Queenie II, 1988, Polychrome Bronze, with accessories, life-size

This hyper realist sculpture by Duane Hanson is life-size, creating an illusion of reality.


2. Variety

Variety is the individuality to arouse the viewer’s curiosity and hold one’s attention, visual contrast, isolation of elements and images.

Some words to describe variety is:

Visual interest is created by… or The change in texture creates variety…

Compostion with RYB by Piet Mondrian

Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue by Piet Mondrian, 1921, Oil on Canvas, 39 x 35 cm

For Mondrian, he used a variety of lines (horizontal and vertical), shapes (square and rectangle) and primary colours (red, blue and yellow) to create a visually appealing design.


3. Balance

Balance is the distribution of the visual weight of objects, colors, texture, and space.

Symmetrical balance – ‘mirror image’

Asymmetrical balance – different components positioned in the same manner on either sides of the axis

Radial balance – elements are arranged around a central point

Day and Night by M.C. Escher

M.C. Escher, Day and Night, 1938, Woodcut in two colours

In this work, the artist has employed approximate symmetrical balance, whereby there are different components positioned in the same manner on either sides of the axis.

A Thousand Years by Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst, A Thousand Years, 1990, Glass, Steel, Silicone, rubber, painted MDF, insect-o-cutter, cow’s head, blood, flies, maggots, 2075 x 4000 x 2150 mm

Here, the artist use asymmetrical balance, where different objects are placed in each panels.


4.  Contrast

Contrast is the placing of elements with opposing characteristics, totally unrelated.

Space – filled vs empty, 2D vs 3D, Near vs Far

Pattern – Left vs Right, Isolated vs Grouped

Form – Single vs Complex, Whole vs Broken

Structure – Organised vs Chaotic, Mechanic vs Hand-drawn

Size – Big vs Small

Texture – Smooth vs Rough, Sharp vs Dull

Density – Transparent vs Opaque, Thick vs Thin

Girl with a Boat by Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso, Girl with a Boat, 1938, Oil on canvas

In this work, Picasso created contrast in forms with the use of geometric, angular shapes vs curves. Also, a contrast in colour with black and white.


5. Rhythm

Rhythm is the sense of movement created by repeating elements.

Wave of Kanagawa by Katsushika

Katsushika Hokusai, Under the wave of Kanawaga, 1829-33, Coloured woodblock print, 26.7 x 38.1 cm

6. Harmony

Harmony is the feeling of unity between all parts of the work of art, which creates a sense of completeness.

Artist and Model by Liu Kang

Liu Kang, Artist and Model, 1954

Liu Kang created a harmonious atmosphere with use of light colours, with no or little dark colours.

7. Dominance

Dominance is the part of the design that catches the viewer’s attention.

The Treachery of Images by Rene Magritte

Rene Magritte, The Treachery of Images, 1929


8. Proportion

Proportion is the unity created when all parts (sizes, amounts, or number) are in relation to each other.

Proportion of Human, Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci, Proportion of the Human Figure, 1485-90, Pen and ink

Golden section

Mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci- Fibonacci series

Spiral Stair

Rose 3

Relationship of spiraling curve found in nature

9. Pattern

Pattern is created by repeating designs motifs or elements.

Self-Portrait by Chuck CLose

Chuck Close, Self-Portrait, 2004-2005

Patterns are created with the use of organic shapes within squares.

Golconda by Rene Magritte

Rene Magritte, Golconda, 1953, Oil on canvas, 81 x 100 cm

By repeating the man, the artist creates an overwhelming feeling/ effect. There is also a sense of movement created with the dropping of the man as it reminds us of raindrops.