The 7 Elements of Art and Design

If you are one of my followers on Instagram, you might have noticed my little mini-series I had recently called ‘The 7 Elements of Art & Design’. The elements - line, shape, colour, form, value, space and texture - are the building blocks used in any art or design making. You can’t create a design or an artwork without using at least one of the seven elements, and most of the time several of them are used together (the elements often overlap as well).

The concepts might seem simple, but to achieve good design, it’s important to use them in a thought through way as they can all impact the look and feel of your art or design work.


Line

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A line is defined by a point moving in space. There are an endless number of ways a line could look like - it can be two-or three-dimensional, descriptive, implied, or abstract. It can be horizontal, vertical, wavy or diagonal. A line can be used in different ways to create various effects for the viewer - for example, a soft and curvy line generally suggests softness and comfort, where as an uneven, scribbly kind of line suggests chaos and uncertainty. 


Shape

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In art, shapes play a very important role in how art is created. Shapes can have lots of different meanings - for example triangles can help draw the eye to a particular point, while circles often represent continuity. 


There are two categories of shapes - geometric and organic. A geometric shape (like a square or circle) is precise and mathematical, whereas organic shapes are usually more abstract and often inspired from nature. Personally, I love using different types of shape in my designs / both geometrical and organic. 


Colour

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Colours have the power to affect our emotions and mood in different ways. They’re built up of three main characteristics— hue (blue, red, yellow etc), value (light to dark) and intensity (spectrum of bright and dark) - all important factors to what the final colour will look like.

The colour wheel is used to classify colours into three categories: primary (red, yellow, blue), secondary (green, orange, purple), and tertiary (red-violet, blue-green, etc.). By drawing a line through the middle of colour wheel you separate warm colours (reds, oranges, yellows) from the cool (blue, greens, purples). Different colours are associated with different things/moods, so it's important to understand when and how to use different colours in art and design. 


Form

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A form is a shape that is three dimensional, or gives the illusion of having that effect. A form, just like a shape, can be geometric (cubes, spheres, pyramids etc) or organic (anything else three dimensional really!). In graphic design, forms is a good way to add more depth to a flat design, and it's developed over the years from more realistic illusions (inc. gradients) to today's designs which generally are more minimalistic and subtle. (for example the envelope icon in Gmail). 


Value

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Value is closely related to colour, by being the lightness and darkness of a colour. The difference between the lights and darks is defined as contrast. The value of colours in art & design can have a big impact the mood - strong contrasts can often be seen as having a dramatic effect for example, where as using similar values (less contrast) makes an artwork appear more soft. 


Value also play a big importance in photography in the way light and shadows are used. (I love playing around with values & contrasts both in design and photography - above, a portrait of my littlest ❤️) 


Space

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In art as well as design, space refers how your artwork is arranged. It also refers to a feeling of depth; the relationships between foreground, background and middle ground can be used to create a three dimensional illusion to a flat image. 


Other ways of using space is thinking about how the positive space vs the negative space is used (positive being the subject, and negative space the area around it). In graphic design this is something that's important to think about when for example designing a logo, so that you get a good balance in the design. 


Texture

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Texture is a description of how something feels or looks like it would feel. In physical art & design this could be different materials such as fur, leather, stone etc, or the type of paper you use for a brochure or business card (actual texture). In digital art & graphic design it's the illusion of a texture, which can be achieved by using for example photography or Photoshop. Adding a texture to digital art can create depth and meaning to a otherwise flat design. 

So there you have it - the 7 elements of art and design. Hopefully you have found it insightful perhaps it will be useful the next time you’re creating an artwork or a design!