Studying the basic elements of visual design is very important for beginners, as these make up the foundation of a successful composition in the end. This applies to any kind of design whether it’s photography, graphic, industrial design or architecture. What also needs to be taken into consideration is the correct combination of these exact elements, thus making sure the design is original and unique.
None of the elements is recommended to be omitted and special attention should be paid to each and one of them. So this is what this article will cover – the basic elements of visual design, that in the end would result into a neat composition. I will shortly describe all of them for you to get a better understanding.
Space is the distance or area between or around the objects of a composition. It might have two (i.e. length and width) or three dimensions. All the objects represented in a three dimensional space have depth and volume. Space can be positive or negative. Positive space is defined by the existence of shapes and forms, while negative space is the empty space around shapes and forms.
You all know that a line represents a path between two points – that’s elementary geometrics. This is also one of the basic elements of visual design as lines suggest motion, direction and orientation and they also might visually split space. Lines can be curved, straight, horizontal, vertical, zigzag or diagonal and what’s important about them in design is that they can lead the viewer’s eye towards whatever you would like to highlight.
Basically a shape is the result of the meeting of two lines. In design, shapes can be geometric (i.e. circles, squares, triangles) and organic (the shape of a leaf, a shell, a flower etc.). A good contrast example between these two types of shapes can be seen in landscape design – the natural shape of trees in contrast with the geometric shape of a house for instance.
In visual design, color is basically used to get the attention of the viewer towards a certain object. Colors evoke emotions and they directly affect the viewer when looking at them. Research shows that colors have a direct impact on the human’s nervous system, thus they should be chosen carefully when used in a composition.
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Texture refers to the surface of an object and how the eye perceives it. Texture can be tactile or implied. Tactile texture is when you can actually feel the surface of the object and you can easily tell what the surface is made of (sandpaper, fur, cotton balls etc). While implied texture is the way the surface looks like it feels; thus it might look rough or sandy and you can tell it just when seeing it, but you can’t actually touch it.
Form is different from shape and it refers to three dimensional objects. You can measure its depth, height and width and you can get it by joining 2 or more shapes. It can be enhanced by changing its color or texture. There are two types of form – geometric or man-made and natural (i.e. organic). Form is defined by light and dark.
7. Light and Dark
When the light from a source hits an object, the “affected” part is lighted, while the other part of the object is in shadow. The light and dark areas of an object provide a certain contrast, hence suggesting the volume of an object. This is how you can get depth of field while designing or photographing different objects.
All in all these are the basic elements of visual design and I strongly recommend to take them into consideration, as learning the basics is utmost important. Mastering the basics will help you a lot in the decision-making processes in any aspects of visual design in order to get the perfect composition. I would also strongly recommend viewing other artwork of artists that have successfully gathered all the elements into a neat composition. This will help you get a better visual understanding and get you prepared and inspired for your own original pieces of art.