Design Elements and Principles


Designing your own graphics and artwork can be a difficult thing. Whether you’re
needing art for your website, business cards or even a t-shirt you want to be sure that you’re
creating the best version possible. There are a lot of different terms for a lot of different aspects
of design. From easy ones like lines, scale and color to more advanced concepts like negative
space, hierarchy and composition. Hopefully this article will help you understand some basic
concepts to help you get started.

Let’s start off with the term ‘line’. This is a term that is relatively easy and if you are not familiar with the world of design is a pretty good place to start. Pretty much everything is made of lines. There are different feelings that you can evoke depending on how you choose to use your lines. For example, the article called “Design Elements and Principles” by Mary Stribley, states that “Straight ones can evoke order and nearness, wavy lines can create movement, and zig-zagged lines can imply tension or excitement.” The use of lines is something you might take for granted. Next time you look at a graphic, notice their use of lines and what they are trying to portray in their use of lines.

Next, we’ll talk about scale. Scale can help you tell what is the most important thing about the graphic. For example, if you look at a sign in a store that is telling you about a sale, the word sale is probably going to be a lot bigger than that of the words telling you that it’s a sale of only 50% off. They want you first to know that there is a sale going on and the secondary information is that it’s 50% off.

Negative space is a concept that is a little more advanced than ones we have been talking about previously in this article. Stribley’s article explains negative space as “the ‘space in between’, the area between or around other elements that form its own shape.” Negative space can be used to really emphasize different aspects of your designs. By using one shape you can make another pop out and catch the eye

Color is obviously an important part of any design or graphic. According to that same article, “Color creates specific moods, atmospheres, channels emotions and each shade has certain specific connotations associated with it. In short, color can make or break your design.” This is true especially when you are trying to catch the eyes of a certain demographic. For example, if you were designing a graphic for a new power tool, you would probably use more primary colors or colors that would more relate to masculinity. If you were trying to advertise for a women’s clothing line, you would use colors more relatable to women.

Lastly, we will be touching on composition. Composition is basically how everything we have previously talked about comes together to reveal the end product. You can use everything mentioned above to create your unique graphics and bring to life what you truly want to portray to your audience.

Hierarchy is a little bit like scale. It also helps you really tell your audience what is important. This is especially important if you have anything listed on your graphic. The more important words would be bigger, at the top, while the less important words would be listed underneath and smaller. The more important words would also be more “dressed up” or fancier in order to show you that they are at the top of the hierarchy.

There are many more elements of design that you can use to really stand out and be a
one of a kind graphic designer. These are just a few that you can start utilizing in your work. The
combinations of different elements are truly infinite. By knowing a little more about each one you
can make consistently outstanding graphics, advertisements, and articles that will impress and

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