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Elements of Art & Principles of Design

Elements of Art & Principles of Design

The 7 Elements of Art

The elements of art are the "building blocks" of art. This is the vocabulary we use to describe works of art. 

Line A path created by a moving point, mark or object. It is a dot that takes a walk. A line can be straight, swirly, wavy, jagged, dotted, dashed, broken, thick, thin, zig zag, diagonal, vertical, horizontal, curved, bold, parallel or perpendicular.

Shape A two-dimensional (2D), flat enclosed area. When a line crosses over itself it creates a shape. Examples of shapes could be geometric, organic/natural, irregular, circle, square, rectangle, diamond, oval, crescent, heart, triangle, octagon.

Color The element of art derived from reflected or absorbed light. Color adds interest and mood to a work of art. It is also referred to as "Hue". The primary colors are red, yellow and blue. The secondary colors are created by mixing the primary colors. They are purple (violet), orange and green.

Texture How something feels or looks like it would feel if you could touch it. There are two kinds of texture: Real (how something actually feels, such as a sculpture) and Implied (when an artist paints or draws a texture but it is artificial).

Form Objects having three dimensions (3D), or height, width, and depth. You can walk around a form. Examples of form can include cubes, cylinders, and spheres.

Value The lightness or darkness of an object; the degree of lightness or darkness in a piece of art; or the effect of light and shade on objects in a picture. Value vocabulary includes tint (adding white to make something lighter), shade (adding black to make something darker) and hue (the true color). Shadow, highlight, and light source are also some vocabulary words to consider with this element of art.

Space The element of art that refers to the emptiness or area around or within objects. Positive space refers to the part of the artwork that takes up space. Negative space is the area around that object. This element of art also refers to the "parts" of the picture... Foreground, Middle ground and Background!
 Principles of Design

Balance is the distribution of the visual weight of objects, colors, texture, and space. If the design was a scale, these elements should be balanced to make a design feel stable. In symmetrical balance, the elements used on one side of the design are similar to those on the other side; in asymmetrical balance, the sides are different but still look balanced. In radial balance, the elements are arranged around a central point and may be similar.

Emphasis is the part of the design that catches the viewer’s attention. Usually the artist will make one area stand out by contrasting it with other areas. The area could be different in size, color, texture, shape, etc.

Movement is the path the viewer’s eye takes through the work of art, often to focal areas. Such movement can be directed along lines, edges, shape, and color within the work of art.

Pattern is the repeating of an object or symbol all over the work of art.

Repetition works with pattern to make the work of art seem active. The repetition of elements of design creates unity within the work of art.

Proportion is the feeling of unity created when all parts (sizes, amounts, or number) relate well with each other. When drawing the human figure, proportion can refer to the size of the head compared to the rest of the body.

Rhythm is created when one or more elements of design are used repeatedly to create a feeling of organized movement. Rhythm creates a mood like music or dancing. To keep rhythm exciting and active, variety is essential.

Variety is the use of several elements of design to hold the viewer’s attention and to guide the viewer’s eye through and around the work of art.

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