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Principles of Design
The principles of design describe how the
elements of art are used or arranged in a
work of art. This is composition.
The principles of design are:
Balance, Contrast, Emphasis,
Movement, Pattern, Rhythm, and
Balance is the arrangement of elements on either
side of a center line. A balanced image has equal
visual weight on either side of this center line, but is
not necessarily symmetrical.
Balance Can be:
If an image is asymmetrically balanced the combined visual
weight of the elements either side of the center line are
A large object can be
balanced by several
Several objects that
are different but are
similar in size can
A large simple object
can be balanced by a
smaller more complex
When balance is symmetrical the image can be folded over a center line and
the sides will match up exactly. Symmetrical balance can be horizontal,
vertical or radial.
can be folded over a
horizontal center line.
can be folded evenly
over a vertical
Radial Symmetry can
be folded over a
horizontal or vertical
center line evenly.
Refers to the differences between elements of art. The greater
the difference the higher the contrast. The less difference the
lower the contrast. Contrast can be the difference between
values, colors (temperature or saturation), lines or shapes
(organic/ geometric or size). Even texture can show contrast
between rough an smooth.
Color/ Value Contrast
Color contrast is the
Opposite/ Analogous Colors that are
closer to being opposite each other on
the color wheel have the highest
contrast while colors that are closer to
each other or analogous have the
Warm Cool Contrast
The difference between
warm and cool colors
Value Contrast The
light and dark.
Shape and Size Contrast
Shapes can show contrast between organic and geometric
shapes as well as large and small shapes.
Organic/ Geometric Contrast
Artists use Emphasis to show what is the most important part of
an image or to create a focal-point, which is the area in a
composition where your attention is directed. Artist can show
emphasis in many ways including:
Movement is the path your eyes follow along edges, lines
and shapes, often leading your gaze around the composition
and directing you to the focal area of the art work.
Patterns are made when the same shapes or elements are
surround a central
Regular or Planned
Patterns that are
planned and repeated
The parts are
repeated but don’t
RhythmRhythm is the repetition of similar colors, shapes, forms, lines, or values.
Rhythm unifies works of art and can structure the movement of a piece.
Regular Rhythms appear planned and mostly uniform.
Irregular Rhythms appear unplanned and not repeated exactly.
Unity is consistency in a work of art and gives an artwork a finished and
harmonious feel by using similar elements or techniques throughout the
composition. Variety is the use of contrast or difference within a work of art
to create interest.
Unity / Variety
The use of repeated
texture and color
forms, pattern and
texture create unity.
rhythm color and
shapes create unity.