Need to refresh your memory on the basic elements of design? These elements can be isolated and defined in any visual. They are the structure of the work, and can carry a wide variety of messages. So, before tackling any design, Creative Market has created an infographic to help. Check out the ten basic elements below.
Ten basic elements
The line is usually present in every design, even if it is a solid border or a dotted one. The lines can be long, short, curved, thin, thick, dotted, colourful, etc. They’re mostly used for delimitation between different sections of a design, or are used to direct a viewer’s vision in a specific direction.
Probably the most important basic element of a design, colour offers a powerful visual impact in a single glance. Colour creates emotion: red is passionate, blue is calm, green is natural. Even if you don’t realize this, colours have a clear effect on our minds. Therefore colour theory is very important to know.
Shapes are one of the basic elements that add interest to a design. There are an endless variety of shapes and combination of shape, each with its own meaning and message. There are three types of shapes: geometric, which have a consistent structure; natural shapes are more random; and abstract shapes, such as icons and graphics
Space and how it is used is crucially important in design. It has a lot to do with how a design is perceived by the human eye. Therefore, if there is a lot of negative space in your design, it offers light and an open feeling. However, the lack of negative space will give your designs a tighter feel. It can turn a design to your advantage and get the best out of your layout.
Unlike the feel of real objects, in graphic design texture is generally only a visual thing. But it creates a physical illusion and it continues to play a leading role as one of the basic elements in any design. Layers of text, shapes and lines can bring about the feeling of texture on a page or on screen. Photography, illustration, combined with other basic elements can also help to achieve the appearance of texture.
Words are important, but their style is equally essential. In communicating a message, a balance has to be achieved between the visual and the verbal aspects of a design. Sometimes, however, designers explore the visual aspect of typography to a much greater extent than the verbal. In these cases, the visual does all the talking. See the difference between a font and a typeface.
7. Size / Scale
In graphic design, size is used to convey importance, attract attention and create contrast. Size/scale has a strong effect on the user, making it no surprise that larger elements have a stronger impact when next to small ones.
8. Dominance and Emphasis
These two principles are together because they are strongly linked. Dominance prioritizes the importance of different elements in a design. The more dominant element will attract the eye and get noticed first. Identical items can’t dominate each other, so to exert dominance an element has to look different from the elements it’s meant to dominate. Remember, you can’t emphasize everything or it defeats the point.
Symmetrical balance distributes visual weight evenly in a design. If you draw a line straight through the middle of a design, the visual balance would be evenly distributed. An asymmetrical composition is intended to create a deliberate imbalance of the elements in the design. It can create tension and give your composition a sense of movement.
In any design you create, whether it’s a logo or a brochure, needs to have strong harmony. All elements in your design should fit together and feel like they all belong. If your design isn’t harmonious, then it’s disjointed.
Daniel is an Art Director and Graphic Designer with over a decade of experience in advertising and marketing in the Greater Toronto Area.