You are on page 1of 5

2-D Design / Erika Lizée / Fall 2012

Principles of Design
Study Guide
UNITY / VARIETY UNITY: The degree of agreement existing among the elements of a design. Unity suggests that parts of a composition are not there by chance, they fit together to form a meaningful whole. Unity comes with some degree of variety. Excessive unity can become monotonous, and excessive variety can become chaotic. VARIETY: The differences that give a design visual and conceptual interest. Variety can be used within Unity to interrupt the harmony of a design with an element that strays from the dominant composition. Variety is seductive, intriguing. Variety breaks up the blandness, the sameness of unity. It turns the predictable on edge. Similarities between visual elements increases unity, difference increase variety. Ways to achieve Unity / Variety PROXIMITY: The degree of closeness in the placement of elements. The elements may even be ‘physically’ touching each other. Their closeness can be reinforced with repetition of lines, shapes and color. REPETITION: Using the same visual element over again within the same composition. Repetition can be used to create unity in a composition, produce a rhythmic movement or emphasize the importance of a visual idea. The eye has a tendency to search for and pick out common shapes, colors, textures, lines, etc. CONTINUITY: The visual relationship between compositional parts. Continuity uses the flow of line or contour or the continuous transition from one shape to another to lead the viewer’s eye from one part of the composition to another. THE GRID: A network of horizontal and vertical intersecting lines that divide spaces and create a framework of areas. The grid is an amazing unifying device--the pattern and repetition of lines of the grid is its strength. The grid holds everything together through a mathematical sequence. COLOR/VALUE: Complex designs can be unified through color or value. For example by using a monochromatic or achromatic color scheme.

BALANCE BALANCE: The equilibrium of opposing or interacting forces in a pictorial composition. Balance can be used by artists to control the distribution or emphasis of visual elements within a composition. Balance relates to visual weight—the goal is to place objects within your composition to create a balanced feeling based on their visual weight. ACTUAL BALANCE: Balance that is needed and achieved by the distribution of the actual weight in 3D artwork. PICTORIAL BALANCE: Balance that refers to the distribution of the apparent visual weight of the elements in a 2D composition. This is the type of balance that we will refer to here and in our work. VISUAL WEIGHT: The way shapes may seem to float or sink based on their solidity and location within a composition. Solid shapes generally weigh more than open shapes, objects that are in the upper half tend to rise while those below tend to sink. Types of Balance SYMMETRICAL: A quality of a composition or form wherein there is a precise correspondence of elements on either side of a center (horizontal or vertical) axis or point. We identify with symmetrical balance because the human figure breaks down symmetrically. It is very common in architecture, furniture, clothing, corporate logos etc. Easily feels complete and whole in a design. RADIAL: A composition in which all visual elements are balanced around and radiate from a central point. Commonly found in nature, flowers, plants, tree rings, etc.

ALLOVER: A composition in which each part has equal visual weight. Usually gives off the feeling of a pattern.

ASYMMETRICAL: Balance achieved with dissimilar objects that have equal visual weight or equal eye attention. Usually highly dynamic, generating a lot of energy between the elements.

Ways to achieve Asymmetrical Balance: VALUE and COLOR: High contrast values or contrasting colors can provide visual weight. SHAPE and TEXTURE: Shapes are often used to offset other shapes. Texture can also be used in this way. POSITION: The placement of objects of varying visual weights. Begin by thinking of your format and how that will affect the placement of objects within the frame. Note samples of how to create asymmetrical balance in textbook.

RHYTHM RHYTHM: The repetition of multiple parts to create a pattern of positive/negative, sound/silence or other contrasting forces. Think of visual rhythm in terms of musical rhythm: Meter: the basic pattern of sound and silence. Accents: the emphasis on certain notes. Tempo: the speed at which the music is played. Visual rhythm can be regular or syncopated just like music. REGULAR REPETITION: A means of creating rhythm in which elements are duplicated at an orderly or fixed interval.

ALTERNATING REPETITION: A type of rhythm in which different elements in a work repeat themselves in a predictable, alternating order.

PROGRESSIVE REPETITION: A type of rhythm in which elements in a work change slightly as they move or progress toward a defined point in the composition.

PATTERN: A design composed of repeated elements that are usually varied to produce interconnections and implied movement. We worked with pattern during our texture project and the relationship between texture and pattern is strong. Patterns have the strength to unify a composition and can serve as a background image. Often it is used to decorate or embellish a design. Pattern is used all over the place, wallpapers, books, fabrics, etc. The textile industry is based around patterns, created through the texture of the fabric, or a designed pattern.

SCALE/PROPORTION SCALE: The size relationship between two separate objects. The term size is used when we are talking about specific measurements. Scale is used when we are talking about something in relation to something else, either other similar things or things around them. Scale provides a frame of reference, rather than just giving numbers/measurements. Scale can add meaning—making something larger/smaller than life-size. PROPORTION: Size measured against other elements or against a mental norm or standard. Used most frequently with the reproduction of the human form— making things looks right—in proportion to the human body. How you represent the human figure can affect how the viewer thinks about that person.

EMPHASIS / FOCAL POINT EMPHASIS: Special attention given to some aspect of a composition, which gives it prominence. Emphasis gives part of a design particular prominence. Emphasis can also be used to draw the viewer’s eye towards the focal point.

FOCAL POINT: A compositional devise emphasizing a particular area or object to draw attention to the piece and to encourage closer scrutiny of the work. The focal point is a particular part of a composition that holds viewers attention—the eye continuously returns to that area of design; it is the strongest point of interest. Ways to create Emphasis / Focal Points SEPARATION/CONNECTION: Creating and/or breaking visual connections. Any ANOMOLY (break from the norm) tends to stand out. Visually we try to connect things, so when something doesn’t conform it draws attention. Creating a clear pattern and then breaking it up can be effective. LOCATION/PLACEMENT: Where objects or elements are located/placed within a composition. Placement of objects can draw attention and create a focal point. Pay attention to objects around that form as well, using lines, shapes, colors to direct the eye (this is emphasis in action) towards the focal point.

CONTRAST: Contrast is created when two or more forces are in opposition. Using contrast with value or color can be particularly interesting. Light areas against dark create instant recognition from viewer. Use an 80/20 split between the opposing forces you employ, allowing one to dominate and the other to play off it.

ISOLATION: The placement of an image that is separated from a group of similar/different objects.

DIRECTIONAL LINES: Line can be used to direct the viewer’s eye to the focal point of a design.