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Elements of Visual Design

Dr. Janakarajan Ramkumar

Department of Mechanical & Design Program
IIT Kanpur, India.
 Aesthetic Design
 Design Principles
 Product Message
 Visual Design
 Elements of Visual Design
Aesthetic Design

Aesthetic Design is concerned with use of principles of beauty

and psychological expectations of the user.
Factors affecting Aesthetic Design

1. Forms/Shapes (psychology, model making, ease of production etc.)

2. Form Transition( Product theme)
3. Proportions (phi, fractals etc.)
4. Colors (Contrast, similar, graduation, separation etc.)
5. Textures (Contrast, Similar, Graduation, Separation)
6. Product Graphics( Time Style, Basic Psyche)
7. Inclined Curved Lines/Surfaces
Design Principles
1. Function (basic functionality etc.)
2. Concept (logo , modular design, theme etc.)
3. Balance( sym, asym., radial etc.)
4. Direction/Emphasis/Contrast (dominance, fractals etc.)
5. Juxtaposition (unity, variation, pattern, discord etc.)
6. Rhythm (Contrast, Similar, Graduation, Separation)
7. Ratio/ proportions
8. Inclined Curved Lines/Surfaces
Product Message
1. Form follow function (basic functionality etc.)Concept
2. Lightness/ Weight (balance, base, shape, size, color etc.)
3. Stability ( lines, balance etc.)
4. Speed/Motion (direction, dominance etc.)
5. Power/Strength
6. Dominance
Visual Design
• A new method of technical knowledge develops rapidly by
following a scientific discovery.
• Visual Design is an applied art, whereby the principles of visual
communication are used for effective design of product
• Basic element of visual design are form, content, arrangement,
light, and color
• The emotions that drive visual communication are seduction -
conviction – inspiration.
• Visual Techniques Scale, Cropping, Juxtaposition, Abstraction/
magnification, Orientation, typography
Basic Elements of Design
• Point
• Line
• Color
• Shape
• Size
• Mass
• Change
• This is the most basic of elements, manifested in the material
world with just slightly more gusto than a mathematical point.
• Atomic Component of visual Work
• Dimensioning perspective
• A region for the FOCUS for eyes of the viewer
• More no of points creates a shape
• A line is a mark made by a moving point and having
psychological impact according to its direction, weight, and the
variations in its direction and weight.
• Function in both visual and verbal ways.
• It can act as a Symbolic Language
• Lines can be combined to give form & Shapes
• Colour: General terms for the quality of colour, Hue, intensity
and value observed.
• Hue: Name of the colour like red, green and blue etc.
• Chroma: Intensity, strength, or saturation of color,
distinguishing the chromatic colors from black and white.
• Saturation: degree of vividness of a hue from its concentration;
used synonymously with Chroma.
• Value: range from light to dark, including white, grays, and
black; colours can be evaluated on this scale. 0-BLACK 10-
Generally, high values are considered to be light, and low
values dark
Elements of Visual Design continued

Dr. Janakarajan Ramkumar

Department of Mechanical & Design Program
IIT Kanpur, India.
• Terminology :
A "tint" is a given hue with added white.
A "tone" is a given hue with added black.
A "shade" is a given hue with added complement.
Representation using hue:
• Cool Colour Meanings (calming): Blue, Green, Turquoise, Silver
• Warm Color Meanings (exciting): Red, Pink, Yellow, Gold,
• Mixed Cool/Warm Color Meanings: Purple, Lavender, Green,
• Neutral Color Meanings (unifying): Brown, Beige, Ivory, Gray,
Black, White
Colour Wheel:
• Primary Colours
• Secondary Colours
• Complimentary Colours
• Contrasting Colours
• Similar Colours
• Geometric: It represents the shape of the product made from
typical geometric shapes like triangular, square and circular etc.
(Emotionally passive, esthetically decorative, spatial active)

• Natural: The shapes available in the natural shapes and are

used to make the products (Emotionally Active, esthetically
dynamic, spatial depth)

• Abstract: An indicative or abstract shape showing the product

characteristics like logo, cartoons etc (Indicator, Symbol)
Shape Form
• Aspect of Perception (Vertical/Horizontal lines, standard angle)
• Gestalt (German Psychologist), gave the basic principles of
form/shape (Read Gestalt logics )
• Positive-negative space (Theory of Perception)
Increasing size:
1. loftiness, beyond human measure
2. Feeling of specialty/dominance
3. Relative, can be obtained by colour and contrast

Creates illusion:
1. Produce a feeling of depth
2. Feeling of Strength/weight
3. Feeling of power
Aspect of Perception:
1. Mass is implied rather than actual
2. Size implies normally weight Each piece has got its own weight
and then individually weight in the total component
3. To accommodate normal size restraints or expectations
4. To convey a mood or provide emphasis
5. To create contrast
• Change determine the way how the forms/shape, size or mass
are changing with-in the product
• Change can be actual as in case of graphics etc. or it can be
virtual like in cartoons illustrations etc.
• The principles of “Tempo” or “Rhythm” guides the use of change
• Change can be in term of Shape/form, Size, color or value etc.
Task for students
Elements of Visual Design continued

Dr. Janakarajan Ramkumar

Department of Mechanical & Design Program
IIT Kanpur, India.
 Balance
 Proportions
 Emphasis
 Juxtaposition
 Rhythm
 Unity
The Principles of Visual Design
• The principles of design represent the most general classes of
tools available for determining the ideal arrangement of the
elements of design for any given visual work.
The Principles of Visual Design




• It is a principle of design that places elements in such a way
that these elements are evenly distributed. The concept of
balance is fundamental to well-formed design.
• Most of the principals work opposite to each other, hence this
principle basically try to balance
• Three kinds of basic visual design
• Symmetric Balance
• Asymmetric Balance
• Radial Balance
Symmetric Balance:
A balance which is created through the mirror image about an
axis or plane or about two axis or planes etc.
they are further divided into-
1)Horizontal Balance
2)Vertical Balance
3)Horizontal & Vertical Balance

Rules of thirds, visual center and grid must be considered.
Asymmetric Balance:
A balance which is created through the odd or mismatched
figures of elements they are further divided into-
1)All over balance
2)Asymmetric Tension

Radial Balance:
• A balance which is created through the a balance axis
point/Visual Centre/Balance Centre they are further divided
1)Same shape
2)Different shapes
Balance Examples
 It defines the relative size and ratio of the various elements
used in design and hence the relative size of the objects in the
 Where as ratio define the overall size with respect to its
 The relative sizes of things can be adjusted for the purposes of
creating a perspective illusion, exaggerating comparative
apparent attributes, as a message or metaphor, or simply to
achieve a balanced layout in terms of the distribution mass and
• Maintaining proportions
• Surrounding Factor factor (home and public places)
• Over proportions may ruin the basic configurations (Over-
crowded flowers on gown) very standard human body, so all
proportions can be taken by taking this as the reference.
• Use of Golden Ratio and rule of thirds
• Using some visual tension in the product make it more
• Using Fractals and products similarity concepts
• Golden Ratio: A standard ratio that has initiated from old Greek
time and actually a thumb rule for Aesthetics
Proportion Examples
• Self-similarity meaning the building unit contained in the pattern is
the same as the overall completed shape

• Fractals - a shape that is self-similar and has a fractional dimension.
Proportions Examples
• The course or path a viewer's eye will take through a
composition is shaped by actual or implied lines, and actual
or implied geometric shapes
• There are certain points, lines, curves, areas and volumes,
which need utmost attentions from the customers and hence
must be made different or distinct
• A point or area in a product need to be different or separate
from the other, Which can be done with CONTRAST of size,
shape or colour etc.

• Emphasis, also called focus in some schema, is the act of causing

some regions of an image to seem more important than others.
Creating a balanced series of emphases.



• Viewer's eye To contrast is to set elements in definite opposition,

in order to highlight differing attributes
• It reflects the ease with which a product can be made, which is a
measure of how easily a product can be manufactured to
engineering designs, with a premium quality and low investment
in order to maximize profits.
• It contains the flavour of one of the early contributions during
the development of the Product Development process,which
includes the following guidelines:
• Reduction in the number and types of parts and part
• Selection of components having preferred sizes, weights,
materials, near net shapes, etc.
• Ensuring testability and reparability by using pre-built test
methods, modularity, test points,and accessibility.
• Testing on the basis of development to assure improvement
in quality, and performance during environmental stress
• Repetition, process of creating identical instances of an
element or assemblage of elements.

• Variation, is the process of creating non-identical instances

of an element or assemblage of elements by adjusting
one or more attributes

• Pattern, are regular assemblages of repeated and/or

varied elements

• Discord Uses large, contrasting intervals between

elements to maximize tensions and heighten recognition.
Juxtaposition Examples


• Rhythm is the variation of the duration of sounds/visual
elements or other events over time
• When governed by rule, it is called meter
• In a harmonious composition, even the elements that stand in
opposition share enough common attributes with their
surroundings to seem a part of the whole.
• Harmony in design is about finding a kind of visual rhyme-
scheme, expressed through any single attribute or sets of
• Too much variation and/or too much contrast between elements
can ruin an image's sense of harmony
Rhythm/Tempo/Harmony Examples
• Unity is defines the basic concept with the help of which the
whole product or item is seen as a single unit.
• The basic concept defines (basic idea, basic Shape, Basic Size or
colour and texture which has been the first food for thought of
the product )
• Visual sense of oneness. Each element of art is arranged to
contribute to the composition. Too much variety (opposite)
creates chaos however too much order creates boredom.
• The elements and principles can be selected to support the
intended function of the designed object; the purpose of the
object unifies the design
Inclined Lines and Curves
• Inclined lines and curves are used to generate a unity concept in
the form of shapes of the products
Unity Examples



• Variety is defines the variation in the product layout in one way
or the other so that boredom associated with much unity can be
• By varying the components of a visual design, the artist creates
interest and avoids monotony.
• A way of accomplishing this is to establish an approach which
involves theme and variations-repeating the same image, but in
different sizes, colors, values and shapes.
• Function suggests “NO ART for ART SAKE”
• In the real life world problems, things have to work: Design
should serve the purpose
• No matter how beautiful it is, but if it is not functionally efficient.
That design would be discarded
Task for students