An Introduction to the Elements and Principles of Art and Design
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An Introduction to the Elements and Principles of Art and Design. Feb ‘12 Condensed version. Elements of Art and Design. The visual tools or building blocks artists use to create all art. The elements include line, shape, colour, value, texture, space and form. Line.

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Elements of art and design
Elements Design of Art and Design

  • The visual tools or building blocks artists use to create all art.

  • The elements include line, shape, colour, value, texture, space and form.

Line Design

  • Line: An element of art that is used to define shape,contours and also to suggest mass or volume. It may be a continuous mark made on a surface with a pointed tool or implied by the edges of shapes and forms.

Variation of line
Variation of Line: Design

  • Width- thick, thin, tapering, uneven

  • Length - long, short, continuous, broken

  • Direction- horizontal, vertical, diagonal, curving, perpendicular, oblique, parallel, radial, zigzag

  • Curvature – slight curves and sharp curves

  • Colour

  • Focus- sharp, blurry, fuzzy, choppy

  • Feeling- sharp, jagged, graceful, smooth

Types of line
Types of Line: Design

Contour Lines- Lines that describe the shape of an object and the interior detail.

Types of line1
Types of Line: Design

  • Gesture Lines- Line that are energetic and catches the movement and gestures of an active figure.

Types of line2
Types of Line: Design

Sketch Lines- Lines that captures the appearance of an object or impression of a place.

Self Portrait Design

Egon Schiele

Types of line3
Types of Line: Design

  • Implied Line- Lines that are not actually drawn but created by a group of objects seen from a distance. The direction an object is pointing to, or the direction a person is looking at.


The Anatomy Lecture of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp


"Calling of St. Matthew":


  • A flat figure created when actual or implied lines meet to surround a space.

  • The two basic types of shape are organic shape and geometric shape.

  • Geometric Shapes Circles, Squares, rectangles and triangles. We see them in architecture and manufactured items.

  • Organic Shapes Leaf, seashell or flower shapes. We see them in nature and with characteristics that are free flowing, informal and irregular.

Value or tone

Value or tone refers to the lightness or darkness of any media or surface, whether it is in black and white or in colour.

In picture making, value has two important functions. First, it can turn flat shapes into the illusion of forms which appear solid. Second, it can create impressions of mood or atmosphere. An overall dark tone with little contrast can give a work a feeling of gloom or melancholy.

Value or Tone


  • Any three-dimensional object.

  • In painting, we talk about an artist creating the illusion of form.

  • The two basic types of form are organic form and geometric form.

  • All forms in nature can be simplified or reduced to basic geometric forms.


  • Mechanical-looking forms.

  • Geometric forms include cones, cubes, cylinders, pyramids and spheres.


  • The way a surface feels (actual texture) or how it may look (implied texture).

  • Texture can be sensed by touch and sight and be described with words such as smooth, rough, soft and pebbly.


  • The empty or open area between, around, below or within objects.

  • The three main types of space are deep space – as in a distant landscape, shallow space – a measurable distance as in a few millimeters to a few meters, and flat space – all objects appear to sit right on the surface of a work.

Colour has 3 basic attributes
Colour has 3 basic attributes.

  • Hue– the colour’s name. eg red, yellow and blue

  • Intensity – the brightness or dullness of the colour. Straight out of the tube is full intensity. Adding a colour’s complement makes it dull.

  • Value – the lightness or darkness of a colour. Yellow is light in value and violet is dark in value.


  • Colour comes form light; if it weren’t for light we would have no color. Light rays move in a straight path from a light source. Within this light rays are all the rays of colours in the spectrum or rainbow. Shining a light into a prism will create a rainbow of colours because it separates the colour of the spectrum. When the light rays hits an object our eyes responds to the light that is bounced back and we see that colour. For example a red ball reflects all the red light rays. As artist we use pigments in the form of powder or liquid paints to create colour.

  • Color Wheels tool used to organize color. It is made up of:

  • ·        Primary Colors-Red, Yellow, Blue these color cannot be mixed, they must be bought in some form.

  • ·      Secondary Color-Orange, Violet, Green, these colors are created by mixing two primaries.

  • ·      Intermediate Colors- Red Orange, Yellow Green, Blue Violet, etc.; mixing a primary with a secondary creates these colors.

  • ·      Complementary Colors-are colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. When placed next to each other they look bright and when mixed together they neutralize each other.

Color harmonies
Color Harmonies

  • Color Harmonies or colour schemes is when an artist uses certain combinations of colors that create different looks or feelings.

  • Warm colors on one side of the color wheel and they give the felling of warmth for example red, orange and yellow are the color of fire and feel warm.

  • Cool colors on the other side of the color wheel and they give the feeling of coolness for example blue, violet and blue green.