Graphic Design/Elements of Design

The Elements of Visual Design:

The Elements of Design are the basic building blocks of any design or composition.

The Elements of Design include:

  • Line
  • Shape
  • Form
  • Space
  • Value
  • Color

The Principles of Design:

The Principles of Design are guidelines for organization.

The Principles of Visual Design include:

  • Rhythm
  • Unity (harmony)
  • Economy (deletion)
  • Repetition
  • Similarity
  • Concentration
  • Radiation
  • Gradation
  • Anomaly
  • Proximity
  • Texture (pattern)
  • Closure
  • Direction


Unity (harmony) is the similarity between the design elements. Its function is to organize design elements. It is created through repetitive or limited use of design elements. The weakness of unity is that it is boring and monotonous.

There are two types of unity: Dominant and Subordinate.

  • Dominant Unity is the group of elements repeated less.
  • Subordinate Unity is the group of elements that is repeated more.


Contrast, on the other hand, is the difference between design elements. The function of contrast is to create visual interest; it is a break in Repetition.


Emphasis is contrast that clarifies.

Focal Point

Is an area of extreme contrast.


Movement is visual arrangements that create visual pathways. Movement is created through repetition or the use of lines.


Format is the space in which a composition is created.


Balance is the equalization of elements.

  • Symmetrical Balance has equal weights and equal distance from the center.
  • Asymmetrical Balance has unequal weights with the larger weight closer to the center.
  • Radial Balance has design elements radiating from a point.
  • Intuitive Balance elements spread uniformly through a space.

Many other factors are important in your final presentation of your design, but are not design principles or elements such as:

  • Usability
  • Functionality
  • Materials
  • Finishing quality
  • Lighting and presentation

Assignment 1:

Create a composition for each of the Design Principles listed above, utilizing the design elements.

(Example: Create a composition using the design principle rhythm, by using a line (a design element).