Graphic Design

Elements and Principles of Design

Learn the rules before you break them

Use of the elements and principles of design helps achieve a good composition, delivers your message for effectively, and makes your piece memorable. They are the foundation of every successful piece.

The Elements of Design

Artist and designers use the elements of design to create a design or composition. The elements are point, line, colour, shape, form, tone and texture.

Point: A single spot on a page.

Line: A mark in which the length is longer than the width.

Colour: Colour provides the feeling or expression of the piece.

Shape: Circles, squares, rectangles and triangles.

Form: Gives the appearance of depth.

Tone: Gives a sense of lightness and darkness.

Texture: The character of a surface, which adds dimension.

The Principles of Design

Use of the elements of design helps you achieve the principles of design. The composition as a whole is made of elements with each of the elements of design applied to it. The principles: focus, balance, contrast, rhythm and scale.

Focus: The principle element within your design.

Balance: Symmetrical or asymmetrical design elements.

Contrast: The relationship/difference between the elements of design.

Rhythm: The variety and repetition of the design elements.

Scale: The relationship of how large an object is in relationship to another object.


The arrangement of all the design elements, as a unified whole, makes up a composition.

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