Design 101: Basic Principles

Design 101: Basic Principles

This is where it all starts! Here are the fundamental elements of design:

The 3 F's – Form follows function is known as the 3 F's of Design.
Form refers to what something looks like, and function refers to how it works (think paper clip).

Space – Space is the area provided for a particular purpose. It may have two dimensions (length and width), such as a floor, or it may have three dimensions (length, width, and height). Space includes the background, foreground and middle ground. Space refers to the distances or areas around, between or within components of a piece. There are two types of space: positive and negative space. Positive space refers to the space of a shape representing the subject matter. Negative space refers to the space around and between the subject matter.

Line – Line is the basic element that refers to the continuous movement of a point along a surface, such as by a pencil or brush. The edges of shapes and forms also create lines. It is the basic component of a shape drawn on paper. Lines and curves are the basic building blocks of two dimensional shapes like a house's plan. Every line has length, thickness, and direction. There are curved, horizontal, vertical, diagonal, zigzag, wavy, parallel, dash, and dotted lines.

Color – Color is seen either by the way light reflects off a surface, or in colored light sources. Color and particularly contrasting color is also used to draw the attention to a particular part of the image. There are primary colors, secondary colors, and tertiary colors. Complementary colors are colors that are opposite to each other on the color wheel. Complementary colors are used to create contrast. Analogous colors are colors that are found side by side on the color wheel. These can be used to create color harmony. Monochromatic colors are tints and shades of one color. Warm colors are a group of colors that consist of reds, yellows, and oranges. Cool colors are group of colors that consist of purples, greens, and blues.

Shape – A shape is defined as an area that stands out from the space next to or around it due to a defined or implied boundary, or because of differences of value, color, or texture. Shapes can also show perspective by overlapping. They can be geometric or organic. Shapes in house decor and interior design can be used to add interest, style, theme to a design like a door. Shape in interior design depends on the function of the object like a kitchen cabinet door. Natural shapes forming patterns on wood or stone may help increase visual appeal in interior design. In a landscape, natural shapes, such as trees contrast with geometric such as houses.

   

Texture – Texture is perceived surface quality. In art, there are two types of texture: tactile and implied. Tactile texture (real texture) is the way the surface of an object actually feels. Examples of this include sandpaper, cotton balls, tree bark, puppy fur, etc. Implied texture is the way the surface of an object looks like it feels. The texture may look rough, fizzy, gritty, but cannot actually be felt. This type of texture is used by artists when drawing or painting.

Form – Form is any three dimensional object. Form can be measured, from top to bottom (height), side to side (width), and from back to front (depth). Form is also defined by light and dark. There are two types of form, geometric (man-made) and natural (organic form). Form may be created by the combining of two or more shapes. It may be enhanced by tone, texture and color. It can be illustrated or constructed.

Value – Value is an element of art that refers to the relationship between light and dark on a surface or object and also helps with Form. It gives objects depth and perception. Value is also referred to as tone

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