Elements of design can be defined as the building blocks that go into a design’s making. A visually appealing graphic design is the result of successfully blending these elements into an aesthetically merged entity. So what are the building blocks?
Lines are used as roadmaps to direct the viewer’s eye movements. They can exist on their own or be employed to create texture and movement–to connect information, to demarcate space or even to create a desired mood. Lines can be vertical, horizontal, diagonal, circular, patterned, free form or solid.
Shapes can be geometric, abstract, stylized or as they occur in nature. They give volume to the forms in a design. You can make use of texture, lines, colors and alterations in value to discern shapes.
Texture is a powerful graphic design tool used to enhance design with details necessary for creating visual impact. It delivers a sense of feel, especially with two-dimensional images. In graphic design, texture can take the form of layers or gradation of text, lines or shapes.
In design speak, white space is called negative space. It can be used to connect, separate or maximize the relationship between the elements making up the design. Negative space creates groupings, enhances expressions and emphasizes hierarchies. Space can also be used to give the illusion of depth or multi-dimension.
The functionality of a graphic design layout hinges heavily on size. Use size to draw attention to the most important element in the design; typically, a larger size invites the most attention. Different sizes within the same graphic design or layout creates a hierarchy of dominance. Use variations in size to guide the viewer’s eye through the path you want it to take.
This refers to how dark or light (in terms of color) something is. In a monochromatic image, value is used to define the shape and texture of a design element. Value comes in handy when you want to convey the illusion of movement or bring one element into sharp focus while another recedes into the background.
People process color subconsciously. To establish mood, create appeal, generate interest and get a message across, color is the most potent tool in your graphic design arsenal.
The purpose of graphic design is to capture and engage viewer interest. You don’t have to use all seven elements in a single design. It’s possible to employ three or four elements and still achieve the desired effect.