this is the third post on the Language of Design. In a previous post on the topic I introduced the elements of design and explained how they represent the mechanics or physical properties of how we understand the visual world. In contrast, the principles of design are the conceptual aspects that help us to organize and understand the things we see. Stated another way, principles help us arrange and give order to things. Artists and designers manipulate the principles to compose images or three dimensional objects to elicit emotional or aesthetic responses from their viewers.
The last two posts on the Language of Design are meant to introduce terminology and topics that. In future posts I will expand on the principles and elements of design, to help you gain a deeper understanding of them.
I define the principles of design as the conceptual aspects of design that help give order and the visual world.
- Pattern – the repetition of a design element in an image or object
- Variety – the combination of different design elements.
- Rhythm – the visual suggestion of movement through repetitious color, shape, space, line, etc.
- Movement – how elements are arranged to lead the viewer’s eye through or around a composition
- Scale – the relationship of the sizes of parts in a composition, the physical space or relationship to the physical space and object occupies, or the manner in which the size of something is perceived with relation to other things around it.
- Proportion – the manner in which parts of a composition relate to each other.
- Balance – the sense of equilibrium in a composition, which is achieved through the visual weight of each design element. There are three types of balance, symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial. When something is symmetrical its elements are the same on opposing sides of the composition. An asymmetrical composition occurs when an element is uniquely placed on one side but does not occur in similar manner on the opposing side. Radial balance is achieved when elements are arranged in an array around a central point in the composition. It is important to note that a single composition can feature any one of these forms of balance, or any combination of them.
- Unity – the harmony of combined elements in a composition.
- Emphasis – an element in a composition that draws the viewer’s attention.