Elements of Design Tips

Read these 10 Elements of Design Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Graphic Design tips and hundreds of other topics.

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What is the difference between form and shape?

Form: Three-dimensions

"Form" is the 3-D of shape. A form can be geometric, organic, natural, realistic, abstract and nonobjective. The shape and structure of an object in architecture, fashion design, interior design, packaging, and other forms of 3-D graphic design. Basic forms consist of spheres, cubes, cylinders and cones. Basic shapes consist of circles, squares, rectangles and triangles.

How do I use value as an element of graphic design?

Tint, Tone and Shade

All elements of design have value. They range from 1% to 100% white on a black background and from 1% to 100% black on a white background. Value adds contrast, movement, direction and depth. Atmospheric values show distance. Can you imagine a black wedding dress among a sea of white tuxedos? Or a black tank in a desert? Values help an object recede or stand out. A value is not as powerful as color when creating a mood, but if your values don't work, color won't save you.

Tint = White + Color
Tone = Gray + color
Shade = Black + color

Why do I need texture in graphic design?

Why Texture?

Texture in graphic design is often used to support an idea, rather than a primary element to communicate a concept. Interior design often uses contrast of texture to communicate a mood. You can use your scanner to bring in elements of texture to your web design. Paper for printing will add texture to your line art. Texture can be used to fill in objects or used for backgrounds. Don't let texture detract from the overall concept or simplicity of your idea.

How do I make something look larger in two dimensions?

Illusions of Proportion

Space is also measured as proportion or scale and is the heavyweight of illusion in drawing and design. Scale shows the relationship between objects by using size and distance. You can manipulate the impact of your message by using odd or different sizes in your project. A large green giant with a tiny green pea is quite effective.

A larger image appears to be closer, and a smaller image appears to be further away. An object at the bottom of your format appears to be closer.

How do I use color as an element in design?

A Broad Topic

Color is one of the most important elements of design. The use of color - or the lack of color - helps determine mood, direction, and is a huge factor in the unity of a piece. Since the subject is so broad, there is a separate category for color here at graphic design tips. You can go here to get started.

How can I render space in two dimensions?

What is Space?

Space is two-dimensional or three-dimensional. Space can be created with line (linear and radial perspective), shape or form (defining negative and positive space), Texture (more detail up close, less detail in distance), Color (warm colors come forward, cool colors recede), and value (white comes forward, black recedes). To give the appearance of dimension to a flat drawing or illustration, learn the skill of illustrating perspective and the effective use of light and shadow (chiaroscuro). These tools will bring your line drawings to life.

How do I render value in web design?

Low Key, High Key

Value is simply the darkness (low key) or lightness (high key) of a color. This is most readily discernible in the gray scale, where black fades to white. In web color, you only have several "web safe" gray values to chose from - From black (00) to the next lightest color (33) and up again to 66, 99, CC and then to FF. This is part of the hexadecimal system of web color.

In illustration mediums outside of computer generation, values can consist of hundreds of steps. This is not limited by the standard of safe web colors.

How do I make a drawing appear to be 3-dimensional?


To give the appearance of dimension to a flat drawing or illustration, learn the skill of illustrating perspective and the effective use of light and shadow (chiaroscuro). These tools will bring your line drawings to life.

How do I use line as an element of design?

Element of Line

Line is simple. It's merely the joining of dots to form a continuous shape. Line gives direction, contrast and shape to a two-dimensional work. When a line is joined, it forms a another shape. This shape is called a plane - it's an illusion of a surface.

How do I use type as an element in graphic design?

Type in Design

Typography is an element in design, if simply in that it helps delineate graphic design from fine art in many instances.

Type creates direction, lends mass, color, line and other elements in the total unity of a piece. For more about this broad subject, go to the subject of Typography.

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