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Ms. Piazzi Study Guide

Study guide


An orderly arrangement of elements using the principles of design


The elements of art and principles of design help you to carefully plan and organize the elements of art so that you will hold interest and command attention.  This is sometimes referred to as visual impact.


In any work of art there is a thought process for the arrangement and use of the elements of design.  The artist who works with the principles of good composition will create a more interesting piece of art it will be arranged to show a pleasing rhythm and movement.  The center of interest will be strong and the viewers will not look away, instead, they will be drawn into the work.  A good knowledge of composition is essential in producing good artwork.  Some artists today like to bend or ignore these rules and therefore are experimenting with different forms of expression.  We think that composition is very important. The following will assist you in understanding the basics of a good composition: \

The Basic Elements and Principles of the Visual Language. The elements of Art are the alphabet of the visual world and the principles are the words and sentences of the visual world. Elements often times create the principles. Artists use the Elements and Principles to communicate their ideas and feelings.

ELEMENTS of ART : Line - Color - Space -Texture - Shape - Value - Form

PRINCIPLES of Design : Emphasis – Gradation - Proportion – Unity -/Harmony – Rhythm - Variety - Movement Balance - Pattern


Line: The edge of a shape or form or the direction followed by anything in motion. -Implied Line- is a line that doesn’t really exist, but appears to be present. -Actual Line- is a line that is actually present.

Value: Shadows from lightness to darkness -Value variation gives a sense of space and depth to an object---emphasizing its three dimensionality. -Strong contrast in value can create emphasis.

Color: Color is Light reflected from a surface. It can create emphasis, harmony, emotions, unity, and movement. -Color has three distinct qualities: 1. Hue- color - 2. Value- lightness to darkness of a color - 3. Intensity- brightness to dullness of a color - mixing its complimentary color can dull intensity.

Texture: Quality related closely to our sense of touch. It can create emphasis, movement, pattern, emotion. -Implied texture- is texture that appears to be present but it is an illusion. It is not really present. -Actual texture- is texture that really exists and it can be felt.

Shape: Shape encloses a two dimensional area. Shape can create most of the elements and many of the principles. -Types of shapes: Organic-curved edges, continuous Geometric-sharp edges, angles

Form: Form encloses a volume or three-dimensional area. -Light and dark value variations and space are used to emphasize form.

Space: Illusion of depth and space. -Ways to create space:1. Overlapping -- Shapes or forms in front of each other. 2. Holes and cavities


Balance: Refers to the equalization of elements in a work of art. -There are three kinds of balance: 1. symmetrical- formal, divided in half same. 2. asymmetrical- informal, divided in half not same. 3. radial- circular, design starts from center > out

Unity/Harmony: Relates to the sense of oneness, wholeness, or order in a work of art. Combining similar colors, shapes, lines, textures, and patterns in an artwork can create harmony.

Movement: Refers to the arrangement of parts in a work of art to create a slow to fast action of the eye. -Pattern, contrast, line can create this.

Rhythm: It is a type of movement in an artwork or design often created by repeated objects. -There are different types of rhythm: 1. Regular- Example: 9s9s9s9s9s9 - 2. Irregular- Example: qqeeqqeyyy

Emphasis: refers to placing greater attention to certain areas or objects in a piece of work. -Emphasis can be created through sudden and abrupt changes in opposing elements. (Example: bright yellow dot in large black area)

Proportion: Refers to the relationship of certain elements to the whole and to each other.Pattern: is created by repetition of (not limited to) shape, line, color, or texture.

Variety: It is achieved through diversity and change. Using different line types, colors, textures, shapes…..

Gradation: Refers to a way of combining elements by using a series of gradual changes. -Examples of gradation:

1. gradually from small shapes to large shapes 2. gradually from a dark color to a light color.3. gradually from shadow to highlight. Gradations: Color gradations are colors that appear to change from one to another with smooth, seamless transitions. An excellent example of a color gradation is a sunset with colors that range from red at the horizon to dark blue directly overhead.

Chiaroscuro or Shading Italian term used in that form in English. (Shading )It translates as light-dark, and refers to the balance and pattern of light and shade in a painting or drawing. An Italian word literally meaning "light dark", used to describe the skillful balance of light and dark in a painting, with strong contrasts to create dramatic effect. Chiaroscuro The term originated as a name for a type of Renaissance drawing on colored paper, where the artist worked Shading is Chiaroscuro. Sets the style of shading used for the surface. Draws the surfaces with a smooth shading to blend individual cell colors together from this base tone towards light.

Characteristic of Line are:

· Width- thick, thin, tapering, uneven

· Length - long, short, continuous, broken

· Direction- horizontal, vertical, diagonal, curving, perpendicular, oblique, parallel, radial, zigzag

· Focus- sharp, blurry, fuzzy, choppy

· Feeling- sharp, jagged, graceful, smooth

Types of Line: Curve Lines, Horizontal Lines, Vertical Lines, Diagonal Lines, Strait Lines, Zig-Zag,

1. Outlines- Lines made by the edge of an object or its silhouette.

2. Contour Lines- Lines that describe the shape of an object and the interior detail.

3. Gesture Lines- Line that are energetic and catches the movement and gestures of an active figure.

4. Sketch Lines- Lines that captures the appearance of an object or impression of a place.

5. Calligraphic Lines- Greek word meaning “beautiful writing.”  Precise, elegant handwriting or lettering done by hand. Also artwork that has flowing lines like an elegant handwriting.

6. Implied Line- Lines that are not actually drawn but created by a group of objects seen from a distance.  The direction an object is pointing to, or the direction a person is looking at.

1.    Below are five boxes.  Create a different type of line for each box. 2.    In the blank under the box come up with a name for that line that describes it.

___________      ___________       __________       ___________       __________ 


Color comes from light; if it weren’t for light we would have no color.  Light rays move in a straight path from a light source.  Within this light rays are all the rays of colors in the spectrum or rainbow.  Shining a light into a prism will create a rainbow of colors because it separates the color of the spectrum.  When the light rays hits an object our eyes responds to the light that is bounced back and we see that color.  For example a red ball reflects all the red light rays.  As artist we use pigments in the form of powder or liquid paints to create color.

Categories of Color Color Wheels a tool used to organize color.  It is made up of:

Primary Colors-Red, Yellow, Blue these color cannot be mixed, they must be bought in some form.

 Secondary Color-Orange, Violet, Green, these colors are created by mixing two primaries.

·Intermediate Colors- Red Orange, Yellow Green, Blue Violet, etc.; mixing a primary with a secondary creates these colors. 

 Complementary Colors-are colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel.  When placed next to each other they look bright and when mixed together they neutralize each other. 

Color Harmonies Color Harmonies is when an artist uses certain combinations of colors that create different looks or feelings.

 Analogous Colors are colors that are next to each other on the color wheel for example red, red orange, and orange are analogous colors.

 Complementary Colors

 Monochromatic is where one color is used but in different values and intensity.

 Warm colors are on one side of the color wheel and they give the felling of warmth for example red, orange and yellow are the color of fire and feel warm.

 Cool colors are on the other side of the color wheel and they give the feeling of coolness for example blue, violet, are the color of water, and green are the color of cool grass.

In these boxes color with warm color, cool color, two complementary, and one monochromatic.

Write under each box the title Warm, Cool, the two complementary that you choose and one monochromatic.

__________ ___________ _____________ ______________ _____________

On the back of this sheet of paper create a color wheel.  Be sure to include the primary, secondary and intermediate colors.  Use colored pencils to create your colors. 


Shape:  When a line crosses itself or intersects with other lines to enclose a space it creates a shape.  Shape