Elements of Design

Can You Identify the Elements of Design Used in Your Documents?

The shapes, brushstrokes, colors, and materials that come together to form the whole are the elements of design.

The elements of design are the building blocks of all designs, chosen to convey the message — beyond the actual words or photos used. Desktop publishing documents utilize the five elements of design : lines | shapes | mass | texture | color. Can you identify each element in your own designs?

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Lines come in all shapes and sizes.

Lines are one of the basic elements of design. Alone or in combination with other lines or shapes they can aid in the readability, appearance, and message of a design. Have you used lines to organize or guide the eye? Have you used lines to simulate texture or provide movement?

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Mass is more than physical size.
Mass equals size. Each piece you create has a physical mass. Additionally, each component of the design have their own mass relative to the whole piece. Does your layout look or feel heavy or light? Does that support or go against what you want to convey with your piece? Is the paper too stiff or too flimsy? Is the overall size easy to handle? Does the size of page or the size of the text or the size of graphics overwhelm or whisper softly?

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What shape is your design?

Shape is one of the basic elements of design. Alone or in combination with other shapes or lines they can convey universal meanings as well as guide the eye or organize information. The three basic types of shapes are geometric, natural, and abstract. What shapes have you used in your document -- from the shape of the folded and unfolded page to the shapes used on the page? Have you used shapes to organize or grab attention? Do you use certain shapes to symbolize an idea or convey a mood or emotion? Have you used shapes to create movement (or stillness), or provide texture?

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Texture can be smooth, rough, tactile, or visual.
Texture is always a part of our designs whether intentional or not. It is the visual or tactile surface characteristics of a piece. What does your paper feel like -- slick, fuzzy, rough? Does its actual or visual texture (created through lines, shapes, or photographic images) match the overall message you want to convey?

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Color and Value

Color can be black & white.
Color is not essential to a good design. Black and white and shades of gray can create 'color' that is just as effective as reds, blues, and greens. However, color is an added dimension that can evoke moods and make powerful statements when used wisely. Value is present in all design. It is the lightness or darkness of an object, regardless of color. Value is relative to the background color and other items on the page. Have you used color and value to show contrast, create movement, lead the eye, or convey specific messages?