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D03 ARTISTIC COMPOSITION (Elements & Principles)


VOCABULARY:  click links for detailed glossary page:

  • ELEMENTS: the basic ingredients (things that can be seen) that an artist uses separately or in combination to produce artistic imagery

  • LINE: a basic element of art referring to the path between two points that can make shapes, show movement or mood

  • SHAPE: a flat enclosed space with edges made by line, color, value, or texture

  • FORM: a shape in 3-dimensions (width, length, depth)

  • VALUE: the range from light to dark of a color

  • COLOR: an element of art that is produced when light, striking an object, is reflected back to the eye

  • TEXTURE: the real or simulated surface quality or "feel" of an object, its smoothness, roughness, softness

  • SPACE: the area around, above, and within an object

  • POSITIVE SPACE: the areas in a work of art that are the subjects, or areas of interest

  • NEGATIVE SPACE: the area surrounding the subjects

  • PRINCIPLES:  the ways that artists arrange the basic things (elements) in a work of art or photograph to create a composition

  • CONTRAST: the arrangement of opposite elements to create visual interest, excitement and drama

  • BALANCE: the distribution of the visual weight of elements such as colors, texture, and space to create stability and equilibrium

  • EMPHASIS: giving importance to certain elements to communicate a message

  • PATTERN: a combination of elements or shapes repeated in a recurring and regular arrangement to add visual interest or symbolism

  • VARIETY: the use of several different elements of design to add visual interest and to guide the viewer’s eye

  • UNITY & HARMONY: all elements of the artwork combine to create a sense of completeness, singleness or wholeness

  • RHYTHM: when elements are used repeatedly to create a feeling of movement to guide the viewer's eye through the artwork

  • PROPORTION: the relationship between the size and scale of objects in a design

  • ASYMMETRICAL BALANCE: When visual weight in an image is balanced by the use of colors, shapes, and lines

  • SYMMETRICAL BALANCE: When an image is the same on either side of the center (i.e. mirror image)