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Principles of Design

The 7 Principles of design combine the 7 elements of art in certain ways that help make the artwork pleasant to the viewer. The successful use of these principles rewards the artist with a good composition.

  • Unity - Unity, also known as harmony, is the end result when the artist successfully combines the principles of design to achieve a good composition within a piece of art.

  • Pattern - Pattern is very similar to rhythm, only the repeated elements tend to be more organized, such as wall paper or a plaid shirt.

  • Rhythm - Rhythm is achieved with repetition of elements like shapes or colors. Sometimes they are loosely organized, and sometimes they are very organized, like the columns of a building.

  • Balance - Balance in art is an establishment of visual stability through conscious distribution of elements within a work, such as color characteristics like values and hues. There is symmetrical balance and asymmetrical balance. Symmetrical balance means that both sides are almost identical in most aspects, a picture of a clock that's centered in the middle of the paper, or of two similar objects evenly spaced on the page. An Asymmetrical example could be a large area of red on one side that might balance nicely with several smaller red shapes on the other. 

  • Visual Movement - Visual Movement shows actions, or alternatively, the path the viewer's eye follows throughout an artwork. Movement is caused by using elements under the rules of the principles in picture to give the feeling of action and to guide the viewer's eyes throughout the artwork. In movement your art should flow, because you are controlling the viewers eye. You control what they see and how they see it, much like a path leading across the page to the item you really want to be seen by the viewer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principles_of_art

  • Emphasis - Emphasis is the focal point or focal area of the artwork. Often it is established through the use of contrasting elements such as bright values verses dark or complimenting colors next to one another. The visual movement of the composition may lead the viewer to that point.

  • Contrast - Contrast is created by using elements that conflict with one another. Often, contrast is created using complementary colors or extremely light and dark values. Contrast creates interest in a piece and often draws the eye to certain areas. It is used to make a painting look interesting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principles_of_art