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Design elements and principles describe fundamental ideas about the practice of good visual design that are assumed to be the basis of all intentional visual design strategies. The elements form the 'vocabulary' of the design, while the principles constitute the broader structural aspects of its composition. Awareness of the elements and principles in design is the first step in creating successful visual compositions. These principles, which may overlap, are used in all visual design…


an empty area (usually bounded in some way between things)

Negative Space

empty spaces surrounding shapes and forms

Positive Space

Space in an artwork that is positive. Filled with something, such as lines, designs, color, or shapes.

Visual Weight

apparent "heaviness" or "lightness" of the forms arranged in a composition. This is gauged by how much a shape draws our attention


a length (straight or curved) without breadth or thickness, lead the eye through a design

Vertical Lines

forces the eye to move up & down, creates the illusion of tallness or slenderizes the wearer when used in apparel

Horizontal Lines

forces the eye to move from the left to right, creates the illusion of width

Curved Lines

more of an informal design, used to move the eye through/over a design, natural


the appearance of objects (or light sources) described in terms of a person's perception of their hue and lightness (or brightness) and saturation


the visual appearance of something or someone, The two-dimensional contour that characterizes an object or area, sometimes called a silhouette, in contrast to three-dimensional form.


A three-dimensional object or the illusion of three dimensions


a state of equilibrium, produces equality in a design or outfit, when all sides of design appear equal in visual weight or power of attraction the design seems to have stability

Symmetrical Balance

distribution achieved by arranging elements as horizontal or vertical mirrored images on both sides of an imaginary center line of a screen.

Asymmetrical Balance

the type of balance when both sides of the central axis are not identical, yet appear to have the same visual weight

Formal Balance

most often a design in Symmetrical Balance

Informal Balance

most often a design in Asymmetrical Balance


Perceived surface quality, tactile quality of goods, how the surface of a material feels and looks


the combination of all elements working together to achieve a sense of harmony in your design; grouping related items close together


orderly and pleasing arrangement of shapes and lines


repetition of visual movement


harmonious arrangement or relation of parts or elements within a whole (as in a design)


the ratio between the size of something and a representation of it


put in opposition to show or emphasize differences


The principle of design that uses a concentration of interest or area of focus in a particular part or area of a design.

Elements of Design

How color, shape, line, and texture are combined to form designs.

Principles of Design

Guidelines of balance, proportion, emphasis and rhythm that tell us how to use the Elements of Design to create pleasing designs.

Neutral Colors

black, white, gray, beige

Color Wheel

Tool used to show hues, how they are related to each other, and what colors will be created when mixing paints & dyes together

Color Schemes

Specific patterns of how colors can be used together

Monochromatic Color Scheme

Use of different tints, shades, & intensities of ONE color

Analogous Color Scheme

Use of adjacent colors on the color wheel - usually in THREE colors

Complementary Color Scheme

Use of TWO colors that are directly across from each other on the color wheel

Split-Complimentary Color Scheme

Uses of THREE colors: combines one color with the colors on each side of its opposite

Triad Color Scheme

Combines THREE colors that are equidistant on the color wheel

Accented Neutral Color Scheme

Combines white, gray, black, or beige with ONE other color as an accent

Balance in Garments ...

... is produced by adding decoration or structural parts to an apparel design


the shape of a female's body


the shape of of a male's body

Body Build

the relationship among the different areas of the body, proportion of body parts that gives an indication of shape


Gradual increase or decrease of similar design elements, also called progression


Repeats lines, shapes, colors, or textures in a garment


Created when lines, shapes or designs emerge from a central point resulting in the design being an equal distance from that point

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