Design principles are strategies that are used to organize the elements into a unified, visually interesting composition that communicates the intent of the artist. Unity is generally considered to be the goal of good design in terms of a well organized and executed plan.
The most commonly identified strategies that are manipulated to create an interesting yet unified whole are:
• Space: Controls pictorial illusion.
• Balance: Provides compositional stability
• Harmony: Helps to achieve unity through rhythm and repetitiveness of elements in a pleasing arrangement.
• Contrast and Variety: Provides visual interest through manipulation of the elements and accompanying principles without destroying the fundamental unity of a composition.
• Emphasis: Brings attention to a particular area or aspect of a composition usually through some type of contrast such as color, texture, scale, proportion, etc.
• Focal Point: A special point of emphasis within the composition that becomes the repeated "focus" of the composition rather than a momentary accent. Often the focal point of the composition is used in conjunction with the identification and location of the subject Note that a composition does not have to have a focal point to be successful.
• Dominance: A principle of visual organization that suggests certain elements should assume more importance than others in the same composition. Dominance can be established through repetition of a particular shape, color, texture, type of line etc. Generally a composition has some dominant feature to help establish or maintain a sense of unity while allowing for variety and visual interest.
• Proximity: Proximity refers to the distance between components within specific groupings. Generally, the closers components are together, the more unified they seem and vise versa.
• Closure: Closure occurs when the mind is able to establish a sense of unity from seemingly fragmentary information. Proximity is an important factor in Closure. Also, relates to "Gestalt Psychology" in some instances.
• Repetition: Repetition works with Dominance to establish harmony and unity through similarity and number of related elements.
• Rhythm: Rhythm is a controlled Repetition that establishes a visual flow or path (visual continuation) throughout the composition.
• Proportion and Scale are components of size and are manipulated in a variety of ways to provide interest within the composition.