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Color Theory, Basic Photography, 4 Basic Design Principles

Primary Colors

colors that cannot be made by mixing two other colors together; red, yellow & blue

Secondary Colors

colors that are made by mixing equal amounts of two primary colors.; orange, green, & purple

Tertiary/Intermediate Colors

colors that are made by mixing equal amounts of a primary color and a secondary color; red orange, yellow green, blue violet

Complementary Colors

colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel; orange & blue, red & green, yellow & purple

Warm Colors

give the feeling of warmth; red, yellow, & orange

Cool Colors

give the feeling of coolness; blue, violet, & green


the selection and arrangement of subjects within the picture area


placing the focus point of the photograph in such a way that the eye can move about the picture

Rule of Thirds

to divide a photograph horizontally or vertically into thirds to provide a satisfying balance


makes the viewer feel as if they are seeing a moment captured as it happened, not as if it was posed

Unifying Elements

pulls your eye along in the direction intended

Off-Center Composition

an effective way to give the viewer a sense of location and distance


to modify a photograph that doesn't quite communicate the message intended by cutting out unwanted parts of the photograph

Depth of Field

when a lens focuses on a subject at a distance, all subjects at that distance are sharply focused. Subjects that aren't at the same distance are out of focus and are not sharply focused

Cluttered Backgrounds

backgrounds that detract from the photograph, rather than add to it; avoid cluttered backgrounds

Special Effects

close-ups, different angles, color accent, lighting, shooting up or down, etc.


idea is to avoid elements that are merely similar; if the elements(type, color, size, line thickness, space, shape) are not the same, then make them very different *2 fonts


repeat visual elements throughout the piece; helps develop the organization and strengthens unity visually


nothing should be placed on the page arbitrarily; creates a clean, fresh, and intentional look; two types= asymmetrical & symmetrical


items relating to each other should be grouped close together; this helps organize the information and reduces visual clutter

Analogous Colors

those colors which lie on either side of any given color


to add white or make the color lighter


to add black or make the color darker


where one color is used but in different values and intensity

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