The Principles of Design

1. Stretch your arms out horizontally and balance on one foot

2. Start with hands flat in front of you with finger tips touching. Raise one hand up while lowering the other - this will show contrast

3. Hold both hands up with fingers spread apart (Jazz hands) – emphasis

4. Move your arms in a wave – this will illustrate movement

5. Interlock your fingers – this shows pattern

6. Snap your fingers – this represents rhythm

7. Hold your hands together – this symbolizes unity


The principles of design are the recipe for a good work of art. The basis of all design is the arrangement of the elements of art (color, texture, value, line, shape form and space), using the design principles. It is the bringing together of various components into one area and arranging them in such a way as to create a composition, layout or design that is both unified and pleasing to look at.


The Principles of Design Definitions

Balance is the distribution of the visual weight of objects, color texture, and space. If the design was a scale, these elements should be balanced to make a design feel stable. In symmetrical balance, the elements used on one side of the design are similar to those on the other side; in asymmetrical balance, the sides are different but still look balanced. In radial balance, the elements are arranged around a central point and may be similar.

Contrast is the difference between elements in a work of art. This can happen through a variety of elements such as value change, size difference, etc.

Emphasis is the part of the design that catches the viewer’s attention. Usually the artist will make one area stand out by contrasting it with other areas. The area could be different in size, color, texture, shape, etc.

Movement is the path the viewer’s eye takes through the work of art, often from one focal point to another. Such movement can be directed along lines, edges, shape and color within the work of art.

Pattern is the repeating of an object or symbol all over the work of art.

Rhythm is created when one or more elements of design are used repeatedly to create a feeling of organized movement.

Unity is the feeling of harmony between all parts of the wok of art, which creates a sense of completeness.