Elements of Visual Design – The Series

There are many ways to compose an image to gain a viewers attention.  As always, there are rules, such as the rule of thirds, and then there are ways to break the rules and still create a stunning image.

Today, we will start a new series on the elements of visual design – another form of composition.  We won’t be talking much about the actual subjects but the abstract elements that make up the image.  Let’s start with the 7 basic elements of visual design and why they are used.

1.  Shape – Shapes are considered 2 dimensional and can be an important design element in images when it is used to get your viewer guessing as to what the image is.  Silhouettes are considered shapes.  That lone tree with the sun as the back light, posing gracefully in your image but without detail.  This is a good example of shape.  Another example would be when the subjects in your image cause shapes to appear subconsciously.  A road that creates converging lines as it reaches off into the distance, unconsciously causes triangles in your image.

2.   Form – Form is considered to be 3 dimensional.  When you see an image that portrays a form, you almost want to reach out and touch it.  An image of a beach ball, for example, looks 3 dimensional and seems to extend right off the page the image is printed on.

3.   Line – An image composed to show a line or lines creates a different reaction from your viewer.  A diagonal line in your image creates depth such as an image of an interesting fence diagonally across your image will show depth in how long the fence is.  Horizontal lines can create a relaxed feeling in your viewer.  A sunset image over the ocean is a good example of this.  Vertical lines give a sense of power to your viewer when they are exploring your image.  Tall trees shot from below is an excellent example of this.  You can almost feel the power they have over the land on which they stand.

4.   Color – The use of color as a compositional element creates mood in your images.  Warm colors, such as reds, yellows, and oranges, show a sense of urgency or anger whereas cool colors, purples, greens, and blues, give your image a sense of calmness.

5.   Texture – Texture in images creates drama and helps to tell a story.  A washed up old boat on the coast is a good example.  Images that focus on the texture makes your viewer imagine how the texture got there, where your subject has been, and makes them want to touch it.

6.   Space – This is another element that lends itself to drama.  Adding space to your image makes your viewer want to know whats missing.  A pet running across your image is a good example.  You want to give him room to run into so your viewer wonders where he is running to.

7.   Pattern – Patterns in images creates harmony and rhythm.  Pattern alone is a nice compositional element but if you break the pattern in your image, you have given your image a focal point.

Over the next several posts, we will be exploring each of these elements with images as examples of how each element can be used in composition.

#photography #arts #designelements

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