The Primary Design Elements: A New Series

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design-starToday, I’m posting an overview of a series that will appear here on Sitepoint called “Primary Design Elements.” It’s aimed at new designers or anyone who’s working in design and might find a brief refresher helpful.

Whether you’re working in web or print design, there are some basic guidelines which when applied can elevate your design from amateur to well, “much, much better.” I’m not going to pretend that five posts will give you a complete design education but I hope it will help to lay a small foundation.

Breaking the Rules

Often people will ask, will my designs be boring if I follow rules? The answer is no.  Unless of course you want it to look boring. When you know and understand rules, then you can break them and manipulate them. So don’t worry, you can still be a design rebel while taking advantage of good principles.

Starting next week, we’ll look at each of the following design elements in more depth:

  • Line
  • Type
  • Shape
  • Texture

These are some of the ingredients you can use to communicate your message, because that’s what design is about. Visual communication. It’s not about making things pretty for the sake of it.

The line is one of the simplest and most versatile design elements. It can be used for organization, for connection, for division and for decoration.

Man with blank placard

Image copyright Mike Sullivan
Type is of course an obvious tool for communication and often a crucial element. It can work as text to be read, as a purely visual element and as a shape.

Art Of Elan

When we talk about shape, we’re talking about blocks of color or value, artwork, photographs and even blocks of text.

Sarajo Frieden
Texture is particularly relevant for print work where a designer can choose the type of materials they are working with. However, on the web we can convey texture and give an electronic image a tactile feeling by using background images.

Swap A Frock

I’ll be posting on this particular series every Wednesday for the next four weeks.

Jennifer FarleyJennifer Farley
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Jennifer Farley is a designer, illustrator and design instructor based in Ireland. She writes about design and illustration on her blog at Laughing Lion Design.

DesignDesign Principles
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