E is for the 7 Elements of Design

The 7 elements of design are space, line, shape/form, size/scale, colour, texture, and value. All 7 are imperative to creating visually communicative and appealing designs.

#1 – Space

Space refers to both the positive and negative space in a design. The positive space being where everything is displayed (images, text, etc). And the negative space being empty. More correctly, negative space is where only a solid colour is displayed. Whether that is red, blue, black, or white!

#2 – Line

Lines are everything. Seriously.

They make up the shapes of letters, illustrations, and images. They guide your eye through an image. They invisibly form margins and the horizontal line for your text to sit on.

When used well, lines (both visible and invisible) can guide one’s eye through a design in a pleasing and informative way.

#3 – Shape/Form

Shape/form includes both inorganic and organic shapes.

Inorganic shapes are precisely geometric. So perfect circles, squares, rectangles, etc. are all inorganic shapes.

Organic shapes are more natural looking. In other words, they are not geometrically precise. Every rock is a slightly different shape. We could shave the rock down to create a perfect circle, but it would no longer be an organic shape.

#4 – Size/Scale

Size is one of the mainstays of determining importance in a design. The larger the text or image, the more importance it invokes.

#5 – Colour

Colour can be used to draw attention, evoke emotion, and/or create order. (For more on colour click here!)

#6 – Texture

Texture in a design can be accomplished with both illusion or physical texture. To create the illusion of texture, one must be creative in their use of line and shape. To create physical texture, one can use different types of paper (gloss, matte, bumpy, etc.).

#7 – Value

Value is the tones of light and dark within a design. Value can vary with the use of all the shades of grey between white and black. Every colour has value. There are dark reds and light reds and reds of every shade between.

To really see the value of colours in an image or design, change the image to greyscale. If the image has varying colour values, the image will still be clear and crisp. However, if the image lacks variance in its value, the picture will become dull and/or muddy.

Which element of design is most important to you? (I honestly cannot decide. In the end, they must work together to create a truly wonderful design!)

About the author

Leetah Begallie

Leetah is a writer and graphic designer who lives on Vancouver Island in Beautiful British Columbia. She enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time with her husband (Matt), her dog (Isla), and her three pet rats (Avi, Lily, and River).

She writes mostly fantasy but enjoys tying in other genres to her stories.

2 Comments

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  • these 7 elements are all important, like you say, you have to work them all in to create a good or great design, so I wouldn’t know which one is more important

    what about tools? I guess you can say software does all those 7 things. without them, you couldn’t really design, unless you do it by hand, which we all know, people don’t design by hand anymore.

    to be honest, I hardly think about any of these things when I design but maybe I do it subconsciously & also, the client is always in such a hurry, there’s hardly any time for a designer to think

    have a lovely day.

    • Totally!

      I think that as we as designers get better and better at our craft, more and more of the techniques and “rules” become subconsciously implemented.

      And I think there are still some who design by hand (but they are few and far between!)

      Thanks for the comment 🙂

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