ELEMENTS OF ART
Elements are components or parts which can be isolated
and defined in any visual design or work of art. They are
the structure of the work, and can carry a wide variety
1. Lines and dots
2. Form, shape and space
4. Texture and pattern
Lines and dots:
A line is a mark made by a moving point/dot. A line is not
necessarily an artificial creation of the artist or designer;
it exists in nature as a structural feature such as branches,
or as surface design, such as striping on a tiger or a seashell.
Lines can be combined with other lines to create textures
and patterns. This is common in engravings and pen and ink
Lines can be drawn, scratched, carves, etched, painted or
woven, while some may be used as short, broken, angular and
short curved. Some may be thick, thin, zig-zag or wavy.
The use of combinations of lines results in the development
of form and value, which are other elements of design.
Qualities of line
Certain arrangements of line are commonly understood to
carry certain kinds of information.
Calligraphy is recognizable as a representation of words,
even when we do not know the language.
Line in the form of maps is readily recognized as a symbolic
representation of a place.
Graphs are another readily recognizable linear device. They
are widely used to communicate quantitative information and
relationships in a visual way.
Line also communicates emotion and states of mind through
its character and direction. The variations of meaning generally
relate to our bodily experience of line and direction.
Horizontal lines suggest a feeling of rest or repose.
Objects parallel to the earth are at rest in relation to gravity.
Therefore compositions in which horizontal lines dominate
tend to be quiet and restful in feeling.
Vertical lines communicate a feeling of loftiness and
spirituality. Erect lines seem to extend upwards beyond human
reach, toward the sky. They often dominate public architecture.
Extended perpendicular lines suggest an overpowering grandeur,
beyond ordinary human measure.
Diagonal lines suggest a feeling of movement or direction.
Since objects in a diagonal position are unstable in relation
to gravity, being neither vertical nor horizontal, they are
either about to fall, or are already in motion, as is certainly
the case for this group of dancers. In a two-dimensional composition
diagonal lines are also used to indicate depth, an illusion
of perspective that pulls the viewer into the picture creating
an illusion of a space that one could move about within. Thus
if a feeling of movement or speed is desired, or a feeling
of activity, diagonal lines can be used.
Horizontal and vertical lines in combination communicate
stability and solidity. Rectilinear forms stay put in relation
to gravity, and are not likely to tip over. This stability
suggests permanence, reliability and safety. In the case of
the man in this family group, the lines seem to imply stability
to the point of stodginess.
Deep, acute curves, on the other hand, suggest confusion,
turbulence, even frenzy, as in the violence of waves in a
storm, the chaos of a tangled thread, or the turmoil of lines
suggested by the forms of a crowd. The complicated curves
used to form the mother in the family group shown above suggest
a fussy, frivolous personality.
Curved lines do vary in meaning, however. Soft, shallow curves
suggest comfort, safety, familiarity, and relaxation. They
recall the curves of the human body, and therefore have a
pleasing, sensual quality.
Uses of lines
1. They enclose shapes
2. Define form
3. Suggest movement
4. Create depth and volume
5. Create mood and express feelings and ideas.
6. Act as a symbolic language and can communicate emotion
through its character and direction.
Form, shape and space:
Shape is an area with defined boundaries. The area may be
enclosed by line, covered by colour, texture or form.
Shapes of objects can be categorised as follows:
a) Irregular shapes
b) Geometric shapes
Are those derived form natural; objects such as plants, animals,
rocks, clouds or waves. These are irregular in character,
Are constructed for specific purposes using instruments like
rulers, set squares and protractors. All geometric shapes
have regular shapes.
Drawing a shape starts with a dot. This is the initial mark
by a pencil and the hand draws it over a surface and a line
is created. As the pencil movement curves and straightens
and the movement continues back to the starting point, an
area that is being enclosed is called "shape".
Shapes vary greatly in size, colour, value, texture, type,
direction and character.
Uses of shapes
1. Represent objects in 2-Dimensions
2. Create illusion of space and volume.
3. Suggest movement
4. Express ideas, imaginations and feelings.
Is the roughness or smoothness of a surface.
Uses of texture
1. To define shape. This can be done by creating a smooth
or rough feeling over an area.
2. To highlight form
3. Create illusions of space and depth. Using texture creates
a 3-Dimensional illusion.
4. Makes a surface appear lively and interesting.
5. To create visual harmony between forms, shapes and spaces
in any given art work.
Value refers to the degree of lightness or darkness of a
surface or a colour. It depends on the amount of light a surface
is able to reflect.
Value can be created on a surface by the use of 2 techniques:
Shading refers to the process of darkening a surface
or colour by adding a darker medium, e.g. inks, dyes, etc.
Tinting refers to the process of lightening a medium
by adding white.
Uses of value
1. To model form on 2D surfaces. With shading and tinting,
the objects tend to appear in 3D.
2. To create an illusion of depth and atmospheric effect,
e.g. in landscape drawing or painting.
3. Suggest movement.
Color proportion refers to the impact of the relative quantity
of a given hue or value used in color compositions.
Psychological Implications of Color
Red is associated with blood, and with feelings that
are energetic, exciting, passionate or erotic.
Orange is the color of flesh, or the friendly warmth
of the hearth fire. The positive implications of this color
suggest approachability, informality. The negative side might
imply accessibility to the point of suggesting that anyone
can approach-- a lack of discrimination or quality.
Yellow is the color of sunshine. This color is optimistic,
Green suggests nature (plant life, forests), life,
stability, restfulness, naturalness. On the other hand, green
in some tones or certain contexts (such as green skin) might
instead suggest decay (fungus, mold), toxicity, artificiality.
Blue suggests coolness, distance, spirituality, or
perhaps reserved elegance.
Violet is the color of fantasy, playfulness, impulsiveness,
and dream states.
Pattern is an underlying structure that organizes surfaces
or structures in a consistent, regular manner. Pattern can
be described as a repeating unit of shape or form, but it
can also be thought of as the "skeleton" that organizes the
parts of a composition.