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Principles and Elements of design. A short description.

Discussion in 'Composition, Techniques and Tutorials' started by Commodorefirst, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
      a short summary by Wade Dowdy, www.aestheticphotos.com

    • Elements: Line, Direction, Shape, Size, Texture, Color, Value

    • Line
      : edge created when two shapes meet, may be curved, straight, natural or manmade, implied
      Direction: created by lines, may be horizontal, vertical or oblique, each creates a different feeling and eye movement (example - horizontal tends to be calm, vertical gives balance and strength, oblique indicates movement)
      Shape: an area of form, many times geometric, shape is defined by its perimeter, may be 2 or 3 dimensional.
      Size: the area or relationship of one shape to that of another
      Texture: the surface quality of a shape, may be visually or physically implied, generally rough, smooth, soft, hard, glossy, etc.
      Color: also called hue, may be complimentary, analogous, triadic, etc., may be subtractive (pigmentbased mixing of paint, adding towards black, absence of pigment produces white) or additive, (electronic, or CPU screen, light is added to screen to produce colors)
      Value: the lightness or darkness of a color, Tone is another word for Value.

    • Principles: Balance, Graduation, Repetition, Contrast, Harmony, Dominance, Unity

    • Balance
      : balance between large and small shapes, light or dark, etc. Symmetry/Asymmetrical
      Graduation: size and direction changing gradually, colors changing from warm to cool and dark to light, adds interest and movement to a shape
      Repetition: element repeated with and or without variation, (Rhythm)
      Contrast: opposing elements including color, shape, tone, value, light/dark, lines
      Harmony: the balance or effect of combining similar related elements (colors, shapes) the Proportion of the elements
      Dominance: emphasis of one or more elements and their proportion
      Unity: relationship of the elements to the idea of the work, how are elements linked visually

    • Other:

    • Positive and Negative space: generally objects are +, space around objects is -
      Rules of Third: generally thought that the most interesting or compositional focus may be located at intersection of imaginary lines dividing the study into thirds
      Golden Mean: rules of thirds source, Fibonachi numbers, derived from this ratio 1.618, (0,1) 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, golden rectangle/triangle
      Visual Center: not always the center of the image but the natural focus point
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  2. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    The above is from my handout when I do photography workshops. I even discuss these in regards to wildlife photography and the use of the elements and principles in photographing wildlife.

    Of course other subjects including light, aesthetics, story, what is the imaging conveying, along with photographic techniques being properly done (focus, clarity, cropping, theme, etc etc) all contribute to quality images. Generally thinking about design aspects will enhance your images, and it provides a terminology to discuss photo image quality. I keep my cheat sheet with me when I judge images. Sometimes I forget about a principle or element and images can be seen in a new light upon reflection and consideration of these items.

    Thought this might be helpful for some folks. This comes from my knowledge and background in my career of fine arts education.
  3. I like it. Practical and devoid of "thou shalt always . . ." Thanks Wade.
  4. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Yep, folks also forget that as humans we all have a natural bias to like a certain thing, or element or design principle because of our experience, education, and just natural gut instinct. No right or wrong or absolute! Art is subjective.
  5. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Also take the time to read this thread here on the cafe. Goes into a bit more detail.

    What is Composition?
  6. Thanks, Wade — this is a very useful and nicely summarized write up of some important elements which we sometimes forget in the rush of shooting or processing.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Butlerkid

    Butlerkid Cafe Ambassador Moderator

    Apr 8, 2008
    Rutledge, Tennessee
    Excellent information and very well done!
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Ogden Nash, the British poet wrote verses to go with the French composer, Camille Saint-Saëns’ The Carnival of the Animals'. Since all of us here at the Café are such a stubborn lot, the simple words for the piece on Mules comes readily to mind:

    "In the world of mules,
    There are no rules."

    So appropriate :joyful: 
    • Like Like x 2
  9. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Oh yes!
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