Composition – the arrangement of elements such as line, value, and form within an artwork; principles of design are considered in order to achieve a successful composition.
Picture plane – the flat surface of a composition
Negative space – the areas of an artwork not occupied by subject matter, but which contribute to the composition. In two-dimensional art, the negative space is usually the background.
Positive space – the areas containing the subject matter in an artwork; the objects depicted, as opposed to the background or space around those objects.
Center of interest – the area of artwork toward which the eye is directed; the visual focal point of the work.
Dynamic – in a state of imbalance or tension
Perspective – an artist’s representation of a three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional surface.
The Elements of Design
Contour lines – lines that describe a shape of a figure or an object and also include interior detail.
Implied line – a suggested line – one that was not actually drawn or incorporated – in a work of art.
- Shape – It is two-dimensional and encloses area; can be geometric or organic
- Form – three-dimensional and encloses volume (or appears to be three-dimensional and appears to enclose volume)
- Value – refers to the lightness or darkness of grays and colors
- Color – different aspects of color are hue, saturation (intensity), value, temperature
- Space / Depth – the illusion of distance
- Texture – an artwork’s actual or implied surface quality, such as rough, smooth, or soft
The Principles of Design
Balance – the organization of the parts of a composition such that the sides of a vertical axis are approximately equal; it can be symmetrical, asymmetrical, or radial.
Contrast – refers to differences in elements such as color, texture, value, and shape. Contrasts usually add excitement, drama, and interest to artworks.
Value contrast – dark and light values placed close together. Black in proximity to white creates the greatest value contrast.
Dominance – a concept that one primary element attracts more attention than anything else in a composition. The dominant element is usually a focal point in the composition
Unity – the sense of oneness or wholeness in a work of art.
Pattern/Repetition – the repeated use of elements or combination of elements forms a recognizable organization.
Movement – a path that the viewer’s gaze is directed to follow because of the arrangements of elements in an artwork.
Rhythm – the result of pattern combined with implied movement. Elements or motifs are combined to create a series of regular pauses (stops and starts) for the viewer’s eyes, similar to the way a drumbeat creates a series of pauses for the listener’s ears.
Proportion – the relative size of one dimension of a shape or form to another dimension of the same shape or form
Scale – the relative size of a figure or object, compared to others of its kind, its environment, or humans
Slideshow: Composition and the Principles of Art