top of page

The 7 elements of art you should know

The art methods have changed over the years. For example, the acrylic paint used today is different from the earth paint used in cave art 30,000 years ago. People have evolved and discovered various new products and methods of making new products. From the Stone Age to the Bronze Age and the Iron Age to the technological age, people were always looking for new and better inventions.

Art methods are considered the building blocks for any kind of art. When an artist practices the elements of art, he learns to layer the elements to create visual components in his art. The methods can be used in isolation or combined in a work of art, a combination of line and color. Artists manipulate these seven elements, mix them with design principles, and compose a work of art. Not every work of art contains every one of these elements, but at least two are always present.

Every work of art intends to convey a message or evoke emotions. There are seven main elements of art that artists can use when composing their works. No work of art can be created without at least one of these elements, and most artists use many or all of these elements, consciously or otherwise, to create all their work. Although the knowledge of these elements and the right and wrong ways to use them is a matter of foundational learning, Art, unlike design gives artists the freedom and choice to break these foundational rules and create something truly out of the box.

If you understand the basics of these seven elements of art and master the techniques to use them in the right balance, you can say with confidence that your fundamentals are strong. However, it takes intense practice and effort to use them in novel ways to create something truly outstanding.

Ø Line - It seems impossible to imagine design without the use of lines in some form. That is why lines are considered the foundation of all art and the most versatile element of design. Lines vary in width, length, and direction. When used strategically, these variations can evoke certain psychological responses in the viewer.

Ø Color - also called "hue" - is a crucial element of art because it shows the viewer what the artwork is about. Color has the ability to strongly influence our emotions, our mood, and even our appetite. It is versatile and can convey realism, naturalism, or more abstract ideas. Artists and designers understand the psychology of color and consciously use color to influence consumer behavior.

Ø Shape - Line and shape almost always go together, and they have many of the same properties. Shapes play an important role in the creation of art. Different qualities of shapes evoke different moods and meanings. Classify shapes as either geometric or organic, and define them as positive or negative. It all depends on the message and intent of the artist.

Ø Texture - Texture is generally defined as the "surface quality" of a work of art. Artists can also represent texture visually in two dimensions. In a two-dimensional artwork, the texture gives a visual impression of how a depicted object would feel in real life if you touched it: It can be rough, smooth, hard, soft, or any other surface you can imagine. In three-dimensional works, artists use actual texture to give the work a tactile quality.

Ø Value - value is a way of talking about light and darkness in art. White is considered the lightest value, while black is the darkest. Value is often expressed on a scale from light to dark. Artists often use values to create contrast and draw the viewer's attention to specific points in a work of art. They create images in which light and dark are basic elements of visual perception.

Ø Space - It refers to how a work of art is organized - the area above, below, and within the components of a work. It refers to a sense of depth or three-dimensionality. Space can be positive or negative. Positive space can be described as the subject, while negative space is the area around and within the subject. The contrast between positive and negative space provides balance.

Ø Form - Form is an element of art that applies exclusively to sculptures and other three-dimensional works of art with height, width, and depth. Some artworks have a variable form, especially if they are sculptures meant to change over time. Artists have a lot of latitudes when it comes to form. Forms can be spherical, cubic, pyramidal, conical, cylindrical, and more.

In addition to the elements of art, the principles of art are equally important. They give more structure to the way the elements of art are used and applied and are often understood as the tools that organize them.

Art principles, or principles of design in art, are the means used by an artist to organize the artistic elements in a work of art. Art principles are sometimes called principles of order or principles of design. They help artists and art viewers describe works of art. They provide terminology and definitions that allow for better analysis of artworks. There are some important characteristics of art principles: Balance, Contrast, Proportion/Scale, Emphasis, Unity, Variety, Pattern, Movement, Rhythm, and Harmony. Perhaps one of the most important principles is harmony. Harmony is about the unity and cohesion of a work of art and how all the visual elements work together in the composition.

Balance - Balance refers to the visual weight of the elements of the composition. It is a sense that the image is stable and "feels right" An imbalance causes discomfort to the viewer.

· Symmetrical: Symmetrical balance is when the artwork is symmetrical throughout. The image could be described as a mirror image, such as a painting with two identical buildings on each side, equidistant from each side of the canvas.

· Asymmetric: Asymmetric equilibrium is the opposite of symmetric equilibrium, where each side has the same weight. When objects are not perfectly mirrored, the balance shifts to one side or the other of the axis.

· Radial: Radial equilibrium means that objects are distributed around a central point. For example, the spokes coming out of the hub of a bicycle tire.

Contrast - Contrast refers to the arrangement of different elements in a composition, such as color, space, shape, or other. Contrasting elements attract the viewer's attention. Areas of contrast are among the first places to attract the viewer's eye. Negative/positive space and complementary colors placed next to each other are an example of contrast.

Emphasis - Emphasis means that the artist creates an area of the composition that is visually dominant and attracts the viewer's attention. It means that contrast, placement, size, color, or other features are used to emphasize an object, area, or other elements of the artwork. Emphasis refers to a "focal point" in a composition.

Proportion / Scale - Proportion refers to how the parts of an object relate to each other in composition because of their size or shape. This can be natural (e.g., a nose that fits a face as one would expect), exaggerated (e.g., a nose that is much too small or too large), or idealized when the parts have a perfect proportion that does not occur in nature. Scale in art is similar to proportion, and if something is not to scale, it can look strange. If a person is in the picture and his hands are too big for his body, the picture will look out of scale.

Unity - In art, unity provides a sense of completeness, pleasure in viewing the art, and cohesion in the art, and how the patterns work together gives unity to the image or object. Colors can create unity if they belong to the same color group. Any kind of similarity helps to reinforce the sense of unity you feel when looking at a series of objects.

Variety - Variety is a sense of the difference between the elements of a work of art - the opposite of unity. It provides a sustained contrast, referred to in some sources as "chaos," that captivates the viewer and sustains interest and awe in the composition; it arouses emotion and expression.

Pattern - A pattern is a way something is organized and repeated in its shape or form and can proceed in random repetition without much structure. Some classic patterns are spirals, grids, and braids. Anything can be turned into a pattern through repetition. The pattern is created by the colors, the illustrations, the shape, or numerous other artistic methods.

Movement - Movement is the result of using art elements to move the viewer's eye around and within the image. A viewer automatically sees movement in the image. It indicates the direction your eye is taking when viewing the work. A sense of movement can be created by diagonal or curved lines, either real or implied, by edges, by the illusion of space, by repetition, and by energetic marks.

Rhythm - Rhythm comes from the movement that results from the repetition of elements of art in a disparate but organized manner. They can occur in slow, fast, steady, or jerky intervals, and that says something about the feelings evoked.

Harmony - The difference between the terms is that harmony refers to the way art elements are used together, such as through repetition or rhythm. It can involve similar colors, shapes, sizes of objects, etc. This creates a sense of connection between objects and a sense of flow. Harmony is one of the most important aspects when it comes to the principles of art.

The knowledge of using these elements and principles in the right balance is what creates a piece of art. And the knowledge of transcending these elements is what gives birth to a true masterpiece.


bottom of page