If you are one of our regular readers, you know we cover a broad range of topics, including active learning strategies, learning to play new instruments, and much more. In this blog post, we are going to cover several basic graphic design concepts.
This article will answer common questions like “What are the elements of design?” and “What is the elements of design definition?” It also breaks down each of the individual graphic design basics.
After reading this article, you should better understand the elements of design. We’ll even show you how you can learn to become a graphic designer using our online platform.
Why Learn the Basic Elements of Graphic Design?
If an individual is interested in acquiring graphic design skills, they must first understand the basic visual design elements. In addition, modern graphic designers must have strong computer skills.
Graphic design is a growing career field that offers many exciting job opportunities. Businesses in just about every industry need talented graphic designers to create content for their digital marketing campaigns. Graphic designers can partner exclusively with a single company or can take on freelance work.
Graphic design is not only an excellent career path, but it is also an enjoyable hobby. Artistic individuals will love the opportunity to create unique and captivating digital content. They can leverage the basic elements of graphic design to bring their ideas to life.
Elements of Design Definition
Before we delve into the basic elements of graphic design, it is important that we are working from a common graphic elements definition.
“Graphic elements” can best be described as the fundamental components of graphic design. For those interested in pursuing graphic design as a hobby or career, you must understand each of these building blocks. You can break down even the most dynamic content into simpler parts, such as lines, colors, and shapes.
What Are the Elements of Design?
Without lines, all of the fine details within a design would be lost. That is why lines are perhaps the most important of the seven elements of graphic design. Lines give designers the ability to make colors, shapes, and images pop. When used properly, lines can even help designers convey an emotion or simulate movement.
Graphic designers have tons of options when selecting what lines to use within a piece of content. They can use lines that are vertical, horizontal, or diagonal. In addition, they can mix up line weights or thicknesses to accent different aspects of the design.
Lines lay the groundwork for any piece of graphic design content. Therefore, designers must carefully decide when, where, and how to use lines. For instance, if a designer wants to create a piece that appears energetic and vibrant, they should incorporate atypical zig and zag lines. Conversely, more formal content should rely on big, bold lines that emphasize key pieces of information.
Each of the basic elements of graphic design builds off of each other. For example, lines are used to create distinct shapes within a piece of content. A shape is created anytime the designer uses lines to enclose a section of the page.
When discussing shapes, most people think of “geometric shapes.” However, there is actually another class of shapes that graphic designers can create, which are known as “organic shapes.”
Geometric shapes can be three-dimensional or two-dimensional, depending on the complexity of the content. Designers create geometric shapes by connecting a series of straight or curved line segments. Geometric shapes are almost always simple, traditional designs.
A few of the most common geometric shapes include triangles, squares, rectangles, and circles. Rectangles, in particular, are especially popular when designing basic web pages or ad content. This popularity stems from the fact that virtually every device (laptop, tablet, smartphone) has a rectangular screen.
Most graphic designers master the use of rectangles and other geometric figures before moving onto organic shapes.
After developing a good grasp of graphic design basics, many designers start including organic shapes into their content. Unlike geometric shapes, organic shapes do not have to be proportional or uniform. The designer can make organic shapes that are asymmetrical or symmetrical, depending on their preference.
Organic shapes may emulate natural objects, such as snowflakes, or they could be entirely abstract. Many graphic designers prefer using organic shapes when they need to grab the viewers’ attention.
Color is one of the most effective visual communication tools. It is also the third of our seven elements of graphic design.
The practice of effectively incorporating multiple colors into a piece of content is known as color theory. Graphic designers must understand how to choose colors that complement or contrast one another in meaningful ways.
For instance, let’s say that a graphic designer has created a foreground image and a backdrop to create the illusion of depth. In this scenario, they must carefully select the appropriate colors for each component of the content. If they choose colors that are too similar, then all images will blend together or appear to be on the same plane.
Graphic designers often group colors into one of three categories. The first category is known as the “primary colors.” The three primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. Every other color is created using some blend of these three colors.
The second category is referred to as “secondary colors.” The three colors in this category are formed by combining two of the primary colors. Green is created by combining yellow and blue. Purple is made by mixing blue and red. Lastly, designers create the color orange by combining red and yellow.
All other colors not named above can be classified as tertiary colors. Once an individual has a strong grasp of color schemes, they are ready to learn the remaining elements of graphic design.
What is the Color Wheel?
The color wheel is a concept that is used to visually represent and organize colors based on wavelength. When learning the elements of graphic design, the color wheel is a valuable tool.
Graphic designers can use the color wheel to create what are known as “Color harmonies.” There are several subtypes of color harmonies, which include:
- Complementary colors
- Triad color schemes
- Analogous colors
- Rectangular color schemes
- Square color schemes
Complementary colors are two colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel. Complementary colors sharply contrast one another. Conversely, analogous colors are directly next to each other on the color wheel.
As the name suggests, triad color schemes incorporate at least three different colors from the wheel. These colors are usually spaced evenly apart from one another. Rectangular and square color schemes each use four different colors.
Now that we have covered the concept of colors, let’s move on to the rest of the elements of graphic design.
Fourth up on our list of the basic elements of graphic design is texture. When it comes to adding texture to a piece of visual design content, the options are just about limitless.
Some designers like to add natural textures to their work. This approach may include things such as flowers, stone, or grass. Other graphic design pieces might create texture by using repeating, abstract figures in the background.
The purpose of texture is to add another layer to graphic design pieces. However, the designer mustn’t make the content “too busy.”
When discussing the basic elements of graphic design, many individuals do not realize that type or font is actually an integral part of visual content. Whether a graphic designer is creating their own custom typography or using a default font option, it is vital that they make the right choice.
Font impacts the overall mood or tone of a piece of visual content. Therefore, the type must align with other components of the content, such as the color scheme and layout.
For instance, a professional piece of content should generally use a consistent, highly legible font. A whimsical script that is brightly colored can negatively affect the otherwise serious tone of the material. Using a font that does not compliment the other elements of graphic design can cause the message of a project to be lost on the viewer.
Graphic designers should carefully select each aspect of the type they use. They must choose between print or script, rounded or sharp lettering, font size, font color, and letter thickness. While designers can use multiple types on a single project, they should generally limit themselves to no more than three fonts.
In graphic design, what isn’t there is almost as important as what is. We are talking about our sixth basic element of graphic design, space.
The right amount of spacing can give visual content room to breathe. A little bit of empty or negative space can go a long way. Without space, vital aspects of a graphic design can get lost in a sea of content.
Spacing is not only used to separate elements within a piece of content. Small amounts of space between a pair of shapes convey the idea that the two components are closely related. On the other hand, large gaps can indicate that the designer is transitioning to another topic.
The last of our elements of graphic design is “Images.” The right image can captivate the viewer and keep their attention long enough for them to digest the rest of the visual design content. Designers can incorporate either illustrations or photographs into their work, depending on preference and the purpose of the content.
When choosing an image, it is essential that the designer selects a picture that relates to the project as a whole. The mood of the image must also align with the general tone of the piece. A well-placed image or two will significantly improve the effectiveness of graphic design materials.
There you have it. That concludes the seven basic elements of graphic design. Now for the fun part, learning how to apply graphic design concepts so that you can create exciting pieces of visual content.
Ready to Learn the Basic Elements of Graphic Design?
Now that you have reviewed the seven key visual design elements, you can start learning some basic graphic design skills.
While it will take some time to become proficient as a graphic designer, your efforts will be worthwhile in the end. If you want some help along the way, we recommend connecting with an experienced graphic design instructor.
You can book your first lesson using our easy, three-step process. First, search for instructors until you find the right match. Next, meet up with them either in person or online. Once your lessons are scheduled, all that is left to do is master the elements of graphic design.
Takelessons looks forward to connecting you with vetted teachers via our online learning platform!