"The task of artists is to organize elements
into a comprehensible whole by simplifying,
organizing and unifying
." - Kenneth Bates

The Principles of Design

Welcome to an easy-to-understand description of the basic concepts of art and design including the principles of design for art students, beginning artists, and designers.

Unity, the overall goal of an artist, is the organization of the parts into an orderly, pleasing arrangement. It's a quality of oneness in a composition or form.

The Principles of Design are the concepts that are used to organize the elements.

The Basic Principles: Harmony, Variety, Balance, Movement, Emphasis, Dominance, Rhythm, Proportion

  • Harmony (consistency, sameness) - a quality of order and compatibility; an orderly, pleasing arrangement.
  • Variety (contrast, opposition) - a quality of diversion, disunity, or tension in a composition.
  • Balance (stability) - the equilibrium of weight, attention, and the various art elements in an image or design.
  • Movement (continuity) - paths followed by the eye when viewing a composition.
  • Emphasis (focal point, center of interest) - the part of the image or design which demands the most attention.
  • Dominance - the control of the visual impression by one of the formal concepts of art.
  • Rhythm (pattern, repetition) - a regular recurrence of elements or motifs in a measured organization; a periodic, systematic placement or movement.
  • Proportion (scale, comparison) - the relation between connected things or parts; relative size

Recommended External Links

Design Structure
A great Beginning Guide to Composition in Art by
Dennis Navrat, Professor of Art, University of South Dakota