Think graphic design is easy?

Looking at a graphic design composition might look simple at first glance. But when you sit down to create a design you’ll find it takes a certain level of expertise and professionalism.

Graphic designers and web design experts use particular elements to make a composition professional and attractive.

Read on to discover the elements you need to know to create a composition that achieves its goals.

7 Graphic Design Elements You Need to Know to Get the Job Done

1. Color

Some of the most important graphic design elements used in visual compositions include color. And color comes with a history.

Sir Isaac Newton created the first color wheel in 1706. And it’s still used today. Newton discovered that when light passes through a prism of colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, it created a spectrum.

After his discovery, the scientist developed a color wheel that he turned into a visual categorization system.

Today, a wide variety of professionals rely on the color wheel, from scientists to artists to cosmetologists and graphic designers.

The contemporary color wheel contains three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. Primary colors compose all colors, hues, and shades.

Combining Colors

Graphic designers mix colors by combining ratios to make secondary colors (like green from adding blue to yellow) and tertiary colors, and so on and so on.

Designers use the color wheel, as an essential tool to create a variety of artistic representations and promotions.

To create a blended look with like colors, choose colors that appear close together on the color wheel.

For a bolder effect, select contrasting colors located opposite each other on the color wheel such as red and green or yellow-green and red-violet. Contrasting colors will make your color pop.

2. Line

While lines do divide elements on a page, they do much more. Lines also evoke mood, emotion and give energy to a composition.

Lines act as graphic design elements that tie together a composition. They also provide a framework for a graphical composition. Lines provide structure to a design, similar to a blueprint. In a sense, they act as guides.

Professionals work with guides for the purpose of enhancing stability in a design. Lines create energy such as the design of swirls or zigzag lines.

Other ways to use lines include layered designs, composed of several layers, and lines to select fonts when choosing typography.

3. Shape

Shapes act as graphic design elements that define boundaries and borders. Shape comes in two categories: geometric shapes and organic shapes.

Geometric shape examples include circles, squares or triangles. Designers employ geometric shapes to create uniform proportions.

Graphic designers use circles in logo creation to make unified compositions. You’ve seen them used in popular logos such as the Starbucks, BMW, and other logos.

On the other hand, organic shapes make undefined objects unbound by rules of uniformity. Organic shapes can be wiggly and uneven such as the shape of a hexagon that contains uneven sides.

Two kinds of shapes consist of positive shapes and negative shapes. A negative shape is an area around positive shapes. These can sometimes look like optical illusions.

4. Contrast

Contrast concerns graphic design elements juxtaposed together, often side by side, for example, dark and light, or large and small. Contrast in design creates clarity and removes boredom. It adds energy and makes the composition easier to comprehend.

It also draws attention to particular elements in a visual presentation. Without contrast, fonts and images can blur into nothingness and a sea of sameness. Contrast defines objects and elements so the viewer can see and appreciate them.

In typography, using a white typeface on a white or even light background will be lost and difficult to see. Yet, black type on a white background makes the elements legible and stand out.

As you can see in the Carrefour catalog, the contrast of images and numerical elements on the page make the design pop, making the composition pleasing to the eyes and easy to read.

5. Scale

Scale enables the graphic designer to set a focal point.

By experimenting with various sizes in your composition, the artist creates a focal point or featured element. It tells the eyes of the viewer where to look.

Many people mistake size for scale, but the two differ. Size translates to a specific numerical measurement such as a 4″ x 6″ postcard.

On the other hand, scale refers to the relationship between the elements in a composition such as a triangle being triple the size as a circle.

Scale creates a visual hierarchy in your composition. A designer scales elements in a design in a particular order to attract the eyes to certain elements such as a callout circle for a featured product.

Using a high contrast scale presents a good way to draw even more attention to visual elements on a page. This technique enables the artist to use both high contrast and scale to pull the viewer into the promotion or page.

6. Space

Space defines the empty area between elements in your design composition.

Adding space is a necessity in design. If you’ve ever heard a designer say, “This ad needs more white space,” that means the number of elements crowd the design.

This can occur in a composition when a client wants to add superfluous elements or text to fit everything in. But the effect is futile and takes away from the visual composition.

The end result, the elements fight for competition and the design confuses the viewer. When this happens, the message becomes lost.

Additionally, space determines the grouping of elements. A balance achieved between elements makes the design look uniform.

7. Alignment

Alignment in a design acts like an imaginary axis that connects design elements connected through the edges of the elements or through the elements’ center.

You may have heard of the terms center alignment, vertical alignment or horizontal alignment.

Alignment balances a visual presentation–an essential feature when combining textual and visual elements together into a design.

Your visual composition can contain more than one alignment pattern. It may include several alignment patterns to create a sophisticated layering effect.

The Takeaway on Graphic Design Elements

By incorporating alignment, contrast, color, line, shape, space and scale, you can design an attractive visual presentation that conveys your message.The Florida Independent provides high-quality content on a variety of topics from education, health, wellness, technology, travel and more. Visit our website for more great content.

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