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The 7 Basic and Must-Know Elements of Graphic Design

elements of graphic design

Every little thing you see in your daily life, made by humans. Must have involved some sort of design-related decision. All the man-made products go through by a designer who makes the important decision. Like about the visuals and physical nature of the end product. The decision takes place according to the use and desired visual style. A good design is an effective design. It is absolutely crucial for designers to have a strong understanding of the principles and elements of graphic design. And even the types of graphic design.

Elemonts of Graphic Design

Graphic Design is an art form where a professional combines images, words, and ideas. In order to convey a certain message, piece of information or to produce a specific effect on the audience. In simple words, it is a way of communication through designs and visuals. It has a strong impact in molding the visual experience and emotions of a user. Graphic design isn’t black and white with a little bit of gray concept. Graphic designers don’t just draw attention-grabbing and are full of colorful visuals. But also have a concept behind that creation. These designs are based on some basic elements of graphic design.

The elements of graphic design are like the building blocks of any project. Or the ingredients you need, to create art. If we were to break down the most complex or simple designs. They will still divide into these fundamental elements of graphic design such as line, texture, shape, etc. Any visually appealing graphic design is a result of blending all these elements of graphic design into an aesthetically merged entity. The elements of graphic design are an important concept to know for every single graphic designer. Each of these elements of graphic design has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Let’s take a look at all the basic elements of graphic design to gain a better understanding. By mastering these basic elements of graphic design, you can take your graphic design portfolio to a whole new level.

Line

The line is usually present in every type of design. It’s the first and most fundamental element of a design. They are just more than two points that connect together. It is the starting point for most designers to begin creating their art on a blank canvas. Lines tie together your compositions. While giving them a more professional and polished look. A line or line helps to organize information, imply movement, and define shapes. And to convey emotions depending on their form, context, weight, and length.

elements of graphic design

Lines can hold many attributes giving designers plenty of options to choose from, such as fine, thick, thin, vertical, horizontal, smooth, rough, diagonal, curved, brushed, dotted, broken, dashed, continuous, zigzag, freeform, solid, or many others. All the invisible lines present in the grids of a print design act as a guide by offering direction and more structure. While the visible ones with form and weight are used to convey a variety of messages and moods. These lines are used to create a specific visual impact and other different effects on a viewer’s vision.

For Example

A heavier and dark line conveys stability and draws attention which can also be used to underline a threat. Zig-zagged lines express anger or elasticity when wavy lines express beauty, uncertainty, fragility, or elegance. While scribbled lines express messiness, excitement, or confusion. Even the color of a line holds meaning and has a visual impact.

Lines appear in designs more frequently, such as illustrations and drawings. They are highly common in graphic elements like backgrounds, patterns, and textures. They can also be used in humble composition, for decoration purposes, emphasis, or organization. Whenever working with lines, pay attention to the tiniest details like style, color, texture, and weight. As all of these subtle and minor qualities have a bigger impact on the way your design displays. Always keep a keen eye on places where lines are hiding, for example, in text. You can get very different results by experimenting with different line qualities even in these small places.

All these simple lines help to convey so much. Every professional designer should carefully consider when and how to use them on every project.

Color Elements of Graphic Design

It is the second most important fundamental element of design. These small details might sound a little “not so important” to a normal being. But only a graphic designer understands the importance of choosing the right color for any design. It’s the first thing that comes to the viewer’s notice. Color has the most powerful visual impact at the first glance.

Color

A color can be used alone, as a background, or in other elements of graphic design like texture, typography, shapes, and lines. It is a useful tool for creating a mood, telling a brand’s story, and provoking an emotional response from your viewer. We don’t realize but colors do have an effect on our mind and influence the rest of our body. For any professional graphic designer, a practical guide can be color theory and the color wheel. They can select a single color or combine different colors in an intentionally discordant or harmonious way.

color wheel

Categories

Some of the basic colors are grouped into categories based on their difference and composition.

1.            Primary colors include red, yellow, and blue. These colors can be defined as the “pure-pigment” colors i.e., other colors are made from them. By mixing these colors, you can create a range of different color shades. But there is no possible way to mix other colors to form red, yellow, or blue.

2.            Secondary colors consist of green, violet, and orange. If you mix two primary colors, as a result, you will get these three colors. Mixing yellow and blue makes green, red, and yellow make orange, and combining blue and red makes purple.

3.            Tertiary colors include six colors; yellow-green, blue-green, red-orange, red-violet, blue-violet, and yellow-orange. Whenever you mix a secondary and primary color, you get these colors as an immediate result.

As a graphic designer, whenever selecting hues for any project. Try choosing colors that appear beside each other or directly opposite on the color wheel. Such combinations tend to produce the most pleasing combinations. There is a whole science with facts and figures behind picking colors. Based on their meaning and how they make one feel. It is a must for designers to know about color theory. This basic but extremely informative detail can make the difference between a good design and a stunning one.

To become a professional graphic designer, it’s crucial to have knowledge about tint, tone, chroma work, hue, and saturation.

Space Elements of Graphic Design

It is exactly what it sounds like. Space means the empty areas between the elements of graphic design. When it comes to creating a professional design. The things that may not seem important are just as important as the other elements of graphic design. Creating the perfect amount of spacing and utilizing it accordingly is important for any designer’s work of art.

SPACE

Whenever creating a design, along with considering the elements of graphic design like text and images. Also, consider how they are grouped and arranged in the overall design. Filling every inch of your design may look tempting. But it can be hard to fill every inch of a design while also making it understandable for the viewers. Not enough space in a design can risk it becoming visually cluttered for the user. It’s best to practice giving your elements enough room to breathe.

Spacing gives any design some breathing room. Creates a balance between heavier and lighter visual elements. Makes grouping easier, enhances expressions, gives prominence to messages or images to grab the viewer’s attention, and increases its visual impact. The use of space is to create an illusion of depth or multi-dimension. Space is just equally important as choosing a color for a design. Mainly because it easily comes to notice by the human eye. Understanding the importance of space turns a design to the designer’s benefit and gets the best out of a layout.

It can be used to separate or linking objects together. The amount of spacing you use conveys a specific message. For example; wider spacing tells that they are less or not related. While narrow spacing gives the idea of having a strong relationship. If you surround a visual element with space, you are displaying its importance. But this space can also suggest isolation and loneliness.

Types Of Spacing And Their Uses

Designers use positive space around important visual elements. This is solely used for the purpose of getting attention and gaining the audience’s focus on that particular visual element. In recent times, white space also known as negative space is being used widely. The main reason is that it allows the viewer to read and understand easily. Adding negative space offers an open feeling and light. It has a major impact on how the design is grasped by the human eye. By the term “white space” doesn’t mean to be filled with white only. But it can be any area of a design filled with a single background color. The best example to understand this concept is Google.

Google

How you get the best out of both, positive and negative space can elevate the whole look of your project from amateurish or intermediate level to highly professional.

Image Elements of Graphic Design

Using a powerful image can make or break your design. Graphic designers use illustrations or photographs to express a specific message. Support ideas, tell stories, evoke emotion, and grab the viewer’s attention. Images are a highly effective communication tool. As the saying goes, “a single image is worth a thousand words”.

elements of graphic design

Images in graphic design help to convey any kind of information. And create a connection with the text. The meaning of an image depends on its usage, position, and context. They are also mental images that create a sense of concepts, representations, and ideas. By means of painting, illustrations, and photography. The right selection of photos or images plays a huge part in branding.

Types Of Image

The type of image you choose has a significant influence on graphic composition and communication. A specific type of image might be a better fit to convey a particular message than the other. Illustrations are created by the designer themselves. They help to display their method of creation. By bringing forth fantasy, portraying their content in a subjective way, and display ideal or impossible situations. Photographs are pure, reliable, and environmental. Their use is to represent reality or associated with documentation. Icons or symbols are most commonly used for navigation, diagrams, and identification. Typographic images are typefaces that can be manipulated into becoming an image to convey a message.

Introducing an image doesn’t only help to communicate but also adds necessary action or drama. And creates an overall mood. Make sure to choose a relevant image that helps to convey your story and maximizes visual interest. You can use images with contrasting colors and textures to grab the audience’s attention. Or you can also highlight a particular part of the image to get the majority of their focus.

There is no doubt that images are the most impactful visual tools of communication. But to get the most out of its power, use images thoughtfully and strategically. If used properly, your work will convey more than you ever thought possible.

Shape

No, shapes aren’t just for preschoolers. They are the root of any design, from ancient pictographs to modern logos. Shapes are still popular. Mainly because it is one of the ways to make something stand out.

SHAPE

In graphic design, shapes are forms, areas, or figures contained by a closed outline or a boundary. It is one of the most used elements of graphic design. Since minimalistic designs are completely based on drawings and illustrations, they use a lot of different shapes. Including rectangles, circles, squares, ovals, or any other abstract shape. Majority of the designs either the old style or modern one uses it.

Shapes are the overachiever of a graphic design. It allows you to create patterns, establish layouts, define boundaries. By connecting or separating parts of the design, emphasize portions, interact to create additional elements of graphic design, and create movements and flow by leading the eye from one element to another. To create and manipulate shapes, lines, or images, you can use graphics software such as Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and GIMP.

Example

Exactly like lines, images, and color, shapes also associates with the human mind. For example; squares or rectangles are a basic and structured design that suggests strength, dependability, and balance.  Triangles have cultural associations with power, religion, history, science, and civilization. While circles often equate with love, friendship, community, positivity, and harmony.  The way we use shapes in our designs can completely change the user’s view of perception.

Types Of Shapes

There are two types of shapes that every graphic designer needs to know: geometric and organic shapes. To describe geometric shapes in two words; it will be “uniform proportion” which can include two or three-dimensional forms. Geometric shapes are a set of points that connects by a straight or curved line. It can include all types of shapes like cubes, squares, triangles, pyramids, rectangles, pentagons, decagons, circles, spheres, ellipses, octagons, and hexagons. Usually, geometric shapes are simplistic and abstract.

geometric-and-organic-shapes_orig

On the other hand, organic shapes more commonly known as free-flowing shapes are less proportional, uniform, and well-defined. They are free of any rules. This type includes shapes that don’t fit into any real category like squiggles, blobs, or wiggly-like things. They might also include natural shapes such as vines, leaves, crystals, or other abstract shapes.

By picking appropriate and interesting shapes. You can give viewers a more visually pleasing and attention-grabbing design.

Texture

You may think it’s pretty illogical to think about texture when a piece isn’t even going to be in direct human contact. It’s important for graphic designers to convey texture visually by using illusions. This suggests to the viewers how your work will feel if one could touch it. The texture is a powerful graphic design tool. It was not very popular a few years ago. But, their use is increasing with time and advancement in technology.

texture-1024x447

The texture is the feel of a surface i.e., soft, rough, furry, smooth, glossy, or gooey. It adds tactility, feels, and depth to flat images. Graphic designs and websites rely on the impression and look of texture on the screen. It helps to create a sense of three-dimensional appearance on a two-dimensional surface. By mastering texture, you can make your designs look more professional and polished.

There are multiple ways to experiment with texture in your work. You can take inspiration from your surroundings. People inspired by nature for their designs may want to work with organic textures. They can draw inspiration from stones, fur, flowers, leaves, tree bark, soil, and grass. To make textured backgrounds, you can create an abstract pattern by uniformly repeating two-dimensional elements. To provide extra visual interest, texture typography is also an option.

The texture is replacing single-color backgrounds, overtime. They may look similar but if analyzed closely, you can clearly see the small but effective difference. As a beginner, utilizing texture can add a lot of interest to your work and makes great background images. However, using a lot of texture and going overboard with it in one design can become overwhelming for the viewer.

To categorize, there are several texture styles including concrete, paper, brick, stone, fabric, and natural elements like smooth or flat colors. They can be very subtle or prominent and can be used liberally or sparingly. There are no restrictions as they work with pretty much everything. It should be a part of all types of graphic designs as everything has a surface.

Type

Typography is just as important as other elements of graphic design along with web design. Words are surely important but the style and font of these words are equally essential. The font and style you use tell the reader if you are a playful makeup blog, a serious online news magazine, or a fast-food shop.

Typography_Anatomy-1024x546

In graphic design, the goal is to understand and use the right fonts effectively for the placement of a text while maximizing its impact. Size, typefaces, color, spacing, and alignment of a text, all play a part in this element. Whether you are creating your own typography or choosing a font for a design, make sure it’s appropriate, legible, and goes with the design for your subject. There are several type families such as Times, Helvetica, Serif, and Sans Serif which fall in the category of typefaces.

It affects the overall mood of a graphic design. That is why you have to consider if the letters should be script or print or even if they should have rounded or sharp angles. Another important part of the type is the weightage of your lettering. Thin letters represent elegance and modernity but can also seem fragile in some cases. Thick or large letters tell that the words are important. But, if not used right, they may seem heavy-handed or ruin a design’s balance. You can always choose more than one font or size depending on your design. There is room to incorporate more than one but to avoid clutter don’t exceed three in a single project. 

Designers use type to create images and shapes, display a specific style, and communicate a mood. Understanding the importance of type and its use is a whole different art itself. It’s such a vast element of graphic design that some designers devote themselves to font design only. It requires expert knowledge of type terms, leading, tracking, and all the other anatomies that a designer must understand to create an effective design. Classic and simple fonts are one of the latest brand design trends in 2021.

The bigger picture

You can use these elements of graphic design in any layout or form. Create something unique and generate ideas that are out of the box. A professional designer combines and utilizes these elements in ways that complement each other. It’s not necessary to use all seven elements in a single design. But it’s important to learn and use each concept wisely. If you succeed, you will be well on your way to creating a fresh, communicative, visually appealing, and professional graphic design.

You can use these elements of graphic design in any layout or form. Create something unique and generate ideas that are out of the box. A professional designer combines and utilizes these elements in ways that complement each other. It’s not necessary to use all seven elements in a single design. But it’s important to learn and use each concept wisely. If you succeed, you will be well on your way to creating a fresh, communicative, visually appealing, and professional graphic design. Read more about user experience and responsive web design.

The catch

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