Design is rooted in consideration and proper application of elements and principles. Understanding and using these common terms correctly can make discussing visuals and communications easier.
Design principles can be more literally applied beyond visuals. The three basic principles of design:
Scale: The size of an element.
Contrast: The difference between elements.
Composition: The way elements are combined within a framework.
Elements of design are tangible parts and pieces. While they seem specifically relevant to visual design, they can also abstractly apply to other forms of communication.
Color: Because humans are such visual creatures, color is an important part of our perception. Colors can create changes in human biology. For example, the red has been linked to increases in heart rate. Besides physical effects induced by color, sociological constructs can create emotional reactions and other associations to color as well.
There are three factors that create a color’s appearance; hue, value, and intensity (also called saturation or chroma).
Value: One of the three factors of color, value is an assessment of light described in “light” and “dark” or “high” or “low.” Higher value describes colors with more light (white is the highest value), while lower value describes colors with less light (black is the lowest value).
Shape: Geometric shapes might come to mind first but shape can also be organic and can be found in the space between intentionally placed elements. Shape is often discussed in relation to the boundaries of an object and relation to another shape.
Form: Used to describe shape when it is considered in three-dimensional space.
Line: A shape that has more length than thickness, lines are used to outline, shade, gesture and more. Lines can vary in length, thickness, texture, direction, curvature and degree.
Texture: The perceived roughness and smoothness of a surface.