Elements and Principles Drawings

In class we went over the definitions for the Elements and Principles of Art.  If you missed them for some reason, they are provided here so that you may copy them into your sketchbook.

The Definitions

Elements of Art: The basic visual symbols used by artists to produce artworks.

  • Line: A mark made by the artist to describe something. These marks can define the edges of an object, details on an item, or the texture of a surface. Line can be used as a tool to lead a viewer’s eye, and may be implied rather than depicted.
  • Shape: A two-dimensional (2-D) area defined in some way. Other Elements of Art may define shapes.
  • Form: A three-dimensional (3-D) volume defined in some way. Other Elements of Art may define forms.
  • Space: The emptiness between, within or around objects. In short, the gaps, holes, and expanses.
    • Positive Space: space occupied by an object.
    • Negative Space: empty space.
  • Value: The lightness or darkness of an object or color. Value is dependent upon the effects of lighting. Shading is a type of value.
  • Color: Derived from reflected light. Color has three properties:
    • Hue: the color, the name of the color.
    • Value: The lightness or darkness of the color.
    • Intensity: The purity of the color, also known as saturation.
  • Texture: Either how an object feels, or how an object looks like it would feel if it could be touched. Texture is perceived with both touch and sight. There are two types of texture:
    • Simulated Texture: the illusion of texture.
    • Actual Texture: a real texture that can be seen or touched.

Principles of Design: The rules artists use to make their art. May also be referred to as composition.

  • Balance: Equalizing visual forces (things) in a work of art.
    • Formal Balance: Using similar elements (shapes, colors, values) to balance the picture.  Left resembles right; the image is symmetrical.
    • Informal Balance: Using different elements (shapes, colors, values) to balance the picture. Left does not look like right; the image is asymmetrical.
  • Proportion: Size relationships. These relationships can be between one object and another, or parts of an object to the whole. When talking about scale, one is talking about proportion.
  • Emphasis: Making one thing more important than all the others. This may be done through contrasting colors, contrasting values, scale, etc.
  • Harmony: Making everything match. Harmony is created by related, similar, or repeated elements within an artwork.
  • Variety: Using lots of different elements (colors, shapes, etc.) or objects in order to make the picture more interesting.
  • Rhythm: The repetition of elements (shapes, colors, etc.) or objects.  A Rhythm may make a pattern. Rhythm can also imply movement.


Here is a link to an external website that explains the Elements and Principles with the help of graphics.

 The Assignment

  • You will need 4 pages in your sketchbook.  We will use the front and back of each of these pages.
  • Divide each page in half.  The upper half will be for a drawing, the lower half will be where you attach a magazine photo.
  • You are to choose 4 Elements of Art and 4 Principles of Design.
  • On the top of each page you are going to illustrate one of these words, demonstrating the concepts through the pictures you created.  That means you will be doing 8 drawings, using the front and back of 4 pages.
  • Each drawing should be labeled with the Element or Principle of Art you are trying to show.   (If you choose balance, be sure to tell me which kind of balance you are using.  If you choose color, just stick with color rather than trying to illustrate hue.)

Elements and Principles example, Ivan Cortes

On the bottom of each page, you will be selecting and attaching magazine photos that demonstrate the asked for concept.

  • Select photos that demonstrate the elements and/or principles you chose
  • Glue them directly below the corresponding drawing

This is a formative grade.