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40 Elements of Visual Design

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Visual design is a plan for the creation of anything that can be seen. This includes information sources such as a webpage and physical items such as a product or building. The following are common design elements for creating visual works.
Alignment
Asymmetry
Background
Balance
Branding
Color
Color temperature
Consistency
Contrast
Depth
Dominance
Emphasis
Focal point
Foreground
Grid
Harmony
Hierarchy
Lightness and darkness
Line
Movement
Navigation
Negative space
Pattern
Perspective
Proportion
Repetition
Rhythm
Saturation
Scale
Shadows
Shape
Space
Stability
Storytelling
Symmetry
Texture
Typography
Unity
Visual flow
Visual weight

Color Theory

Color theory is a body of knowledge about color and its effects that can be useful for selecting colors and developing color schemes.

Analogous Color

Colors that sit next to each other on a color chart that have a similar hue such as yellow and light orange.

Chroma

Chroma is the purity of a color defined as its freedom from tints of white or shades of black. A color that isn't blended with white and black is known as a chromatic color.

Color Harmony

Color harmony is the art of determining which sets of colors match or clash with each other. It's influenced by cultural symbols, emotions and other cognitive factors.

Color Temperature

People view certain colors as warm and others as cool. This corresponds to the colors of elements such as red for fire and blue for water.

Complementary Colors

Colors that cancel each other out when blended to produce a grayscale color between white and black. Pairs of complementary colors have high contrast with one another other. Complementary colors are often used to maximize visibility.

Hue

A hue is any pure color produced from a combination of primary colors. It is common for color selection tools such as color wheels to display a variety of hues.

Lightness

The perceived brightness of a color compared to a perfectly white background. Measured on a scale from light to dark.

Monochromatic Color

A set of colors that all have the same hue with different levels of tinting and shading.

Saturation

Saturation is the perceived intensity of a color viewed directly without a background. Measured on a scale from bright to dull.

Tints & Shades

A tint is any color that is blended with white and a shade is any color that is blended with black. In general, tints and shades are less colorful than a pure hue.

Layout

Layout is the arrangement of a design or creative work. This includes content layouts such as the pages of a newspaper and the layout of writing, music and visual art. In the context of creative works, layout is often referred to as composition. The following techniques apply to both physical layouts such as architecture and visual layouts such as the composition of a photograph.

Adaptability

How well a design handles change on a scale from static to dynamic.
A design element that is meant to catch the eye. Often used to create a sense of order and focus.

Hierarchy

A design that classifies things into a tree-like structure with branches. The opposite approach is to keep a design flat with a minimal structure.

Shape & Form

Shape and form are the physical dimensions of design elements in 2D and 3D respectively.
The unfilled elements of a design that nonetheless may have important functions and aesthetic qualities.

Stability

A tradeoff between designs that stay the same as you use them and those that move or are continually updated.

Style

Style is a distinctive character that comes through in a body of creative work.

Symmetry

Symmetry is a design approach that makes opposite sides of something the same. It is typically achieved by using symmetrical shapes such as rectangles. The opposite approach, asymmetry uses irregular shapes that are more difficult to layout but that may have visual appeal.

Texture

Texture is how something feels or is perceived to feel.

Unity

Unity is a design strategy that gives elements of a design the same structure and appearance.

Variety

A design strategy that embraces diversity of structure and appearance across a design.
Overview: Visual Design
Type
Definition
The creation of visual works.
Related Concepts
Next: Visual Design Principles
More about visual design:
Adaptability
Balance
Color Theory
Composition
Design Contrast
Design Principles
Design Unity
Dominance
Drill Down
Elements
Graphic Design
Graphics
Hierarchy
Information Design
Kerning
Layout
Leading Lines
Media Design
Space
Stability
Symmetry
Texture
Trade Dress
Types Of Design
Typography
Unity
Variety
Visual Design
Visual Design Examples
Visual Experience
Visual Identity
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