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The elements are components or parts which can be isolated and defined in any visual design or work of art. They are the structure of the work, and can carry a wide variety of messages. The details may be differentiated by researchers, but I included ‘point or mark’, ‘line’, ‘shape’, ‘forms’, ‘space’, ‘color’, and ‘texture’ in this article.

1. Point or Mark

A point or mark is the smallest and most basic element. Often it is the personal ‘handwriting’ of the artist that can be natural or learned. These can vary in size, value, regularity or irregularity, and can be used alone or as a unit in a group which forms a line or shape in the image. Marks can be used to form a value or pattern (placed close together forms a darker value, further apart forms a lighter value), or to delineate space. The Impressionist painters used what could be called patches and the Pointillists, such as Seurat, used the dot.

Even though there is only one point or mark on a white blank page, it can catch our sight. If there are two points, we will make a connection and see a line. If there are three points, it is unavoidable to interpret them as a triangle, the mind supplies the connections. These are called as grouping or gestalt. Gestalt is the fundamental tool the designer or artist uses to build a coherent composition.

2. Shape

Shape is an area that is contained within implied line, or is seen and identified because of color or value changes. Shapes have two dimensions, length and width, and can be geometric or free-form. Design in painting is basically the planned arrangement of shapes in a work of art. In a picture, the shapes that the artist has placed are considered the positive shapes. The spaces around the shapes are the negative spaces. It is just as important to consider the negative space in a picture as the positive shapes.

3. Line

A line is a form with width and length, but no depth. Artists use lines to create edges, the outlines of objects. A line is created by the movement of the artist’s pen. The direction of a line can convey mood. Horizontal lines are calm and quiet, vertical lines suggest more of a potential for movement, while diagonal lines strongly suggest movement and give more of a feeling of vitality to a picture.

4. Forms

Form describes volume and mass, or the three dimensional aspects of objects that take up space. (Shape is two-dimensional) Forms can and should be viewed from any angles. When you hold a baseball, shoe, or small sculpture, you are aware of their curves, angles, indentations, extensions, and edges their forms.

5. Space

Actual space is three-dimensional volume that can be empty or filled with objects. It has width, height, and depth. Space that appears three-dimensional in a two-dimensional painting is an illusion that creates a feeling of actual depth. Various techniques can be used to show such visual depth or space.

6. Color

Color has three properties. The first is hue, which is the name of the colors. The primary hues are yellow, red, and blue. Secondary colors are made by mixing two primaries. Intermediate colors are mixtures of a primary and adjacent secondary color. The second property of color is value, which refers to the lightness or darkness of hue. The third property of color is intensity, which refers to the purity of the hue.

7. Texture

Texture refers to the surface quality, both simulated and actual, of artwork. Techniques used in painting serve to show texture, i.e. the dry brush technique produces a rough simulated quality and heavy application of pigment with brush or other implement produces a rough actual quality.


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