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7 of the Fundamentals of Design

Posted: 23 May, 2022

A big part of visual communication is understanding what to use to create a desired effect in your target audience, and why the elements in your design work. For this we often use the Fundamentals of Design. The Fundamentals of Design are the key part of every poster, logo website... every design really. Knowing them is important for a designer so you can design with intention and understanding. However, learning about the Fundamentals of Design can be tricky. There’s a lot of conflicting information that make it easy to get confused.

First things first, we need to distinguish the difference between fundamentals and elements when referencing design. The Elements of Design, categorise all basic visual concepts used to make design and art such as line, shape, form whereas Fundamentals of Design refer to the way we arrange our designs or compositions. This blog will focus only on the Fundamentals of Design.

Rhythm is the flow of repeated elements from one part to another in a design. The transition between elements, like the space between musical notes, can be very different and create many visual effects. It could be regular or random spaces, it could create patterns in the negative space, whatever suits the subject of the design.

Repetition is the use of any element more than once. An example of this is patterns.

Variety is the differences in scale, surface, line, value, and form that give interest to a design.

Movement is the path the viewer's eye takes when looking at composition. It utilises hierarchy and intention but focuses on the journey through the design. What is the most important information? The last? The path should be natural for the eye of the audience.

Balance is the equilibrium of various elements in a composition. When each side of the composition has the same or similar elements, the result is symmetrical balance. Asymmetrical balance results from each side of a composition visually having the same weight, but the two sides are not alike. Radial symmetry is where the design will radiate from the centre.

Contrast is the difference between each element present in a composition, such as dark and light, hard and soft, or big and small.

Harmony is used in designs that are symmetrical and have a feel of completeness, such as designs that use mandalas or similar effects.

Each of these Fundamentals provides different effects, feelings, and aesthetics within a design. There might be many within a design, or just a few. Once you have a good grasp of these concepts and can identify them in designs, you can design consciously with the Fundamentals in mind.


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