13 Principles of Design in Art

Art is a fascinating endeavor, and there are some guidelines that one must follow to create something perfect. There are some principles that you need to follow to turn your ideas into reality. In this article, we will see some of the principles.

What are Principles of Art and Design?

These are just rules and guidelines that recommend how elements of designs should be organized and blended to achieve a perfect match and appearance. They are very elementary, especially where a good composition of the individual design elements is important.

The principles of art enable us to judge how a particular painting was done in a great way. The same principles also keep us from getting into a vague space where no principles can be used to define or criticize art.

 The principles of design in the art include:

  • Pattern
  • Balance
  • Variety
  • Harmony
  • Emphasis
  • Dominance
  • Proportion
  • Movement
  • Rhythm/repetition
  • Unity
  • Contrast
  • Scale
  • space

Below we delve deep into these principles of design in art.

1. Pattern

abstract painting

The pattern is how elements are visually arranged according to a repeating shape or sequence of intelligence. This is a fundamental design concept that is not always obvious.

It is not difficult to ensure patterns in art design. It can just be a simple underlying design that alternates light and dark elements or just the design’s use of certain colors.

In terms of principles of art and design, the pattern is not difficult. Patterns are everywhere, and our eyes are naturally programmed to notice them, even when we don’t. This is the mental trick some artists use to incorporate patterns into their work.

While patterns can be achieved by simply repeating an object throughout the composition, they can benefit from directing focus and emphasis on a specific subject. The pattern highlights the entire composition as a whole and makes it unforgettable.

When it comes to photography, patterns can be achieved through things like texture. Patterns should be integrated into a place where other architectures or works of art are given greater consideration.

This explains patterns as a repetition of elements throughout the artwork and is more common with textiles, wallpapers, backgrounds, etc.

2. Balance

symmetrical balance Art

Another design principle in art is balance. It refers to the arrangement of elements in the design to ensure that no part looks more perfect than the other. Every part of the design should convey that sense of harmony in the use of color and space. There should be tension and balance, either in shape, weight, or space.

In the real world outside of design, balance can be measured on a scale. For example, if two objects of the same weight are placed on the scale, both sides of the scale will balance. However, this is not the way design balance is measured. It’s just a feeling and how the viewer perceives it.

In design, equilibrium is described in three different forms. Below we provide an insight into these three types of balance in design.

  • Formal balance

In terms of formal equilibrium, both halves of the work should be mirror images or the same. The other name of the formal balance is symmetrical balance.

While the formal balance is easily noticeable in any work of art, some argue that it makes the entire work less interesting.

  • Informal balance

In informal equilibrium, also known as asymmetrical equilibrium, two objects that don’t look the same will appear to have the same weight, but in reality, they aren’t. Things that can be used to create an informal balance in the artwork include shapes, colors, values, intensities, etc. It isn’t easy to see an informal balance in the artwork.

For example, when a painting works of art, small shapes can be painted with warm colors like red and look balanced with several larger shapes painted in matte or cool colors.

An informal balance can be achieved in the drawing by moving the larger shapes closer to a central point and the smaller shapes far from the central point.

  • Radial balance

The final form of balance in the design is radial balance, where most of the elements are drawn near the center of the work. An example of radial balance is when a flower is drawn with its petals spreading outward from the pivot point. According to its name, radial equilibrium only radiates elements from a central point similar to the artwork.

3. Variety

variety art

Variety in design refers to the creation of attention or interest by combining one or more elements. It helps break the monotony and increase attention and attraction. When diversity is applied in works of art, it enhances the visual appeal of the entire work.

It’s not difficult to add variety to the work of art. For example, when drawing pictures, the monotony of many curved lines can be broken with a single straight line, and light colors can break up the darkest colors.

4. Harmony

Claude Monets Harmony art

This is simply a mix of elements to create a nice appearance. The mixed elements should be those that have a common or similar interest to achieve an appealing appearance.

For example, rectangles and squares can be harmoniously merged and create an appealing appearance, as both are created with parallel lines.

The most experienced artists use this design principle to connect different work parts by using colors that harmonize into a pleasant combination.

5. Emphasis

Mediodia High Noon art

The Emphasis in design is to make an element or object stand out from the other elements or objects of the same design work. The principle is fundamental for designers, emphasizing the front view or the part that the viewer sees first. It also allows the artist to control how long a viewer will spend time looking at a particular design part.

It is tough to emphasize the design work. While it requires using other elements and design principles in the art to get the emphasis right, it takes planning and foresight for a designer to get it right.

With the right planning and use of the elements, accentuating the artwork shouldn’t be difficult. For example, an artist can use contrasting colors and elements to add accents. The artist can also change the scale of some objects in the design and give them more weight.

In photography, it’s easier to set accents. For example, a photographer can tilt the camera to change the angle or change the subject’s composition. The photographer can also achieve emphasis by increasing or decreasing the subject’s lighting or background and either dragging the subject or far away, which creates an emphasis.

6. Dominance

The Dominance is intended to ensure that some elements dominate other elements in an artwork. It is these design principles that bring about the unity of art.

The best way to highlight dominance in design and art is to repeat an element in a theme. The dominant element should outnumber the other elements in the same work.

7. Proportion

Proportion refers to how parts in a design job behave proportionally to other parts in the same job. Simply put, it’s just a comparative relationship of dimensions and shapes in designed work. It enables the artist to highlight the main elements of a work.

Few steps are required to sort in. For example, some elements that could be considered major elements can be made larger than the others. It’s not just about the size, which is used to highlight the main elements of the work. Also, colors can be used in different proportions to highlight the main elements.

8. Movement

Movement in Squares art

The principle enables an artist to develop a feeling for the action in the work of art. Elements such as lines and shapes can be carefully combined to create a sense of movement in the viewer’s eyes. Different colors and textures can also be mixed to create a path that guides the viewer’s gaze through the work. A rhythmic movement can be created by placing elements in an orderly manner close to one another.

9. Rhythm/repetition

The Poplars Claude Monet Canvas Print

Repetition refers to the repeated occurrence of a single element in the design work. The element can be color, shape, line, or shape. The repetition of an element is intended to attract the viewer’s attention. Repetition can also be used in design to make a specific part of the job more meaningful.

With proper planning, repetition can make you feel like patterns can never end. While the main goal of rhythm in art is to grab the viewer’s attention, it can be used to create user interfaces with repeated elements so that the user can easily find them.

10. Unity

unity art examples by Pablo Picasso

The principle of unity ensures the correct arrangement of the elements to create a sense of completeness. To achieve unity in work, design elements should be carefully placed to create a sense of unity. In the design, the elements shouldn’t seem to go their way.

11. Contrast

In contrast, sometimes known as conflict or opposition, not far from variety. The only difference is how the varying element is used throughout the work. For example, a square can be used to create contrast in design work with circles.

The contrast in the art of design is just that some elements differ from other differences in the same work. The contrast principle helps to achieve focus. For example, if visual elements are placed in work, contrasts can be used to attract attention.

It is a simple logic that elements that do not contrast can be perfected while those with contrast can pop out. To create contrast in your work, scale or resize some elements to create a small or large contrast.

Contrast plays an important role in design work. Indeed, apart from the principle of contrast, any work can appear like a blank page without anything.

Many forms of contrast can be achieved in art. Here we dig more about these shapes.

  • Texture contrast:

 In this form, smooth and structured elements are contrasted.

  • The contrast of Color:

 The name suggests that light and dark, saturated and matte colors are used to create contrasts.

  • Detail Contrast:

This refers to making one particular area more detailed than the other.

  • Shape contrast:

Already from the name, it is designed so that the difference between different shapes such as circles and rectangles is noticeable.

  • Interval contrast:

 Interval contrast is another form that can help bring out a sense of rhythm in the artwork. The intervals are either short or long.

12. Scale

examples of elements of art

Scaling in art means using different elements to create focus and grab the viewer’s attention.

13. Space

elements of art example

Space, which can be either positive or negative, is an ideal component in the design. The space affects the balance of what is being designed.

There is little difference between positive and negative space.

To be considered a positive space, it has to be occupied by objects, not just objects, but filled with the important stuff.

On the other hand, space is considered negative if it lies between objects. You can call it the white space, and it also plays a big role in design.

Although many people confuse negative space with copy space, this is a term that is common among photographers and is used to denote empty spaces. Text can be pasted into copies, but this cannot be the case for white space. When text is added to a white space, it causes some elements to become out of whack and affect all of the work.


Hopefully, this post has clarified the principles of design in art for you. You can now apply the principles in your creative work and, ideally, communicate your thoughts perfectly in art.

Even if you want to incorporate these design principles into your works of art, it is still worth mentioning that you do not have to use all of them for perfect work. You can use some of them and still find something amazing.

1 thought on “13 Principles of Design in Art”

  1. Hi Tom, can you recommend a good easy illustration app for postcards for an iPad bionic 2021 64gb? I am looking for a small economical printer too for the same device!Thank you for your comments!

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