Graphic Design Elements
The first time I opened Photoshop
I remember the first time in my life I opened Adobe Photoshop. I was in my house living room facing the window. It was like opening a book in another language.
It was early Summer, I just transferred from university to enter the Graphic Design Department. Field of which I knew NOTHING about.
All I knew was that as a Kid I loved crafty toys and that I was an “expert” in Microsoft Publisher. I wanted to learn more. I decided that the worst thing that could happen to me was to fail and must return, shamefully, to the department of Social Sciences and try to choose a major.
So that Summer I bought a Photoshop book and downloaded the free trial of the program. To try to be somewhat prepared for the next semester. Little did I knew. Graphic Design is much, much, more than knowing how to use the Adobe Programs.
Back in the day, when there were no computers, Graphic Design existed. We may look as back as to the Lascaux caves in France. Where some of the first written records can be found.
This is because Graphic Design is it's made up of a structure that include what is known as “elements”. These are: point, line, shape, form, space, color, and texture. Let’s dive into them.
Point is the most basic structure. It has a place but not extension. If used as a unit it can form other elements such as lines or shapes.
A series of connected points creates a line. A line can be straight, curved, and in various weights, creating extension and direction. It can be used to create emphasis, movement, connect elements or create patterns.
Shape is a closed line with height and width withing an area. Shapes are what constructs the design. It can be geometric, organic, or abstract.
Geometric shapes consist of edges with uniformity. For example, a circle, square or a triangle.
Organic shapes represent more realistic object, usually found in nature around us. For example, leaves, animals, or humans.
Abstract shapes are a simplified organic shape.
A form combines points, lines, and shapes to create volume. It has height, width, and depth.
Space is around points, lines, shapes, and forms. It’s often called the negative space. It is not tridimensional but a depth. It can separate or group other elements. It is used to create emphasis or to give a place to rest to the eye in a design.
Color is the effect of light wavelengths reflecting surfaces and going through our eyes. It communicates emotion and creates visual interest. It has three properties: hue, saturation, and value.
Hue describes color. As a standard it refers to the primary and secondary colors. The primary colors are red, blue and yellow. These colors are unique. Which means they cannot be made by mixing any other hues. The secondary colors are purple, green and orange. Which are the halfway colors between the primary. Secondary colors appear when you mix two primary colors in equal amounts
Saturation is the purity of a color when it is the most intense. It contains no white, no gray and no black. It is classified as “chromatic”. When a complementary color, or gray or black, is added to a saturated color, it becomes less saturated.
Value determinates how close or far a color is from black or white. The darker the color, the closest it is to black and the lower it is it's value. The lighter the color, the closer it is to white and the higher it is it's value.
Texture is a surface that can create a visual illusion as rough, smooth, soft, hard, glossy, matte, between others. It can be created using any other element of graphic design such as points, lines, shapes, or color.
Take a closer look
For me, the best way to learn a language is by listening people speaking it. The same applies for design. So, the next time you see a design, whether it is an advertisement, a magazine, or a flyer; take a closer look. Study how the elements that gives structure to the design are being used. Then apply those finding to your next project.
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