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  • Nayda Cruz

Graphic Design Elements

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.

Structural elements

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.

graphic-design element-point


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.

graphic-design element-line


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.

graphic-design element-shape


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.

graphic-design element-form


A form combines points, lines, and shapes to create volume. It has height, width, and depth.

graphic-design element-space


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.

graphic-design element-color


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.


This blog is the second one of a blog series called “The Building Blocks of Graphic Design”. You can read the first one here "What is Graphic Design". The next topic is “Graphic Design Principles”.

They support my Skillshare class “Design for Non-Designers: How to Create a Functional & Attractive Design”. Skillshare is a paying platform with thousands of classes about design, business, creativity, and lifestyle. As a teacher, I an able to invite you to join a free trial for 1-month! If you are interested, click here.

This blog is a space to learn about design and how it intertwines with life; and also about technical aspects of design. I invite you to join my email list. This way you will receive a message every time I publish a new blog. I respect your privacy and will never share your personal information.


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