While observing a piece of artwork (e.g., a sculpture or a painting), we analyze its quality in terms of color combination, shape, and the visual appeal as a whole. Thus, a good piece of artwork depends on how well it is harmonized within itself, as well as with the surroundings.

The blend of colors and imagination is vital for making it a masterpiece. The rules and guidelines that are set forth to bring out an impact of the artwork are known as the principles of art. The components of the principles enhance the visual appeal of the image or the design.

Elements and Principles of Art

The elements of art differ from the principles. The aspects that are taken into consideration for analyzing the artwork are actually the elements while the concoction of technical aspects illustrates the principles of art. The elements, when combined with the principles, are used to demonstrate or teach the methodology of the artwork.

For example, the difference between a 3-d and 2-d image is highlighted with colors, shades, orientation, and proportion. The color and shade applied are the elements of art while the technical factors like orientation and proportion relate to the principles. The same view holds true for design principles of art. They include balance, proportion, gradation, repetition, dominance, contrast, harmony, and unity. Each of the factors play a unique role to create a perfect and well-balanced image. The points will be elaborated in the following segment.


» Emphasis

The areas highlighted or emphasized in the artwork captures the interest of the viewer at the first glance. Technically it's the aesthetic placement of the elements to bring out perfection.

» Harmony

The complications of a painting are reduced by harmonizing all the elements. It's a way to make the image appear more homogeneous by using similar elements throughout.

» Movement

Directional movement is responsible for the visual impact of the artwork. Movement depicts actions and the path followed by the eye of the viewer to scrutinize the artwork. It adds vibration and life to the image that is transformed into action.

» Unity

The effective use of the principles and the elements bring out the unity as a whole. The feeling of completeness through appropriate use of the elements result in unity of the artwork.

» Balance

Balance is maintained in three different ways. A picture can be radial, asymmetrical, or symmetrical. In doing so, one has to implement his/her technical skills to paint (and understand) the image and create the balance.

» Variety

Variety prevails in an artwork when different forms and colors are combined harmoniously. In this case, the elements (contrast, size, brightness, color) of art play a key role to make the gradation uniform.

» Proportion

It's the measurement of the quantity of the elements to compose the artwork. The proportions, when enlarged, depict the importance of a figure. Before beginning with the artwork, one has to understand the laws of proportion.

» Contrast

The visual discord created in the composition defines the contrasting features. It presents the difference between the objects by emphasizing the background, shapes, and nature of the objects.

» Rhythm

The recurrence of uniformity is known as rhythm of the elements. The consistency of elements can be maintained by using the same pattern of color and sketches, for the movements (or still) of the objects.


» Form

This aspect is more applicable for three dimensional objects where height, width, and depth of the images are given importance. Sculptures with different shapes like cubical, sphere, pyramidal, etc., are the examples of different forms of elements.

» Texture

The visual effect created by using variation of pattern of natural surfaces is illustrated by the texture of the painting. It is also brought about by using different types of colors. Technically, it has to be tactile.

» Color

One of the most important element of the artwork is the color. One requires complete knowledge about the color mixing technique that involves primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. Tinting and shading are also included in this point.

» Shape

Shapes can be natural (human beings, animals, landscapes, etc.), geometric (triangle, square, circle, cubic, etc.), and organic (leaf, poodle, fruits, etc.). The amount of two dimensional space utilized forms the shape of the object that is further accentuated by the other elements of art.

» Line

The span or distance between two objects is connected by a line. In artwork, lines are used as margins, boundaries, borders, stripes, or for pointing in the right direction. Lines are also drawn to depict movements of objects.

» Value

A monochromatic piece of artwork is always emphasized by contrast to expose the clarity of the image. Thus, the value of contrast effects has more weightage. In simple words, it is the intensity of lightness and darkness of the image.

A deep knowledge about the elements and principles of art is essential for an artist. There are ample books and theories on artwork and design, that help to gather ample information on this subject. They are helpful for attaining perfection, irrespective of the nature of the artwork.