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The elements and principles of design

Everyone involved in the creation of visual content, whether knowingly or unknowingly, is juggling a collection of tools known as the elements and principles of design.
Understanding this simple set of tools makes sense of the infinite options available to those whose job it is to make things “look right” or to analyse why things look the way they do.
Design Menu

The elements and principles of design are not a recipe for creating a perfect piece of visual communication, but a knowledge and understanding of these tools opens the doors to a myriad of options and opportunities that may have otherwise remained hidden.

Fine artists, graphic artists, web and game designers, architects, landscape designers, town planners, florists, fashion designers, sign writers, industrial designers – the list goes on and on.

Our interaction with the world is heavily weighted towards visual stimulus. When we are involved in creating objects or images to be viewed by others we need to understand the effect of what we create on those viewers.


An understanding of the elements and principles of design is a vital step to making sense of what we see and create.


Repetition in nature is a common sight, from schools of fish to forests of trees, patterns of leaves to spores on a mushroom. The important thing to notice with natural repetition is the presence of variation...

This Design section of follows on from the original page on The Elements and Principles of Design posted in 1998. The page was a simple design overview and I was often asked for more details on what was posted, hence this expansion.

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