Design Dictionary

The purpose of this Design Dictionary is to clarify common design terms found in posts. This will be accomplished by providing the definition and also contain some visual examples.

Understanding how to create good solid design will enhance your art and creative lifestyle.

- A -

abstract -  [ab-strakt] - visual effect characterized by the simplification and / or rearrangement an image.

accent - [ak-sent] - design element that adds emphasis to the elements of a composition that brings more attention that other features surrounding or are close to. Accent can be created by adding contrast like a  brighter color, darker value, greater size or any other means.

asymmetry - [ey-sim-i-tree] - 'without balance'  lack of balance - having unequal or non corresponding parts

- B -

balance - [bal - uh ns] - a sense of equilibrium. to arrange, adjust, or proportion design elements of a composition. Art principle of organization

- C -

closure - [kloh-zher]- a concept from Gestalt [guh-shtahlt]  psychology in which the mind perceives an incomplete pattern or information to be a complete, unified whole; the artist uses minimal visual clues and the observer brings them to final recognition.


Composition - [kom-puh-zish-un] - the arranging and/or structuring of all the art elements according to the principles of organization that achieves a unified whole; design

Cubism - [kyoo-biz-uh m] - The name given to the painting style invented by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque between 1907 and 1912. abstract

- D -

design - [dih - zahyn ] - the combination of details or elements for a picture or other  work of art; composition

- E -

Element - [el - uh-muh nt] - line, shape, value, texture, and color are the basic elements and artist uses separately or in combination to produce artistic imagery.


- F -

form - [fawrm] - The total appearance, organization, or inventive arrangement of all the visual elements according to the principles that will develop unity in the artwork; composition

- G -

Gestalt, Gestalt psychology - [guh-shtahlt] - A German word for "form". an organized whole in experience. Around 1912, the Gestalt  psychologists promoted a theory that explains psychological phenomena by their relationships to forms, or Gestalten, rather than their parts. In other words, our reaction to the whole is greater than our reaction to its individual parts or characteristics, and our minds integrate and organize chaotic stimuli so that we see complete patterns and recognizable shapes.

graphic (art)- [graf-ik] -  two-dimensional art such as drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, etc.. that generally exist on a flat surface and can create the illusion of depth. Often in commercial applications like posters, newspapers, books and magazines.

- H -

harmony - [hahr-muh-nee] - A design principle of organization in which parts of a composition are made to relate through commonality - repeated or shared characteristics, elements, or visual units. Harmony is opposite of variety.

- I -

- J -

- K -

- L -

- M -

motif - [moh-teef] - A designed unit or pattern that is repeated often enough in the total composition to make it a dominate feature;theme

- N -

negative space - [neg-uh-tiv | speys] - the empty space around an object or form; also referred to as white space. Consideration of negative areas is just as important to the organization of form as the positive areas; balance

- O-

- P -

pattern - [pat-ern] - a repeating element and/or design that can produce a new set of characteristics or orgainzation

positive area - [poz-i-tiv | air-ee-uh] - the subject which is produced by the art elements (shape, line, etc.) or their combination.

- Q-

- R -

repetition - [rep-i-tish-uh n] - The use of the same visual effect - and/or similar visual effects- a number or times in the same composition. Repetition may produce the dominance of one visual idea, a feeling of harmonious relationships, and obviously planned pattern or a rhythmic movement.

- S -

symmetry - [sim-i-tree] - the exact duplication of apperances in mirrorlike repetition on either side

- T -

- U -

- V -

variety - [vuh-rahy-i-tee]  - Differences by opposing contrasting, changing, elaborating, or diversifying elements in a composition to add individualism and interest. Variety is an important principle of organization; opposite of harmony.

visual unity - [vizh-oo-uh l |yoo-ni-tee] - A sense of visual oneness - an organization of the elements into a visual whole. Visual unity results from the appropriate ratio between harmony and variety  (along with other principals of organization) .

- W -

white space [wahyt | speys] - unprinted area of a piece of printing, as of a poster or newspaper page - blank space. White space is as effective in layout as type. balance;berating room

- X -

- Y -

- Z -