Great design is more than just inspiration or a great idea. Whether you’re a seasoned graphic designer or a hobbyist just starting out, it’s important to start by mastering the fundamentals, in this case, the elements of design. Think not of these elements as a hard and fast rule on how to design but rather as helpful guides. Elements of design are the essential building blocks of design and have an impact on how a piece of work is perceived, executed, and used. Regardless of skill or style, these elements are used in every design. 

Line

The most simple definition of a line is the connection between two points. In drawing it refers to the stroke of a pen or pencil (or other desired instrument), and while there are a few differences between lines in traditional media and digital design, there are some things that are always true. A line is always longer than it is thick, and can be broken, unbroke, or implied. Lines are useful for dividing up space and drawing the viewer’s eye to a certain point within the composition. Many points comprise a line, and lines create shapes, which brings us to our next element.

Shape

A shape is a two- or three-dimensional object that stands out stands out from the space next to it due to a defined or implied boundary. Ultimately, all elements of design are shapes in some way, so you must think in terms of how all the elements of your design are creating shapes and how those shapes are interacting. Whether they are geometric or organic, shapes are used to add interest. 

Space

Space refers to the area surrounding an object, whether that’s in front of, around, above, below, or behind an object. Objects in space can be in two or three dimensions; shadows, shading, and overlap can all be used to define an object’s place in space and create the illusion of a third dimension. In graphic design, something that is commonly underutilized in designing for the page is negative space. Negative space refers to the parts of the design that are left blank. Rather than filling up the entire space on a page, negative space can be used to add impact and emphasis. Do not fear the white space!

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