In this series, I’m covering the elements of design, and in my last blog, I went over the basics of line, shape, and space. Recall that the elements of design are the fundamental building blocks of design and have an impact on how a piece of work is executed and perceived. Artists and designers have significant influence over people’s everyday experiences, and the American philosopher and psychologist John Dewey writes in his book, Art As Experience, “In order to understand the aesthetic in its ultimate and approved forms, one must begin with it in the raw; in the events and scenes that hold the eye and ear.” In other words, he encourages us to go back to the basics.
Everything has a form: if an object has height, width, and depth, then it is a form. Forms are three-dimensional, and like shapes, they come in two types: geometric (mathematically precise) and natural (organic). A form can be created from the combination of shapes and further enhanced by color and texture. Now that we live in the age of digital design, you can also think of form as the object that you’re designing for. For example, if you’re designing for a mobile device, the phone is your form.
When we think of texture, we associate it with the sense of touch. In the case of design, texture is the way that a surface feels or is perceived to feel. Sometimes in the case of print design, there may be a physical texture achieved through embossing or a similar technique. Digital design relies on visual textures where we can see an implied texture even though we can’t feel it. Textures can create a more three-dimensional appearance on a two-dimensional surface and build an immersive world.
Color can be applied to any of the aforementioned elements of design to help with the design’s organization or to give emphasis. Unlike some of the other elements covered, color is not always a necessity; a design can still be effective even with a lack of color. It can be used sparingly or in a rainbow of colors, and to learn more about how to use color effectively, you can check out my blog on color theory.