Elements of Design II

A continuation of Elements of Design I, here are the rest of the seven elements. After this, you should sound like an art aficionado.

TEXTURE:  The way a surface feels, or appears to feel.

Visual Texture:  The illusion of the surface texture gives a visual sense of how an object depicted would feel in real life using shading, blending, variations in colour and line to imply a texture that is hard, soft, smooth, rough, hairy, etc.

Tactile Texture:  Texture that can be touched. It is built by the peaks and valleys of a material. Painters use a technique called impasto to create texture. Van Gogh was a master at this.



VALUE:  Often referred to as tone, value is the lightness and darkness of a colour, or area in a painting. Contrast is achieved when placing two opposing values within close proximity to one another. The use of contrast can be used by artists to achieve a sense of form, a technique known as chiaroscuro (Italian for light-dark). If you’re on the ball with this lengthy post, you may have ascertained that chiaroscuro is another form of modelling.

Giovanni Baglione. Sacred and Profane Love. 1602–1603, showing dramatic compositional chiaroscuro
Giovanni Baglione. Sacred and Profane Love. 1602–1603, showing dramatic compositional chiaroscuro

COLOUR:  This is what I like to call the granddaddy of the elements list, hence why I put it last. Colour is the element of art that is produced when light strikes an object and is reflected to the eye. Those of you who are familiar with photography will recognize the three properties of colour: hue, which is the colour, itself; saturation, or intensity, refers to the strength or vividness of the colour; and value, of course, means its lightness or darkness (shade and tint are in reference to value changes in colours).

The Colour Wheel
The Colour Wheel

Colour can play a grand role in design; it is used to create the other elements, such as shape and space, but it (along with chiaroscuro) is the most poignant way to create emphasis or mood. Visual impacts of specific colour combinations can be achieved with the knowledge of colour theory, using the colour wheel as a tool. This is something that is pretty important in fashion, so I’ll leave it for another post.

Jan Van Eyck. Arnolfini Wedding Portrait,1434
Jan Van Eyck. Arnolfini Wedding Portrait,1434

Now that you know the elements of design, you have the base knowledge for how to read the visual arts. Since fashion is—arguably—a visual art, one can use some of these elements to interpret fashion. As I always say, a seamstress or a tailor can make a garment, but it takes a designer to make it an iconic masterpiece.

You have to know the rules to break the rules.

Click here for Part 1

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