The Elements and Principles of Design
The Principles of Design are:
Balance - Balance is a sense of rightness, a feeling that the design elements are all in their proper place in visual relation to each other. Each of us has our own particular sense of balance and this is reflected in the designs or arrangements that we make. The balance may be symmetrical or unsymmetrical.
Contrast - Contrast is the symmetrical or unsymmetrical visual arrangement made by placing elements of differing characteristics in close relation.
Emphasis - The design elements are used to create an area of interest that draws attention to the design.
Proportion - Proportion refers to the size, shape, amount and location of the design elements in relation to each other. The proportions may be similar, different, real or implied.
Pattern - Repeating a design element over and over again creates a pattern.
Gradation - Gradation is used to create aerial and linear perspectives. The gradation can give the design a better form, direction and movement. Color gradations move from light to dark and from warm to cool. Line gradations vary in length, thickness and direction.
Composition - The whole arrangement of the design elements is called composition. This topic will require an entire article on its own, but, on the whole, it is not like putting a radio together. You don't have to arrange the design elements in any specific ways. Yes, there are certain rules of composition, but these are only based on ideas that people tried and found workable. You can come up with your own unique compositions; it can take much practice and a discerning eye to come up well-balanced compositions.