Design Rules of Thumb
Principles and Elements of Art/Design


The following are basic rules of thumb in each area of art and design. Use these as a good place to start. Feel free to bend these rules, but only when you understand the spirit of the rule.


Worth checking out: Drawing Prompts - Each artist link provides an opening representative image suitable for drawing by students. Additional images and information are also provided to help students explore the vast posibilities of artistic expression.


Rule of thumb 1. a general or approximate principle, procedure, or rule based on experience or practice, as opposed to a specific, scientific calculation or estimate. 2. a rough, practical method of procedure (Webster's, p 1680).


Design Rules of Thumb

Audience - gives a little insight into designing for your audience.

Image - addresses types of images and elements that support your message.

Layout - provides information on how to use elements within your page layouts for easier readability.

Typography - one of my favorites elements of design, this page addresses definitions and how to use type effectively.

Elements of Art and Design

Andy Goldsworthy - Beneath the Surface Appearance - An overview of Andy Goldsworthy and how he creates works in nature that use line, shape, form, space, value, and texture to help focus our attention.

Color - gives definitions with examples of how to use color, as well as compositional effects of color, uses and psychological effects, printing and computer color, spot color, and a color study chart.

Principles of Art and Design

Balance - gives definitions with examples of the forms of artistic balance, symmetry, approximate symmetry, asymmetry, and radial symmetry.

Contrast - gives definitions with examples of how to use variations in patterns, edges, value, intensity, temperature, texture, size, and shape to show visual relationships.

Emphasis - gives definitions with examples of using focal area, color dominance, value, visual movement, difference, and shape to provide the viewer with context and content.

Rhythm and Pattern - gives definitions with examples and a process for creating and using rhythm and patterns in art work.


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E-Mail Doug at mrdoug@aznet.net or Melissa at mmckinstry@sdja.com


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education and WriteDesign.