The Elements of Visual Art and Photography

Here is a link to a MOOC from Michigan State University that disucusses the elements of visual art:

Week 1 of this Course Discusses The Elements of Visual Art. In this blog post, I am highighting some of the points that were made during Week 1.

Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Photography, and all other media for making visual art employ the Elements of Visual Art which are Line, Shape, Form, Tone, Texture, Pattern, and Color.

The Elements of Visual Art


Shape is the 2-D Aspect of a Person Place or Thing.
Shape indicates no sense of depth.

Form is the 3-D Aspect of a Person Place or Thing.
Form has indicates a sense of depth

The lights and shadows indicate depth. The light areas generally portrude in some way and catch the most light. The dark areas are in the recesses. The darkest areas are the most recessed and covered areas, and a range of values of light and dark are generally there. Showing the relationship between the lights and the shadows expresses value and value expresses form.

Texture has to do with the tactile aspect of a person, place or thing.
We can create the sense of texture by manipulating light and shadow.

 Photograph that suggests lines, but the lines are not composed well.

 Photograph that suggests lines, and the lines are  better composed. This photograph seems to be better organizes, and the lines seem to lead toward more resolved and settling directions.

Implied Lines

 This photograph has implied but invisible ines. Because of the direction in which the fish are moving, the lines seem to lead diagonaly from lower right to upper left. The mind’s eye connects the pattern of repeated, similar visual elements to create an implied line.

 This photograph has the implied but invisible arced line from the lilies. The mind’s eye connects the pattern of repeated, similar visual elements to create an implied line.

Vertical Lines

 Vertucal lines convey a sense of solidity.

Horizontal Lines

 Horizontal Lines. Because Westerners read horizontally from left to right, we react strongly to horizontal lines.

 This is still a picture with horizontal lines.

This image has both horizontal and vertical lines.

Diagonal Lines

 Diagonal Lines communicate a dynamic sense of movement.

 The tree limbs provide a meshof diagonal lines that lead throughout the picutre frame.

 This picture has both diagonal and vertical lines.

 This picture has dianongal, horizontal, and vertical lines.

 This picture has an implied diagonal line, as well as horizontal lines.

S-Curved Lines

 S-Curved Lines wind their way through a picture with gracefulness and smoothness.

 This picture has S-Curved Lines, Horizontal Lines, Vertical Lines, and a few Diagonal Lines.

Radiant Lines

Circular Lines

Pattern results from a rhythmic repetiton of several similar items in a common direction. The above image has pattern. The following image does not convey a sense of pattern.

 The fish in this image are not rhythmically placed, and they move in several directions.

 Even though the masks in this photo are not identical, they are similar and they rhythmically move in a pattern-like way.


A Successful Composition Is One That Creates Rhythm.

The key goal of composition is to arrange the elements of the picture so that the viewer’s eye flow flows throughout the picture area.

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