7 Basic Elements of Good Design

Creating a great design involves a lot more than a great idea or inspiration. Talent plays a big role in design, but like in any profession, there are basic rules you have to follow. Design is all about breaking rules, but you cannot break rules, which you don’t know exist. The basic elements of good design you must follow are:


  • Line


The first basic element of design is line. When drawing, the pencil or pen stroke is the line. In Graphic design, line is any two points that are connected. Lines come in handy in space division and help to draw your eye to a particular location. As an example, lines are used to separate headlines, side panel, and content in magazines.

Lines create outlines of a design; they can either be continuous, rough, smooth, thin, or thick. Lines tend to send messages, which are translated in the subconscious. For example, straight lines represent order. Diagonal lines represent movement and kinetic energy.


  • Color


Colour is perhaps one of the most important elements of design. Colour can be used on its own as background or accompanied with other elements such as shapes, lines, or textures. Color, when used, elicits a certain mood depending on the color. Each color, plus the combinations, elicits a different mood. For example, yellow conjures up happy feelings while black does the opposite and elicits a dull mood.

You have to consider the basics of color theories to ensure the color composition gives the right tone, temperature, and mood.


  • Shape


A shape by definition is an area contained within a line. Shape has two dimensions, width, and length. A shape can be free forms such as blob or speech bubbles or geometric such as triangles or squares. Shapes add interest to a design and everything in life has a shape. Design is all about how the different elements in your design create .shapes and the interaction of those shapes.


  • Space


Negative space is mostly misunderstood and not properly utilized. Space between lines, figures, or columns provides a visual breather for your eyes. White space or negative space is an important design element. If you use it correctly, it is capable of transforming your design. White space is not necessarily white, but the negative space can be any color you desire. It goes by the name white or negative space because it is devoid of any elements such as lines or images.


Texture is the quality of the surface in a piece of art. It really does not make sense to worry about incorporating texture into your design when it won’t be touched. We often associate texture with how items feel or look. For example, silky, fuzzy, smooth, shiny and so on. Graphic design and websites, however, rely on the illusion of texture. There are four types of texture in art:

  • Actual
  • Simulated
  • Abstract
  • Invented

Copenhagen Poster remains to be an example one of the leading design houses. From the millions of available artwork, you are definitely on the right path of experiencing the different textures of art and design.


  • Typography


Typography is probably the most important element in web and graphic design. Just like texture, color, lines, the fonts you choose tell a lot about the mood of your design. It is possible to portray a somber or playful mood just by the type of font used. The wording is important in design, but the font is also just as important.


  • Balance and Harmony


There are two different types of balance: Symmetry and asymmetry. Majority of designers and artists prefer asymmetry because it’s eye-catching. Harmony is what you get when all the design elements flow into each other seamlessly. When everything balances and nothing is too much, you have attained harmony.

There are many rules and principles governing design. The basic rules are however simple and design cannot do without them. Line, color shape, space texture, typography, balance, and harmony are the few basic elements that design is pegged on. Rules were meant to be broken in art, but you must at least know the rules before you do.