Advanced Art

Analyzing Art for the Sustained Investigation

Art 3 and AP

10. Principles of Good Composition –


  1. Vary sizes and shapes

  2. Repeat lines, shapes, etc.

  3. Overlap elements

  4. Run objects off the page

  5. Place elements to control how the viewer’s eye flows back into the artwork

  6. Never center objects on the page

  7. Contrast values and colors

  8. Balance positive and negative space

  9. Fill the space

Good composition is achieved by using the Elements and Principles of Art

7 Elements of Art –

Line– An element of art defined by a point moving in space. A line may be two or three-dimensional, descriptive, implied, or abstract.

Shape– An element of art that is two-dimensional, flat, or limited to height and width.

Form– An element of art that is three-dimensional and encloses volume; includes height, width, AND depth (as in a cube, a sphere, a pyramid, or a cylinder). Form may also be free flowing

Texture– An element of art that refers to the way things feel, or look as if they might feel if touched.

Value-The lightness or darkness of tones or colors. White is the lightest value; black is the darkest. The value halfway between these extremes is called middle gray.

Color– An element of art made up of three properties: hue, value, and intensity.

• Hue: name of the color

• Value: hue’s lightness and darkness (a color’s value changes when white or black is added)

• Intensity: quality of brightness and purity (high intensity= color is strong and bright; low intensity= color is faint and dull)

Space– An element of art by which positive and negative areas are defined or a sense of depth achieved in a work of art.

To use a very rudimentary baking analogy: the elements are like the basics: flour, sugar, etc. 

The principles are what you are trying to with the cake: what kind, decoration, 

You use the Elements to shape the Principles.

8 Principles of Art

1. Balance– A way of combining elements to add a feeling of equilibrium or stability to a work of art. Major types are

  • Radial Balance- Any type of balance based on a circle with its design extending. from center.

  • Symmetrical Balance- The same on both sides.

  • Asymmetrical Balance-different on each side but still creates balance, 1 large shape balanced by multiple small shapes

2. Contrast/Emphasis-A way of combining elements to stress the differences between those elements.

3. Rhythm– A principle of design that indicates movement, created by the careful placement of repeated elements in a work of art to cause a visual tempo or beat.

4. Pattern/Gradation– A way of combining elements by using a series of gradual changes in those elements. (large shapes to small shapes, dark hue to light hue, etc)

5. Variety– A principle of design concerned with diversity or contrast. Variety is achieved by using different shapes, sizes, and/or colors in a work of art.

6. Proportion– A principle of design that refers to the relationship of certain elements to the whole and to each other.

7. Unity/Harmony– A way of combining similar elements in an artwork to accent their similarities (achieved through the use of repetitions and subtle gradual changes)

8. Movement A principle of design used to create the look and feel of action and to guide the viewer’s eye throughout the work of art.

Assignments for the

2D Design Portfolio