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Basic Design In Arts

Updated on July 12, 2016
A Basic Design Sample
A Basic Design Sample

Behavioral Objective:

At the end of this lesson the student should be able to:

  1. define basic design.
  2. state the seven elements of design.
  3. define the time ‘line.’
  4. explain colors in details.
  5. illustrate with color pigment the primary, secondary, tertiary and the neutral colors.

Basic design is the art of using all the elements of arts to form a pattern through the application of certain principles. It can also be said to be an art of arranging images, symbols, numbers, texts, etc in a manner which appeals to the visual senses.

Before one should ever endeavor to create any design, one must first fully understand the meaning and application of the building blocks called Elements of Design’ and the law of design known as the ‘Principles of Design.’

Elements of design are the symbolic and creative tools used in forming a design. The elements of design are simply the basic cells used in creating any design – good or bad.

The elements of design are seven in number. They are:

  1. Line
  2. Color
  3. Shape
  4. Space
  5. Texture
  6. Value
  7. Form


Line is an element of art used to create shapes, contours and outlines of images formed in a drawing. It is a continuous mark made on a surface with pointed writing tool.

Following are the characteristics of lines:

Lines can be thick, thin, vertical, tapering, uneven, long, short, broken, continuous, horizontal, vertical, diagonal, sharp, curving, blurry, perpendicular, oblique, parallel, radial, zigzag, fuzzy, choppy, jagged, graceful and smooth.

There are many types of lines but in this lesson I will introduce to you only seven. They are:

  1. Drawn lines
  2. Contour lines
  3. Outlines
  4. Gesture lines
  5. Natural lines
  6. Calligraphic lines
  7. Illusory lines

Drawn Lines - These are the type of lines that forms how an object or impression of a place appears.

Contour Lines – These are the that describe the shape of an object and the details of the interior parts.

Outlines – These are lines which are created to form the edge of an object or its silhouette.

Gesture Lines – These are lines which are energetic and catches the movement and gestures of an active or moving figure or model.

Natural Lines – These are the types of lines naturally formed by objects which belong to nature.

Calligraphic Lines (Beautiful Lines) – These are lines which are created elegantly by handwriting or any line belonging to a beautiful flow of movement.

Illusory Lines – These are lines which are not actually drawn but created by a group of objects seen from a distance.


Color as an element of design is the separation of light into seven unique rays called colors. Color comes form light; if it weren’t for light we would have no color. Summarily colors are light separated into seven distinct rays. Within this light rays are all the rays of colors in the spectrum or rainbow. Shining a light into a prism will create a rainbow of colors because it separates the color of the spectrum. When the light rays hits an object our eyes responds to the light that is bounced back and we see that color. For example a red ball reflects all the red light rays. When we look at a red colored object our eyes see the rays in percentage, and because our teacher told us it was red then the brain immediately registers it as red henceforth. So since then all objects radiating that percentage is seen as red. As artist we use pigments in the form of powder or liquid paints to create color.

Categories of Colors

There are four categories of colors. They are primary colors, secondary colors, tertiary colors and neutral colors.

Primary Colors

These are the three basic colors which cannot be gotten by mixing with other colors but bought in a store. Those colors are formed by chemical composition and union. They are formed by chemical reactions. They are RED, YELLOW and BLUE. You may check my hub ‘how to paint in oil color’ to see the color wheel.

Primary colors
Primary colors

Secondary Colors

Secondary colors are colors acquired by mixing any two primary colors together. They are also three in numbers and cannot exceed that number. They are GREEN, ORANGE AND PURPLE.

Secondary Colours
Secondary Colours

Tertiary Colors

Tertiary colors are colors which are gotten from one primary color and another secondary color. They are numerous in number. But we have the first grade. Some of them are called by the following names: GOLD, BRICK, VIOLET, INDIGO, TURQUOSE and LEMON.

Tertiary Colours
Tertiary Colours

Neutral Colors

Neutral colors are colors which are primarily used to lighten or tone down a color. They are BLACK and WHITE. In painting, it is not permissive for an artist to use neutral colors on any object on the format. Lets say he wants to paint a black ink bottle, he must check for the color of the next object to the ink bottle and mix a little of it with black. If it it blue, it should turn to something like a very dark blue. It should appear as some kind of black with blue appearing faintly in the background. In short it must not be absolutely ‘BLACK.’ The same process and rule goes for the white color or an highlighted object. If you are interested in learning painting you can check on the hub link here.

Neutral Colours
Neutral Colours

Color Harmonies

Color harmonies is the practice of using certain combinations of colors that brings about a particular appearance or aesthetics (feelings archieved from observing an art piece). We have different types of colors. The types are analogous, triadic, monochromatic, warm and cool colors.

Analogous colors are colors that are near each other in the color wheel. Examples are yellow, gold, brick and red.

Triadic harmonic colors are colors that are spaced equally on the colour wheel. For example Red, Yellow and Blue.

Monochromatic colors are same colors but belonging to different tonal values and intensities.

Warm colors are colors on the color wheel which give one the feeling of warmth or color of fire. RED, ORANGE and YELLOW are examples of such colors.

Cool colors are colors that give the feeling of coolness or water. Examples are: violet, blue, turquoise, green, etc.

Evaluation Questions

  1. What is basic design.?
  2. Outline the seven elements of design.
  3. Define the time ‘line’ and state the characteristics and different types available.
  4. In full details define color and state the diiferent categories and types.
  5. illustrate with color pigment the primary, secondary, tertiary and the neutral colors.


This is not the end of this topic ‘Basic design.’ Hang on for some time and study this lesson given to you here now. Very soon I shall come up with the second part of the lesson in my next hub. So keep hubbing in hubpages. Merry Christmas in advance.



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    • lizzy893 profile image

      lizzy893 7 years ago from USA

      Thanks Alot!!!!! This was very helpful.

    • micadeolu profile image

      Michael Adewale Olubode 7 years ago from Celestial Church of Christ, +2347067550237.


      I hope this tutorial will help all those people aspiring to become a graphic artist. It a simple introductory lesson offered to explain the simple rudiments of designing. It also the first part of a two-hub tutorial on this topic Basic Design. Hope you have a nice time reading and practicing the lesson.