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The Principles of Design are achieved through the use of the Elements of Design. Each principle applies to each element and to the composition as a whole. The principles are unity, harmony, balance, rhythm, contrast, dominance, and gradation.

Unity … Echoes of all elements relating.
All things are connected and belong to the whole. The distinguishable units and elements seem to belong to each other so that each contributes to the functioning of the whole. The work is complete when no element can be changed without detracting from the whole.

Harmony … Within each element and as a whole.
Harmony can affect the emotional response to the composition.

Balance … With the "weights" of the segments of each element.
An equilibrium of similar, opposing, or contrasting elements that together create a unified whole. Forms of balance: Asymmetrical Balance and Symmetrical Balance.

Rhythm … Variety and Repetition.
Variety within the design of all the elements and principles, along with, the regular repetition of particular elements or stresses, also, the suggestion of motion by recurrent form.

Contrast … Alternation.
Provide contrast within each element i.e. light, dark; soft, hard; warm, cool, etc.

Dominance … Within each element. (Center of Interest and Focal Point)
Dominance provides emphasis. The center of interest is the area within the work to which the eye is drawn. The Focal Point is the point within the center of interest that catches the eye. It is this area and point that the artist emphasizes through the use of the elements.

Gradation … Modeling, (the 3-D effect), Transitions.
Used in modeling or producing a three dimensional effect and in transitional effects. Gradation of detail from foreground to background. (Ariel Perspective)

A COMPOSITION is an arrangement of all the elements, which achieves a unified whole. But alas, it is merely a tool to create form and content. Content relates to human emotion and the intellect and is the end result of the reasons for painting. Design is a means to that end.
See: Types of Compositions and A Simple Approach to Good Design.

ATTRIBUTES are defined as the qualities that the art or design conveys to the observer.
Emotional … Active, Passive
Esthetic … Realistic, Impressionistic, Abstract, Decorative
Spatial … Depth, Flat

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