From ancient pictographs to modern logos, shapes are at the root of design. They are used to establish layouts, create patterns, and build countless elements on the page. With graphics software such as Illustrator, creating and manipulating shapes is easier than ever, giving designers the freedom to create them at will.
Lines are used to divide space, direct the eye, and create forms. At the most basic level, straight lines are found in layouts to separate content, such as in magazine, newspaper, and website designs. This can of course go much further, with curved, dotted, and zigzag lines used as the defining elements on a page and as the basis for illustrations and graphics. Often, lines will be implied, meaning other elements of design will follow the path of line, such as type on a curve.
Color is an interesting element of graphic design because it can be applied to any other element, changing it dramatically. It can be used to make an image stand out, to show linked text on a website, and to evoke emotion. Graphic designers should combine their experience with color with an understanding of color theory.
Type, of course, is all around us. In graphic design, the goal is to not to just place some text on a page, but rather to understand and use it effectively for communication. Choice of fonts (typefaces), size, alignment, color, and spacing all come into play. Type can be taken further by using it to create shapes and images.
Art, Illustration & Photography
A powerful image can make or break a design. Photographs, illustrations and artwork are used to tell stories, support ideas, and grab the audience's attention, so the selection is important. Graphic designers can create this work on their own, commission an artist or photographer, or purchase it at all price levels on many websites.
Texture can refer to the actual surface of a design or to the visual appearance of a design. In the first case, the audience can actually feel the texture, making it unique from the other elements of design. Selection of paper and materials in package design can affect actual texture. In the second case, texture is implied through the style of design. Rich, layered graphics can create visual texture that mirrors actual texture.
Jim Krause. "Design Basics Index." HOW Design Books, 2004.
Poppy Evans, Mark A. Thomas. "Exploring the Elements of Design" Second Edition. Thomson Delmar Learning, 2008.