Design Fundamentals Notes on Visual Elements and Principles of Composition

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1/23/2015
  • Publisher: Peachpit Press
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Miss Visual Elements and Principles of Composition class, again? That’s OK. You can borrow our notes.

Lucky for you, we didn’t miss a single class the entire semester so you’ll find all of the important points explained in the notes, along with the class assignments.

How does a dot turn into a line to create a shape that makes up a composition? We covered that and more. You’ll see in the notes that we went over all of the basic elements of composition—dot, line, shape, texture, & pattern, color, and space—as well as the principles for composing the elements on flat surfaces (paper, canvas, screens) and in three dimensions. 

We had some pop quizzes in this class so we put those in the notes too so you can test yourself, even if it won’t count toward your actual grade.

If anything doesn’t make sense in the notes, just go to the class website at design-fundamentals.com. The instructor put extra projects and exercises on the site, a bunch of cool links, recommended reading, that sort of thing. Also, check out  our Pinterest boards at Pinterest.com/DSNFundamentals. You could spend hours looking through it all.

Good luck!


Author Biography

Rose Gonnella is the Executive Director of the Robert Busch School of Design at Kean University in Union County and Ocean County, New Jersey, and Wenzhou-Kean University, China (2015). Gonnella has taught graphic design for over 25 years including courses in design theory and materials and techniques. She currently serves on the executive board of the Art Directors Club of New Jersey (ADCNJ); is the Director of the Kean University/ADCNJ "Thinking Creatively" design conference; and she also directs and guides Kean Cre8tive, the RB/School of Design in-house graphic design studio. 

Christopher J. Navetta’s diverse career boasts an eclectic group of clients and employers that includes Wendy’s, Kay-Bee Toys, Natural Wonders, Jersey City Public Schools, Thomson Delmar Learning (now Cengage), PFLAG, Prentice Hall, Six Flags, the Mall of America, and Nickelodeon. He is the co-author and designer of Comp It Up: A Studio Skills Foundation, and a contributing writer, designer, researcher, and photographer for Design To Touch: Engraving History, Process, Concepts, and Creativity. He currently teaches design at Kean University, and has worked on developing curricula for undergraduate courses and a summer design program for high school students.

Max Friedman is an illustrator, designer, and filmmaker currently attending Kean University’s Robert Busch School of Design.

Table of Contents


Section I  Basic Elements
1. Line 
2. Shape & Form
3. Color
4. Texture & Pattern

Section II  Visual Manipulations
5. Scale 
6. Proportion
7. Spacial illusion
8. Motion 

Section III  Principles of Composition
9.   Focal point and Hierarchy
10. Unity
11. Balance
12  Rhythm

Section IV  Concepts & Creativity

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