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Jessica Anne Alba
Phillip Reginald Alpajora
Von Jonas Alvarez
Veronica Marie Angeles
Rafael Joy Banday

College of Fine Arts

University of the Philippines
Diliman, Quezon City

February 2018

A. Definition and History
B. Significance of the Principles of Design in the Arts
C. Principles
1.1 Harmony
1.1.1 Repetition
1.1.2 Rhythm
1.1.3 Pattern
1.2 Variety
1.2.1 Contrast
1.2.2 Gradation
2.1 Symmetrical (Formal) Balance
2.1.1 Pure Balance
2.1.2 Approximate Balance
 Radial Balance
 Axial Balance
 Mosaic Balance
 Translational (Crystallographic) Balance

2.2 Asymmetrical (Informal/Occult) Balance

3.1 Proportion
3.2 Scale
4.1 Domination
4.2 Subordination


5.1 Direction
5.2 Movement
5.2.1 Implied Movement
5.2.2 Kinetic Movement
III. Milton Glaser
1. Biography
2. Philosophy
3. Contributions in the Arts
IV. References
It is often said that an artist’s task is to bring order out of chaos. Whether the imagery is figurative
or nonobjective, the artist’s intent is to develop an integrated and unified visual whole out of diverse
The principles of organization are not laws, however, with only one possible interpretation or
application. Rather, they are flexible guides to organizing the elements. Their use is highly intuitive and
subjective for each work. The principles do not function separately within the overall structure of a
composition. Instead, they affect and influence each other (for example an area’s degree of dominance
affects the whole composition’s sense of balance). Principles can be combined or omitted as necessary as
long as the artist understands what effect that choice may have on development of the other principles.
Incorporating any particular one may not be enough to guarantee a successful work, because principles
are not ends in themselves.
The organizing process, which can be variously termed composition or design, is usually a mix of
intuition and intellect. By applying the various principles of organization, the visual artist controls and
integrates the art elements–building relationships that are harmonious and yet varied enough to create
excitement. He or she also imparts a certain feeling of balance or visual equilibrium, appropriate
relationships of size and scale, areas with varying degrees of dominance or emphasis, and pictorial
movement. This is done as efficiently as possible and establishes a spatial relationship between objects.
The work may undergo much change as it progresses, but the final arrangement (image) should
effectively communicate the artist’s feeling.
To some extent, the structure of visual elements leads the viewer’s experience much like a musical
score guides musicians. Just as a score indicates tempo (the speed or pace of the music), placemen of
notes, rests, and the degree of sound to be produced, so the visual composition controls eye movements in
both speed and direction, provides pauses, and, in a sense, manipulates the volume ( by using loud or soft
colors, clashing lines or softly related shapes).
The individual elements of art are so integral to this organizational process that they really cannot
be separated from it. The principles should be reviewed repeatedly to fully understand how each element
can be used and developed to achieve harmony, variety, balance, proportion, dominance, movement, and
A. Definition and History
Design, as we define it is by any means of ordering our surroundings, and re-shaping natural
materials to suit our needs and purposes. The concept of design first arises at the interface between
humankind, their raw environment, and their expression of intentions, hopes and desires.
Human evolution depended largely on developing successful ways of relating to our
environment. It is our brain that evolved this special intelligence that enabled us to plan and apply
techniques for dealing with specific challenges posed by the natural world. In the ancient times, we
learned to make tools and other equipment to hunt, cook, and protect ourselves and to make possible the
increasingly sophisticated ways of living. All of our creations in our place and our time is a reflection of
that special constructive intelligence we call design.
No designer ever starts from scratch; he or she has inherited a basic language of design
which humanity has been developing for thousands of years. What matters is what each individual
designer is able to say in that language. In a truly creative piece of design, the fundamental elements of
the language are varied, combined, and/or adapted to produce an original statement.
Each personal or traditional style can use only some of the possibilities. Many may, in fact,
be incompatible with each other. But novelty in design results from actively using the existing language
of design, not trying to invent a completely new one. Very rarely a genuinely new pattern may be found.
But, designers like the users of any other language, need to work with basic forms and
relationships of live design intelligence akin to our own, capable of revealing to us ideas that may have
been forgotten. We may enjoy a wonderful feeling of being part of a great community of humans who
speak to each other in forms across time and space. But we belong inevitably to our own era, since we are
heirs to discoveries after which design could never be the same again. We are now able to see ourselves
as growing shoots on a living tree of design and to learn from and incorporate into our consciousness a
great variety of good design images from the past. We have also learned a certain humility in the face of
old aesthetic achievements from which our pursuit of sheer technological efficiency may have alienated
B. Significance of the Principles of Design in the Arts
Artists, fashion designers, automobile stylists, product designers, interior decorators,
architects, commercial artists, craftsperson and visual communicators develop ideas, prepare designs and
translate them into final products using materials, they seek to achieve a sense of harmony and
completeness in their creative work. They develop a feeling of balance and unity in their work by
establishing varying degrees of contrast, pattern, emphasis, movement and rhythm within their designs.
You may think of this as design organization or composition; the arrangement of lines, shapes, forms,
colors, values and textures in a pleasing and attractive way.