Resources on Principles of Design

SAQA Seminar (Article)

Welcome to Unit 2 of SAQA Seminar: Visual Design! Now that you know more about the elements of design, find out how to put them together by using the principles of design - pattern, rhythm, proportion, contrast, movement, balance, unity and emphasis. Getting familiar with these key concepts will help with creating successful compositions.


Resources and other inspiring links

This article on the “7 Principles of Art and Design” from ThoughtCo. is well worth reading. Follow it up with more details about achieving balance in your artwork.

Brett Barker offers more insight into Demystifying Composition (Part 2) from the SAQA Journal archives (we shared Part 1 earlier). 

Here are 12 pro tips from a digital artist about creating strong compositions.

Painter Jane Davies demonstrates how she uses many layers to add pattern to her work in this video.

Elizabeth Barton blogs about “Elements and Principles: space: deep or shallow?” Looking at images of her own work, she explains perspective and use of space.

Did you know that design principles are important in developing effective websites? Learn more about symmetry and asymmetry.

Jill Jensen, managing curator of Art Meets Science, explores how artists use design principles in this SAQA Journal article from Summer 2010.

The website Thought Co has another great article about why movement is important in your compositions.

Artist Olafur Eliasson discusses creating art with space and light in this TED talk.

Ann Roth explores pattern and rhythm in her contemporary weavings. This interview with includes many inspiring insights into her process.

Inspiring collection of architectural photographs that include many interpretations of the principles of design.


Book Recommendations


Design Explorations for the Creative Quilter
by Katie Pasquini Masopust *

Bring out your inner artist-explore 10 approaches to designing art quilts. This book offers a wealth of examples along with design exercises.

The Quilted Garden
by Jane A. Sassaman *
Jane Sassaman discusses inspiration derived from nature, and she offers several exercises for design development and evaluation. She also presents, in two different chapters, the two "ways of working", or processes she uses to develop her quilts, based on inspiration from the natural world


Savor Each Stitch: Studio Quilting with Mindful Design
by Carolyn Friedlander

Author Carolyn Friedlander describes her design process and discusses the art elements/principles she uses to design her quilts. She offers projects which explore various steps of design. Beautiful photos to make this a compelling resource.

Fearless Design for Every Quilter
by Lorraine Torrence

Follow 8 real-life quilters on their artistic journey. This book also includes exercises for exploring design elements and principles, as well as suggestions for finding design inspiration.


Illustrated Elements of Art and Principles of Design

Geared towards students, this guide provides an overview of the design concepts.  Introductions to the elements and principles are enhanced with colorful illustrations, artwork, and photographs.

Visual Forces: An Introduction to Design (2nd Edition)
by Benjamin Martinez and Jacqueline Block 

Written by two teaching artists, this text/manual explores how general principles of design -- form, shape, color, and other visual elements -- are applied in all media and techniques -- e.g., painting, sculpture, graphic design, print and craft media.