Mini Course in Design Principles
course is designed as a complement to the line-study problems
and it is taught during the second semester. Simple exercises
based on a variety of design principles using cut paper or
brush and plaka are done outside of class. To keep focus on
process, cut paper and a restricted format are specified.
Black and white plaka are used for sketching with a brush
in a very loose, free manner. This encourages student exploration
while examining numerous options before finalizing an image.
need to expand design experiences, acquire design vocabulary,
and at the same time, to identify and understand theoretical
design principles in a broader sense than found in the line
and shape exercises.
on how much time we have, or how slowly or quickly students
progress with line-studies, we sometimes do compositions.
This is a substitution when we did not have time to do research
and design for an animal, bird, reptile, insect, etc. One
year we did still-lifes using fruits and vegetables. Other
years we did compositions based on a profession or an activity.
On two occasions, one section did a composition based on Alaska
while the other section did a composition based on Arizona.
of the composition problems is based on time parameters and
an estimate of student capabilities. It was obvious that students
understood very little about composition, and without criteria,
they experienced great difficulty in organizing elements into
the line-study sequence has always been extremely effective,
it has always concerned me that there were so many aspects
of design composition that were dealt with indirectly, and
compositional tools and criteria needed to be more strongly
students enter the basic design program, they are predominantly
content-oriented with emphasis on representational imagery.
The principal objective for basic design is to make students
perceptually aware and better able to see visual qualities
as well as content. They should learn to view any image
including representational, as an abstraction. It is important
that they understand visual criteria and how theoretical principles
relate to practical design. Knowing design principles does
not in itself make a good designer it is how they are applied
that determines quality.
Sequence of Exercises
Dynamic and Static Composition
Space through Placement
Space through Scale and Value
Two Shapes as One, as Two or in Tension
to Achieve Visual Balance
Integrity of Shape with Tension
Ground with Shape
of Figure and Ground to Create Multiple Planes
Activation of Ground with Minimum of Figure
of Tension Lines Illustrating Space and Activating the Picture
of Size and Surface
of a Square into Intervals of Line and Shape
Intervals to Define Planes
flat plane receding into space
curvilinear plane showing form
and Establishing Priorities
Project: Composition Illustrating Application of Principles