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Classic components
Think of the elements of design as the basic building blocks. These elements will be part of everything you design, from consumer products and furniture to magazine pages and billboards, whether you know that or not. (For now, we will restrict our discussion to the layouts that are common to print and web publishing.) It should go without saying, but very little does anymore, that understanding these basic elements will enable you to create more powerful pages for your packaging, ad, magazine or website.
At the most basic level, there are five elements in any design:
1. Lines and linework

These terms do not refer to pen-and-ink or pencil sketches, but to borders, frames and rules. Horizontal or vertical, thick or thin, regular or irregular, they help define and delimit spaces around various elements on your pages. Good linework increases both the readability and "directionality" (see #5, below) of the design as a whole.
2. Shape

Any enclosed area, form or contour in your design is a shape. Shapes in most layouts are square or rectangular, but nothing says they must be, and circles are useful, too. You can also use images to create other, regular or irregular shapes.
3. Texture

Texture imparts a "surface" feeling, and is tactile in printed matter, so choosing the paper stock-matte, weave, coated-is a design decision, too. Textures on layouts meant for broadcast or the Internet are visual only, but still key.
4. Color

Color is probably the element that most designers are at least acutely aware of, if not schooled in. However, color is not required in many designs, and some art educators suggest creating designs without any color first. The artist, in this view, should then add only as much color as needed to enhance or complete the design. Another school of thought holds that color should be one of the first elements determined. Experience and experimentation will help every artist develop a good color sense and strategy.
5. Direction

Effectively designed layouts, in magazines or on your computer screen, usually have a sense of motion. A good design will lead the reader's eyes through the design deliberately, using color changes, shapes, linework and copy placement direct viewers' attention to what the designer wants them to see.

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