5 Visual Principles For Photographers and Artists

Art is clearly subjective. One critic may think a piece is the best they’ve ever seen, while another may think it’s the worst. But aside from the subjective elements, there are also clear principles that underlie compelling visual artworks. Whether you’re shooting photographs, painting, drawing, or exploring other types of visual arts, you should understand the visual principles that draw in viewers and make your piece exciting. Take a look at these five visual principles every artist should know.

1. Patterns

People are naturally drawn to patterns. Patterns help people to make sense of their world, and this applies to the visual arts as well as to life in general.

Patterns create a sense of familiarity. They can harmonize distinct elements in a photograph or painting. They can also highlight elements that disrupt or vary from the main pattern of the artwork.

2. Balance

Whether you’re using a repeating pattern or a number of different images, visual artworks need balance. Balance refers to the visual weight of the objects, colors, textures, and other elements in your artwork. For instance, imagine you shoot a photo using the rule of thirds so that the beach, the ocean, and the sky each take up a third of the photo. These visual elements are equally weighted. They create balance in the photo.

A well-balanced piece can make viewers feel calm, but you can also play with balance in a way that creates a visual disruption or purposeful dissonance. For example, you fill a canvas with light colors and then place a very dark-colored object in the corner of the photo. The dark-colored object is unbalanced, and this draws the viewer’s eye to it.

3. Color

Color significantly influences how people perceive visual artworks. Colors can set the emotional tone of a photograph or painting. Different colors can highlight elements of a piece through the use of contrast, or similar tones and colors can create a smooth transition between multiple elements. The absence of color or use of black-and-white or grayscale can also create a strong visual effects.

4.Light and shadows

The way you use shadows and lights also helps to create the visual composition of an artwork. Shadows can create intrigue or drama. They can also help to emphasize the light and draw attention to well-lit areas of the piece. Light and shadows create balance, and they show the viewer where to move their eyes when looking at a piece.

5. Negative space

When you create a visual piece of art, you don’t have to fill in every part of the artwork. Instead, you may leave some spaces blank. This is called negative space, and it helps to draw attention to the most important aspects of the piece. Negative space can include blurred background when you want to highlight something in the foreground.

If you have multiple subjects in a piece, the negative space is the area around them. Ideally, negative space shouldn’t be something that you create after capturing the image. Instead, it should be something you consider when you first start creating the space.

Reading about and playing with different visual elements will help you improve as a photographer, painter, or sketch artist. But it can also help with sculpture, filmmaking, and any other type of visual art. The more you learn about the visual principles of art, the more you will pick up on these elements in other people’s artwork. Then, you can optimize these elements in your own artistic endeavors.