Elements of Art

Elements of Art


The elements of art are the building blocks used by artists to create a work of art.

Line is a mark with greater length than width. Lines can be horizontal, vertical,
or diagonal; straight or curved; thick or thin.

Shape is a closed line. Shapes can be geometric, like squares and circles; or
organic, like free-form or natural shapes. Shapes are flat and can express length
and width.

Forms are three-dimensional shapes expressing length, width, and depth. Balls,
cylinders, boxes, and pyramids are forms.

Space is the area between and around objects. The space around objects is often
called negative space; negative space has shape. Space can also refer to the
feeling of depth. Real space is three-dimensional; in visual art, when we create
the feeling or illusion of depth, we call it space.

Color is light reflected off of objects. Color has three main characteristics: hue
(the name of the color, such as red, green, blue, etc.), value (how light or dark it
is), and intensity (how bright or dull it is).
• White is pure light; black is the absence of light.
• Primary colors are the only true colors (red, blue, and yellow). All other
colors are mixes of primary colors.
• Secondary colors are two primary colors mixed together (green, orange,
• Intermediate colors, sometimes called tertiary colors, are made by mixing
a primary and secondary color together. Some examples of intermediate
colors are yellow green, blue green, and blue violet.
• Complementary colors are located directly across from each other on the
color wheel (an arrangement of colors along a circular diagram to show
how they are related to one another). Complementary pairs contrast
because they share no common colors. For example, red and green are
complements, because green is made of blue and yellow. When complementary
colors are mixed together, they neutralize each other to make

Texture is the surface quality that can be seen and felt. Textures can be rough or
smooth, soft or hard. Textures do not always feel the way they look; for example,
a drawing of a porcupine may look prickly, but if you touch the drawing, the
paper is still smooth.

Value is the the lightness or darkness of tones or colors. White is the
lightest value; black is the darkest. The value halfway
between these extremes is called middle gray.



What is Art? – PPT File

The Elements of Art and Vocabulary

Visual Literacy

Elements of Art Illustration – PDF File

Line Art – PPT file

Principles of Art – PPT file

Perspective – PPT file



National Gallery of Art