Bringing Value to Shape and Shape to Value

Posted: September 24, 2012 in Fund. Visual Literacy

With space and lines defined now it is time to venture further into design basics with shape and value.


Shape can be thought of as a combination of what two design elements?

Once lines and space are identified and understood shape becomes the next element of learning. To create a shape you need lines and you need space. A shape can be outlined and be identifiable with just lines, but the space defines the image and sets it apart. Space is the beginning for adding volume.

Can shape alone give enough visual information to allow for the identification of an object?

Objects can be identified by the some of the simplest of outlines. So long as the outline of the image is recognizable an object can be perceived as being what it is suppose to be by the representation of the outline. Space and volume only add the details taken in when taking more time in visualizing the object.


What is value as it applies to design?

Value is what gives depth to shape. Giving volume to an object starts the process of creating a 3 Dimensional image, but it takes value to bring the object to life. In design you have to consider the light and dark areas of the piece. Learning to work with value is important and an easy way to start is with monochromatic images (the use of one color in an image). After mastering monochromatic, adding color will be easier and soon a design piece can have any number of colors.

Why is value important? Value is what makes and image stand out. Images with little to no value will get overlooked and analyzed quickly. On the other hand, the images that use value to create depth and feeling to itself will be the images that request more attention from the eyes of the viewer.

What is the preferred direction of light in an image?

As said, value is the the use of light and dark. To get a cohesive light and dark effect a designer has to take into account a light source. The most common directional light sources is from above because that is where we naturally get our light from and is our normal perspective of value on objects in real life. Though that is the most common direction for a light source, the most comfortable source of light to view is said to be from the upper-left of an image in the textbook. There is no reason really known for why the left and not the right, but any movement of the light to another direction starts to get emotional responses from the viewer. This is because you are changing what they view comfortable, what they are used to. Change causes an effect in people and light source direction is not exempt from this.

The direction of the light source needs to be taken into account during the design process and what the goal of the design is needs to be considered. Once a direction is decided on one very important thing to remember is to stay consistent with that one direction throughout the image.


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