Elements of Art


The elements of art are the visual structures that make up all visual art. The elements of art are:

(Resources below)


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, violet).

• 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 brown.


Forms are three-dimensional shapes expressing length, width, and depth.

Balls, cylinders, boxes, and pyramids and many more are forms.


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.


Space is the area between and around objects. The space around objects is often called negative space; negative space has shape. (2-D Space exp above)

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. (3-D shape example below)


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 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.