Elements of art

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A work of art can be analysed by considering a variety of aspects of it individually. These aspects are often called the elements of art. A commonly used list of the main elements includes those below.


The form of a work is its shape, including its volume or perceived volume. A three-dimensional artwork has depth as well as width and height. Three-dimensional form is the basis of sculpture.[1] However, two-dimensional artwork can achieve the illusion of form with the use of perspective and/or shading or modelling techniques.[2][3] Formalism is the analysis of works by their form or shapes in art history or archeology.


Lines and curves are marks that span a distance between two points (or the path of a moving point). As an element of art, line is the use of various marks, outlines and implied lines in artwork and design. A line has a width, direction, and length.[1] A line's width is sometimes called its "thickness". Lines are sometimes called "strokes", especially when referring to lines in digital artwork.


Color is the element of art that is produced when light, striking an object, is reflected back to the eye.[1] There are three properties to color. The first is hue, which simply means the name we give to a color (red, yellow, blue, green, etc.). The second property is intensity, which refers to the vividness of the color. A color's intensity is sometimes referred to as its "colorfulness", its "saturation", its "purity" or its "strength".The third and final property of colour is its value, meaning how light or dark it is.[4] The terms shade and tint refer to value changes in colors. In painting, shades are created by adding black to a color, while tints are created by adding white to a color.[2]


Space is an area that an artist provides for a particular purpose.[1] Space includes the background, foreground and middle ground, and refers to the distances or area(s) around, between, and within things. There are two kinds of space: negative space and positive space.[5] Negative space is the area in between, around, through or within an object. Positive spaces are the areas that are occupied by an object and/or form.


Texture, another element of art, is used to describe either the way a work actually feels when touched, or the depiction of textures in works, as for example in a painter's rendering of fur.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Understanding Formal Analysis". Getty. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Elements and Principles of Design". IncredibleArt.org. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  3. ^ "What Are the Elements of Art?". About.com. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  4. ^ "What is Value in Art?". 
  5. ^ "Vocabulary: Elements of Art, Principles of Art" (PDF). Oberlin. Retrieved 9 May 2014.