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Design Theory:
Classic Graphic Design Theory Principles of Design: Emphasis

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Copyright © 1999 by Bonnie Skaalid

Classic Graphic Design Theory
Principles of Design: Emphasis

One method used to attract attention in the design of a page or work of art is the use of a focal point. A focal point draws your attention to the most important element on the page. There are several techniques used to emphasize the most important object on a page.

Ways to Create a Focal Point

Emphasis by Contrast 

In realistic art the focal point is usually quite easy to spot. Larger figures, usually found in the foreground, provide a focal point. Even in non-realistic art, it is usually easy to spot the focal point. If most of the figures are horizontal, a vertical element will stand out as a focal point.

 

 

If the rest of the elements are irregular, a geometric shape will stand out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If most of the elements are dark, a splash of light color will catch the eye. 

Pic:Emphasis-contrast

 

 

Pic:Emphasis-regular vs irregular

 

Pic:Color emphasis


Pic:Emphasis-Isolation

Emphasis by Isolation 

If most of the elements in a work of art are grouped closely together, an object by itself stands out as a focal point.


 Emphasis by Placement 

An object placed in the center will often be perceived as a focal point. If all eyes in the painting look at one object, or if an object is placed at the center of the lines of perspective, that object will be perceived as the focus of the work.

Pic: Surrender of Lord Cornwallis

This painting by John Trumbull, entitled The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, shows how a focal point can be emphasized both by placement and by eye direction.

Elements & Principles of Design: [Line] [Shape] [Texture] [Value & Color] [Space] [Movement] [Balance] [Emphasis] [Unity]

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