The Basic Elements of Art

Introducing The Basic Art Elements

In this lesson, you will be introduced to the basic elements of art and how they work in conjunction with the principles of good design.

The basic art elements are the “building blocks” used to create any visual art piece. These elements are color, form, line, shape, space, texture, and value. Without them, it would be impossible for an artist to create art. Whether they realize it or not, every artist uses at least two or more of these elements in their art-making. For example, in sculpture, an artist uses both space and form, and a painter will utilize line and shape when creating a painting.

Defining The Basic Elements of Art

    • Color — A pigment used in artwork and their various values and intensities, such as the primary colors – red, yellow, and blue.
    • Form — The mass of the shapes created by forming two or more shapes or as three-dimensional shapes when showing height, width, and depth.
    • Line — A mark (actual or implied) that spans the distance between two points used to define shape in two-dimensional work. The implied line is the path that the viewer’s eye takes as it moves along a path from form, color, or shape within a work of art. Click for more information about lines in art.
    • Shape — Any area defined by edges within the piece bound by line, value, or color. It can be geometric (for example, square, circle, hexagon, etc.) or organic (such as the shape of a puddle, blob, splatter, etc.).
    • Space — Refers to the empty or occupied areas around, between, or within components of an art piece. It is either negative (empty space) or positive (occupied space).
    • Texture — The way a surface feels or is perceived to feel. The actual or implied structure and minute molding of a surface (rough, smooth, etc.) can either be seen or felt with the sense of touch.
    • Value  Shading used to emphasize form. The degree of lightness or darkness of any given color within a piece of art. Adding white to lighten the color is called “tint,” while the addition of black is called “shade.”

An artist will skillfully use these basic elements of art, mixing them with the principles of design to compose a sensational piece of art. Not all art elements have to be used; however, there will always have to be at least two present.


Why are the elements of art so important?

Your Next Art Lesson

If you enjoyed this lesson, be sure to check out another one in this series.

The Basic Elements of Art — You are here

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 1    |    Part 2

Basic Art Element — Line

Basic Art Element — Space

Basic Art Element — Texture

Basic Art Element — Value

Want More Art Lessons?

When you are finished with the Basic Art Elements lessons, why not move on to the Good Design Principles? To get started click on  The Principles of Good Design: An Introduction

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