Years ago I taught a Visual Story Telling workshop at a youth performing arts camp after reading Bruce Block’s “The Visual Story” which is an industry standard art direction book for film and animation producers which talks about the principles of contrast and affinity, space, line and shape, tone, color, movement, and rhythm from a motion media producer’s point of view.

I so loved the book that I wanted to share it, but it hit me after teaching the camp, that I should have started at an even more core level that applies to all visual artists; the elements and principles of art. I wanted to share them here, then build on them in future posts.

An element is defined as: a part or aspect of something abstract, especially one that is essential or characteristic

principle is defined as: a law or fact of nature that explains how something works or why something happens

Art is defined as: something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings

I’ve seen a few different versions of the lists but most art educators teach a version of the following list. I’ve categorized each list from simple to increasing complexity (in my own opinion) and I’ll describe each element and principle in future posts.


Line, Shape, Form, Color, Value, Texture, Space


Balance, Contrast, Pattern, Rhythm, Variety, Unity, Emphasis

Stay tuned as we look at each of these in the coming weeks!

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