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Week 4 Discussion – Discuss Four Major Principles of Design


  • LO 05.01 – Discuss the four major principles and elements of design to critique a raster-based layout.
  • The first image in the discussion has the most issues.


Being able to apply the principles of design is an essential part of working professionally as a designer. Clients and employers will not only expect their graphic designer to master the tools of design, they will also have to master the principles of design in order to make aesthetically pleasing images. Photoshop can help designers make powerful, focused, imagery that has a strong message. It is a tool to help get their clients’ messages across.



Elements of Design (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

The elements that make up a design can include line, shape, color, space, and texture (among others). How these elements are arranged in a composition is what makes a design effective or ineffective. The way these elements are arranged should conform to the principles of design. These principles are contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity.

Let’s take a look at what these terms mean:


Contrast means making certain parts of your design stand out. The most important type of contrast is value contrast—making sure your focal point (whether it is text or an image) is significantly lighter or darker than your background so it is easier to read. But contrast can also refer to contrast of size, contrast of color, contrast of shape—using difference to make certain things stand out. Contrast is important to design because it helps make a design readable.


Repetition means using the same visual elements to create a cohesive look. This might be using a cohesive color scheme, repeating a certain font, repeating a certain type of bullet point, or repeating a shape to create a pattern. Repetition is important to design because it helps make a design cohesive.


Columns and rows in a design ensure the text and visual elements line up neatly and utilize balance. A systematic approach to alignment will ensure your design appears neat and well thought out rather than just a random assortment of images and text. Alignment is important to design because it gives a design structure.


Placing objects or elements that are related somehow close together, helps to make them visually connected. Proximity is important to design because it makes a design easier to understand.


Now that you understand the elements and principles of design, you will critique a design that utilizes these elements and principles effectively and a design that utilizes these elements and principles ineffectively.

  • For your initial post: View these two designs (below) and evaluate them in terms of their use of contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity.
  • Discuss how the 4 principles of design are used either properly or improperly in design “A”
  • Discuss how the 4 principles of design are used either properly or improperly in design “B”
  • Which design is more successful in utilizing the principles of design with the placement of the elements?
  • What is your reasoning for choosing one design over the other?
  • Research resources of constructive criticism techniques to apply to your feedback

For your citation, you might use articles that show examples of the rules of graphic design or tutorials that cover technical aspects of design in your feedback to other students. You can also find articles from experts that suggest what makes a design effective.

Your initial and reply posts should work to develop a group understanding of this topic. Challenge each other. Build on each other. Always be respectful but discuss this and figure it out together.

Instructions (if needed) to upload and embed images to the discussion: (make sure you reference all images you use)


Per the Due Dates and Participation Requirements for this course, you must submit 1 main post of 150+ words, 1 citation, and reference, as well as 2 follow-up posts of 50+ words. Responses can be addressed to both your initial thread and other threads but must be your own words (no copy and paste), each reply unique (no repeating something you already said), and substantial in nature. Remember that part of the discussion grade is submitting on time (20%) and using proper grammar, spelling, etc. (20% per post).

Remember that part of the discussion grade is submitting on time and using proper grammar, spelling, etc. You’re training to be a professional—write like it.

Click here for info on the Institution Writing Guidelines (IWG) if you have questions.



The files below are PDFs showing A-level work by fellow students. The examples are provided to illustrate the quality of work needed to get an A on this task. Copying from the samples is considered cheating. Use the examples to inform your plan to create your own work. Look at the pieces for writing quality, use of citations, weaving outside sources and the author’s position together, ability to meet the goals of the task, and cohesion.

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