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The Building Blocks of Visual Design

An understanding of the basics of graphic design is useful when designing computer interfaces.

Lines: In basic Graphic Design, horizontal lines are used to convey a mood of quiet calm. Diagonal lines are used to suggest movement. Lines can be used as borders to separate sections of the screen layout. Their thickness, colour and style can be varied to add emphasis.

Shapes: Shapes can be used to enclose items of information on a screen. Background colours can be used to define such shapes, baring in mind that use of strong background colours may reduce contrast and detract from the legibility of text. Tables and graphics in interfaces are fundamentally rectangular, but this limitation can be overcome by defining transparent backgrounds.

Using lines and shapes to organise screen elements

Using lines and shapes to organise screen elements

Texture: In everyday life, we experience different textures most strongly through our sense of touch. By varying the dark and light shades used, graphic elements can simulate textures to give a 3D effect.

Movement: Lines and shapes in asymmetrical or unbalanced orientations can suggest movement. This can give a more dynamic appearance to an interface and affect the visual hierarchy and emphasis.

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