Assignment 1: The Formal Elements and the Principles of Design

1. Look through the permanent collection at the Art Institute of Chicago’s or the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website. Go to either: and click on “Collection” at the top, followed by “Works of Art”, or

2. Select artworks from the collection that illustrate 10 of the formal elements and 10 of the principles of design terms listed below. Do not use the same image for more than one term.

3. Copy and paste your images into a 20-slide presentation. Each slide should include the image, the artist (if given) or country/culture of origin, title, date and medium (materials: e.g. oil on canvas, engraving, wood carving), the term your piece exemplifies, and a short sentence explaining how the image effectively demonstrates that term. (For example, “The photograph uses complementary hues because the two main colors, blue and orange, are opposite each other on the color wheel” or “This sculpture represents asymmetry because the two sides are not equal but maintain balance through their opposition.” If you do not have PowerPoint, you may create a document using Microsoft Word.

Formal Elements (choose any 10):

contour line

implied line

lines that outline and shape

lines that create texture




contour hatching


actual mass

implied mass

organic shapes

positive and negative shape (image must have both)

figure-ground reversal

cool colors

warm colors

analogous color scheme

complementary color scheme


actual texture other than impasto

visual texture


linear one-point perspective (explain where the horizon line, minimum of two orthogonals, and vanishing point are)

linear two-point perspective (explain where the vanishing point, minimum of four orthogonals, and two vanishing points are)

atmospheric perspective


implied time/implied motion

Principles of Design (choose any 10):

symmetrical balance

radial balance

asymmetrical balance

actual weight

visual weight

absolute symmetry

bilateral symmetry

emphasis and focal point

afocal composition




unity and variety

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