SEMS Italia

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ABC of Design

The deep unseen connection that connects the whole world

Each letter of the alphabet represent an element or principle of design. 

A — Aesthetics 

The study of the mind and emotions in relation to the sense of beauty, in order to establish meaning and validity of critical judgements concerning works of art.

B — Balance 

A state of holding an object in equilibrium or tension. An equal distribution of weight or amounts.

C — Color 

The quality of an object or substance with respect to light reflected by that object; determined by measuring the hue, saturation, and brightness of reflected light.

D — Direction 

A position on a line extending from a specific point towards another point; the point or region itself. Also, a line of thought, action, tendency or inclination.

E — Emphasis 

A quality created by contrasting size, positioning, color, style or shape in order to lay upon an object or subject a special importance or stress.

F — Form

A 3-dimensional object having volume and thickness, allowing the object to viewed from many angles.

G — Grid 

A structure made up of a series of intersecting straight or curved vertical, horizontal and angular lines that is used to organize elements and content.

H — Hierarchy 

Arranging elements from most important to least important through size and emphasis so that it leads the viewer through each element in order of its significance to understanding the content of a design and its goals.

I — Image

A physical likeness or representation of a visible object; an optically formed reproduction that resembles a visual element and the understood meaning applied to it.

J — Justification 

In typesetting, justification is the typographic alignment setting of text or images within a column in order to align the left and right margins vertically.

K — Kerning 

The process of adding or subtracting space between a specific pair of characters or letters. In a larger sense, kerning turns into tracking — the process of loosening or tightening a block of text.

L — Line 

A fundamental mark or stroke on a surface of which the length is longer than the width; connecting two separate points.

M — Margin

The edge or space immediately adjacent to or surrounding an object or element. Margins are used to create space around content to increase visibility, structure and legibility. Also referred to has a border.

N — Narrative 

The art, technique and process of sharing a story or an account of events and experiences that may be of either a true or fictitious nature.

O — Opacity 

The measure of visual opaqueness of an object, which determines how much you can see through the element. The more opaque an object, the less you can see through it—which is called transparency.

P — Proportion 

The use of relative size of elements in contrast to each other to attract attention to a focal point.

Q — Query 

The process of retrieving information through the presentation of questions; an inquiry is usually to call attention to an item in order to explore its validity or accuracy.

R — Rhythm

The repetition or alteration of elements with defined intervals between them to create a sense of movement and pattern. Rhythm varies between regular, flowing and progressive in style and frequency.

S — Shape 

An area defined by a direct or implied boundary that creates contrast from the space next to or around it.

T — Texture 

The surface quality of an object, either actual (tactile) or visual (simulated). The sensation of touching a tactile texture ranges from rough to smooth, or an implication of these qualities through only visual sensation.

U — Unity 

Arrangement of elements in a contextual, agreeable way, so that no individual part is viewed are more important than the whole design.

V — Value by 

The degree of variation between light and dark. Depending on context, value describes all tonal ranges from high to low contrast.

W — White (Negative) Space

The space around and between the subject of an image or group of elements, which offers the ability to balance between positive and negative space in composition.

X — X-Height 

In typography, the height of the lowercase letter “x” which represents the most important area of a letterform for 90% of lowercase characters.

Y — YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary)

You may have different experiences or results. What worked for one designer, may vary for another: so plan accordingly.

Z — Zoom by 

The act of bringing forward or backwards a subject or scene into closeup through a lens.