The principles of design are often debated. Art instructor, Dennas Davis reveals a list of the most commonly agreed upon principles of design along with a handy graphic.

The 6 Principles of Design by Dennas Davis

Surprisingly, the principles of design are not universally agreed upon. But, that’s not so surprising when you realize we’re talking about artists!

However, these design principles are generally boiled down into about 6 items, and usually arranged in a list. During my research, I looked at as many of these lists as I could find. I discovered a lot of variations on the principles of design.

The following six design concepts are the ones most agree upon. I’ve also added several words to help describe the concepts.


  1. Position – Proportion and Placement
  2. Contrast – Size, Texture, Color, Value can all be high or low contrast
  3. Repetition – Simple repetition (rhythmic), Progressive repetition, and patterns
  4. Balance – If it looks like a sculpture of it would fall over, then it’s probably not balanced.
  5. Emphasis – The most important spot should be obvious. The eye should follow a clear path of importance hierarchy. This is the focal point.
  6. Harmony – Things should seem to go well together.

It occurred to me that half of these principles are the METHODS I use to get to the other half which are my GOALS. So I divided them into METHODS, and GOALS. Then I made this nice little graphic.

6 Principles of Design

Guest artist/author: Dennas Davis is an art instructor and art blogger