The Building Blocks of Visual Design (part 1)

Visual design means creating and making the general firm aesthetics of a product. It aims to improve the users’ experience by considering the effects of illustrations, photography, typography, space, layouts, and color on the usability of products and on their aesthetic appeal.

Visual designers work with fundamental elements of visual design and arrange them according to principles of design in order to create the aesthetic style of a website or app. These fundamental elements and principles form the building blocks of visual design. Understanding firmly about the building blocks is crucial in creating a visual design of any product.

Here are the elements of visual design: line, shape, negative/white space, volume, value, color, and texture. The understanding of how to place these elements together to build pages and app screens optimally plays a crucial part in your daily work as a designer.


Lines, strokes connecting two points, are the most basic elements of visual design. We use lines to create shapes, and by repeating them, we can form patterns that create textures.

Although lines are simple, they can possess a large variety of properties that help us to convey a range of expressions. For example, lines can be thick or thin, straight or curved, be geometric (such as lines drawn by a ruler or compass) or organic (such as lines drawn by hand).


Shapes, usually formed by lines or by using a different color, value or texture, are self-contained areas. A shape has two dimensions: length and width.

We used to identify objects by their basic shapes and mostly focus on the details such as lines, values, colors, and textures. Therefore, shapes are crucial elements that designers use for quick and effective communication.

Negative/White Space

Negative/white space is the empty area around a shape. The relation between the shape and the space is called figure/ground (the shape is the figure and the area around the shape is the ground). While designing positive shapes, we are also designing negative spaces. Negative space is as important as the positive shape itself because it helps to bring balance to a composition.


Volume applies to visuals that are three-dimensional with length, width, and depth. Volume is rarely used in visual design because most digital products are viewed on a 2D screen. However, some apps and websites use 3D models and graphics.