The Building Blocks of Visual Design (part 2)


Volume applies to visuals that are three-dimensional with width, length,  and depth. Because most digital products are viewed on a 2D screen, we rarely use volume in visual design. However, some websites and apps use 3D models and graphics. (Surely, 3D images viewed on a 2D screen are still 2D images.)


Value simply describes light and dark.

A design with a high contrast of values makes a sense of clarity and a design with similar values makes a sense of subtlety. Value can also be used to simulate volume in 2D. For example, we can use lighter values where the light hits the object and use darker values for shadows.


Color is an element of light. Color theory is one of the design branches focused on the usage and mixing of different colors in design and art. In color theory, one of the most important distinctions exists between colors that mix additively and colors that mix subtractively.

In paint, colors mix subtractively since the pigments absorb light. The mixture of different pigments absorbs a wider range of light, resulting in a darker color.

In digital design, the product shows up on a screen and colors mix additively, because the screen emits light and colors are mixed together accordingly. The mixture of different colors on a screen emits a wider range of light, resulting in a lighter color.

In visual design, we use colors to convey emotions in, add interest and variety to our designs, separate distinct areas of a page, and make our work different from the competition.


Texture is the object’s surface quality.

Being a designer, you can work with two types of textures: tactile textures which you can feel, and implied textures which you can only see, but not feel. Since the screens cannot produce tactile textures, most visual designers will work with implied textures.