Visual Communication Principles in Design

While doing some research on design basics, I stumbled over this great site that lists a great collection of visual principles. It was created by Francisco Chinchilla as part of his research in “Theories, Methods and Principles that Assist and Support Form Generation on Product Design”. Its a great resource for designers looking for inspiration.

Designs consist of three major components : subject matter, content, and form.
The subject matter is the general category of information or topic that is to be communicated,
the content is the specific message with an intended meaning and function, and
the form is the visual and physical structure of the communication itself.
By manipulating these three components designers are able to vary their emphasis in order to change the communicated message.
Designers generate forms with an intent to communicate. The level or complexity of the communication also varies according to the selected format (two or three dimensions) and the controlled arrangement of the visual elements ( point, line ,plane, value, texture, color, and so on ).
The principles of organization provide structural guidelines of the ordering and treatment of visual elements and components so a predefined audience recognizes and understands the message idea or intent.

Here is a quick summary of the headings:
Spatial Organizations
a) Central Organizations
b) Linear Organizations
c) Radial Organizations
d) Clustered Organizations
e) Grid/Lattice Organizations

Most compositions have a structure that governs the position and arrengement of components and forms to bring about visual order and harmony. Designs that consist of a number of similar compositional components or forms are called patterns


The term symmetry comes from the Greek roots syn, meaning with or together, and metron meaning measure. Symmetry deals with the relationship of parts within a group, or, in direct translation, “to measure together”.

Proportion: Fibonacci series, Golden Mean ratios etc.

Symmetry can be used to organized pattern in two- and three-dimensional space. Symmetry operations and transformations may be used in art , architecture, and interior, product, and visual communication design.

For a deeper in depth look at the principles do check it out: The Visual Principles.

  • blauereiter

    July 9, 2007 at 12:13 am Reply

    Its interesting many of the components involved are strikingly similar to principles in photography…though composition and colour takes precedence in the latter I guess.

  • drew kora

    July 9, 2007 at 8:36 pm Reply

    Cool. In college I became obsessed with the Finonacci sequence and the golden ratio/spiral. I did a lot of my design work in college based on that, as well as a lot of my fine art is sorta of a nod towards the awesomeness of math. I’m convinced that math really is the highest form/expression of art, but our imperfect minds just can’t combine the two together. Oh well.
    Still, as a graphic designer, I use all of these principles on a daily basis in page layout and design.

  • Design Translator

    July 10, 2007 at 9:44 am Reply

    Hi blauereiter,
    Thanks for your comments and stopping by, I think you are right, visual principles has applications in my creative fields, I suppose at the end of the day the principles of beautiful is the same no matter what.
    Hey Drew,
    I have also a fascination with the golden mean, but you are right I do have trouble re-consoling the two. At the end of the day, my design process gets stunted as my lines become a mathematical calculations. I then found it more a restriction than help. I believe your design foundation has to be based around golden mean or the Fibonacci series to use it efficiently.

  • drew kora

    July 11, 2007 at 2:24 am Reply

    hey DT…what’s the status on the unp3 player?

  • Design Translator

    July 11, 2007 at 9:38 am Reply

    Pretty slowly, sad to say. I’ve been busy with work. I’ll get back to it very soon!

  • Preston Racette

    December 24, 2010 at 6:15 pm Reply

    This is a very good post! Keep them comming!

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