Idea flows

Elements of Design

Elements of design are the components/tools designers employ in all forms of art and design. It may be designing of garments, fabrics, websites, architecture, interior, visual merchandising, paintings, sculpture…… Understanding of elements of design and using them in different ways enables the designer to produce different kinds of art/objects and visual effects.


Elements can be used within the garment (detailing) or incorporated in the construction of garment. Seams, tucks, darts, pleats, hemlines, panels are some of the elements incorporated while constructing (sewing) a garment. Piping, embroidery, trims, buttons, laces, braids or other ornamentation are some of decorative elements applied within a garment.



Dot is a round spot. Smallest dot is the basic element of a line, the point. A point is smallest and simplest unit suggesting its presence and location. Dots are arranged in different ways and sizes to achieve variation in appearance.

- Groupism is arrangement of points at one place of joined together but still in one place.

- Expansion is scattering of points with in a space. 

Bigger the dot, larger the area appears, smaller the dot, smaller the area appears.  Using bigger dots on an object or garment worn by a lean figure makes it appear fuller. Use of smaller dots on an object or garment worn by a plump figure makes it appear leaner.

Dots or points joined and proceeding towards one side of an object/garment indicate direction. Beads, Sequins or buttons arranged in a row vertically or horizontally on in any other shapes convey different messages.




Linear distance between 2points is a line. Line is a spontaneous mode of expression. Line is a chain of dots joined together to indicate direction. Line is the simplest and most important element of design. Frequently, line is incorporated within other elements of design.

The visual dimensions provided by line are – DIRECTION, LENGTH AND WIDTH.

Movement is created as the eye moves over or along the line. 

Spaces are created or divided by lines.

Different lines affect us differently, emotionally and psychologically. 

- Zigzag lines represent lightening or violence.

- Thick lines represent strength or  alertness.

- Straight lines represent firmness or rigidity

- Thin lines represent weakness or delicate

- Uneven lines represent uncertainty


In clothing OPTICAL ILLUSIONS can be created by different lines that help in concealing figure problems or highlighting the figure.



- Many times creates or signifies masculinity.

- Opposes natural curves and signifies permanence, neatness, flatness and strength.

- Powerful, stable, dignified and slimming effect.

- Maybe used to indicate/create confrontation.

In clothing straight lines can be created in/by/at seams,  yokes, fabric patterns(prints, checks, stripes), garment edges, darts, panels, panels, zippers, plackets, tucks, zippers, rows of buttons, beads, sequins, braids, laces, tapes……..



- Many times creates or signifies femininity.

- Adds volume, Emphasizes body curves.

- Adds fluidity, grace, movement, richness, elegance.

- Counters thinness, counter sharp angles. Soft curves signify youthfulness.

- Maybe used to indicate weakness or instability.

In clothing curved lines can be created in/at/by seams, pockets, collars, scalloped edges, seams, frills, gathers, peplum, bell sleeves, princess line, neck shapes.



- Angular effect, counters roundness.

- Sharp, moving, speedy, eye catching

- Converging zigzag emphasize direction

- Maybe used to indicate danger / edginess.

In clothing, zigzag lines can be created in/by/at seams, sleeves, rickrack lace, collars, pleats, collar lapels, necklines, godets, yokes, fabric patterns.

Wide ‘V’ shaped lines widen shapes/objects/clothing. Deep ‘V’ shaped lines have a slandering effect.



- Rhythmic, attract attention.

- Psychologically uncertain, interrupted.

- In vertical or horizontal direction breaking illusion is created.

- Broken lines shorten length of straight lines.

In clothing, dotted lines can be created in/by/at fabric pattern, button holes, belt loops, and running stitch embroidery.



- Conflicting and disturbing

- Attracts attention

- Created a ‘T’ line in clothing when used inverted

In clothing, perpendicular lines can be created in/by/at seams, yokes, darts, using trims, fabric pattern, plackets+waist or hipline, waist line+panelling.



- Used with any shape of line.

- Adds weight, forceful, expansion, roughness, assertiveness, masculinity.

In clothing, thick lines can be created in/by/at facing, borders, bands, belts, cuffs, tapes, pleats, embroidery.




- Used with any shape of line

- Indicates / Adds delicate or fragility.

- Weakness or Preciseness.

In clothing, thin lines can be created in/by/at collars, seams, garment edges, piping, binding, gathers, garment edges, plackets, embroidery.




- Shortening or widening effect.

- Psychologically, indicates flatness, balance, rest, peace.

In clothing, horizontal lines can be created in/by/at yokes, waistlines, hiplines, hemlines, necklines, sleeves, bands, fabric patterns, trims, embroidery.



- Lengthens or slandering

- Bold, sophistication, strong, force, gravitational pull

- Elegant, mobility, flatness, balance, rest.

In clothing, thick lines can be created in/by/at side seams, princess lines, pleats, gathers, fabric patterns, trims, embroidery.




- Dramatic or interesting.

- Slimming if towards vertical lines, widening if towards horizontal lines.

- May be used to indicate instability or infinity.

- Maybe used to indicate/create confusion or restlessness

In clothing, thick lines can be created in/by/at pockets, yokes, panels, seams, necklines, lapels, collars, flared trousers/skirts, A-line, Raglan, hemlines, fabric pattern, trims, and embroidery.



- Visual effect of roundness, softening of angles.

- Feminine, gentle, sensuous, graceful, fluidity, flow.

In clothing, thick lines can be created in/by/at trims, frills, laces, ruching, fabric patterns.




- Continuous, eye catching

- Natural, feminine

In clothing, thick lines can be created in/by/at circular cut frills, peplum, petal sleeves, trims, embroidery, fabric pattern.




SHAPE (& Form)

Shape is 2D/ 2-dimensional. Form is 2/3D, 3dimensional. Both are important in fashion as fabric is considered as 2D but when it is turned into a garment, the garment covers a 3D form(human body).

Shape is a space enclosed by lines.  Shapes can be categorized as Natural, Geometrical and Abstract. Different shapes awaken different responses in our senses.

Natural shapes: shapes as found in nature, in the natural environment, living and non-living things in the sky, earth and water excluding manmade things. These shapes usually have curves, indicating fluidity and movement.

Geometrical shapes: Shapes that are regular and can be measured and created by simple formulas and measurements. These shapes may be found in natural or man-made. Simplest of geometrical shapes are circles, squares, rectangles, ovals.  These shapes usually indicate stability, power, confidence.

Abstract shapes: Shapes created accidentally or man-made. These shapes usually grab attention and challenge the mainstream standards. Unbelievably believable…… so to speak.


Common shapes and the responses they evoke in us:

Straight lines and strong angles of geometric shapes evoke stability, power and confidence (trust).

Curved shapes indicate femininity and evoke confidence (reliability).

Diagonal lines in shapes evoke instability but are very apparent or eye catching.

Unequal geometric shapes create or sustain interest.

Shape size and boldness – Large simple areas evoke calmness, dullness or lack of excitement. Small complex shapes evoke interest, confusion or tension. Small shapes with bold and solid colours create an illusion of being bigger than they actually are. Big shapes with muted colours and tiny patterns create an illusion of being delicate. 


Silhouette is outer shape (outline) of a garment. Shape also refers to decorative or structural features within the structure (silhouette) of a garment. Fashion trends affect the silhouette first and then the detailing within that silhouette. If we consider the Silhouette as the main structure of the garment, then all parts of a garment yokes, collars, sleeves, front n back of tops, legs of pants, embroidery designs, patterns on fabric, pockets, waistband.

Basic silhouette of a garment may be changed by

- Raising or lowering the waistline, hipline, hemline or type of sleeve.

- By widening or narrowing hemlines, pockets, sleeves, collars, lapels, plackets, cuffs, waistbands, yokes.




The first thing we notice when we see is colour. Colour has the biggest discernible impact on the aesthetics of any creation. Many times we use colour to differentiate between spaces, shapes or objects. Colours may be understood through their 3 characteristics; hue, value and intensity.

Hue is the dimension of colour which gives it a name and distinguishes one colour from the other.

Value is lightness or darkness of colour. Lighter the colour, lower the value and Darker the colour, higher the value.

Intensity or Chroma is brightness or dullness of colour.

Source of Light - How we perceive colours is affected by the source of light and time of day in our surroundings. Some colours appear different in indoor or outdoor natural day light, indoor or out-door evening light and indoor or outdoor artificial light. Again type of artificial lighting also affects colour perception.

Light colours make areas appear larger and dark colours make areas appear smaller. Asymmetric use of strong contrasts makes one side of the garment heavier that the other. Darker tones in lesser quantity give balance. Direct or draw attention to an area of the body or garment by placing light colours in that area.

High intensity colours are more attractive than low intensity colours. Large areas of brightness or very bright colours might turn appearance into garish or loud. On the other hand large areas of dull or very dark colours might turn appearance into boring or depressing. Combination and variation in quantity of use of bright and dull colours can contribute to appearances that are pleasing, pleasant, happy. In every culture or religion, each colour is associated with particular symbolism. Many times same colour symbolizes conflicting ideas in different cultures.




Texture is the characteristic structure of an object or surface quality of material. Texture describes the nature of surface, which can be understood by feel or touch or visually. Hard, soft, grainy, slippery, smooth, rough, silky are a few textures we all identify by touch or visually.

When the texture we feel or see is transferred on a 2dimensional surface (paper, fabric) it is called a texture in design.

Different types of textures are seen on fabric or trims surfaces. After colour, texture is the second most important deciding factor in choosing clothes. Every material we use has a texture. Fabric texture is a very important element of fashion as we can feel the texture when we wear the garment, not just when we touch the fabric.


Tactile and Visual are 2 types of textures. Tactile textures can be felt by touch and is found in all materials. Different fabric construction methods like knitting, weaving, and other chemical processes on fabric gives fabric surfaces different tactile textures. Visual textures are seen. The fabric may seem to be rough when we look at it (no touching). Visual textures are created by surface ornamentation, printing, dyeing, smocking etc…


Textures create optical illusions. The materials(type of fibre) used to make fabric, the finishes(crimping, embossing, brushing) given to fabric, the ornamentation (print, dyed designs, embroidery) of fabric, the structure(woven, knitted, leather, formed) of fabric all contribute to creating a variety of textures.  Fabric textures are used to create illusions to the figure of the wearer. Bold prints, checks, thick pile fabric make the figure seem bigger. Coarse textures such as jute, furs give an enlarging effect. Light weight fabrics like satin, linen, terrene tend to be clingy showing off body contours well. Stiff fabrics like organza stand away from body and create an illusion of being plump.


Achieving different textures in fashion illustration requires a lot of practice. A combination of rendering techniques and different colour mediums and different tools are required to create different textures. Even though a few basics can be taught, each individual has to develop their own methods of making textures. 



Airy Bristly Coarse Crystalline

Crisp Crumpled Curly Dense

Feathery Flexible Dusty Fuzzy

Glossy Glassy Granular Hairy

Hazy Rocky Rubbery Shiny

Silky Smooth Spongy Waxy