The Seven Elements of Design – Part II – Colour

ImageThe second of the Seven Elements of Design I want to address is colour. The science behind this one amazes me.

Did you know that colour doesn’t really exist? What the human eye perceives as colour is merely a reaction of light reflecting off the surface of an object. Our eyes translate the wavelengths and we see the colour(s) of light that is reflected. So, in a way, this element of design is not colour, but light.

John 8:12 says, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.'”

If what we see as colour is really light and Jesus is the light of the world, it stands to reason that Jesus is reflected in everything. Everything! This goes far beyond a simple element of graphic design. This is the basis for the world in which we live. God is the creator of all things. Like any artist, He wants the recognition for his work. A painter will sign his piece, an author will make sure that her name is on the cover of her book. God, well He makes sure He is actually, truly, literally reflected off of all of His work.

Imagine how famous I would be if I could do that.



The Seven Elements of Design – Part I – Line

I was recently made aware of a gap in my education regarding design. Perhaps I forgot these principles or maybe I never learned them in the first place, but there are seven basic elements of design. Seven different ways that made a composition more interesting, more conceptual, more appealing. These Seven Elements of Design related to the Four Principles of Design – of which I will address at a later time.


These are lines. Yes, lines. They make up the first (in no particular order) element of design. Last week I handed a paper to an instructor and his first question was, “Where are the lines?”. Open a newspaper or a magazine and count how many lines you see on one page. This is an important element. I will forever see my instructors well-manicured finger jabbing at a magazine, “Line! Line! Line!”.

One of the first references to lines in the Bible is of God speaking to Moses in Numbers 34. God is giving Moses instructions for when they enter Canaan, telling him where the borders are to be placed. At the end of verse 10, God says, “This shall be your land according to its borders all around.”

In design, lines divide and join, separate and bring together. God uses lines to mark out the Promised Land. These lines were so important because they Israelites were getting so close to the fulfilment of the promise God had made to them. The vision was becoming a reality and God’s chosen people were beginning to see beyond the desert they had been roaming.

Whether your lines are dividing text, surrounding an image or creating the image, never underestimate their importance. Line is the beginning of the fulfilled promise.

The Golden Section

ImageFor anyone who has learned anything of design, this diagram should be familiar. It is known as Fibonacci’s Spiral which is based on a complex formula that I cannot even begin to make sense of. The centre of this spiral creates the “golden section” of a composition – the place where the focal point is most effective. Whether a design uses this theory on purpose or not, you may find that many famous works of art pull your attention to a certain point on the page. Lay this spiral over the piece and you’ve found your golden section.

Fibonacci may have been the one to figure the calculations for this magic line, but he was certainly not the inventor of it. Look around you and Fibonacci’s Spiral is everywhere: a seashell, a pine cone, a galaxy, a sunflower, a hurricane.

How ignorant are we to believe that humans came up with such concepts. God was way ahead of us, putting things in place so that we could discover them and realise just how much thought went into the world around us. God was the originator of the “Golden Section”. We are merely imitators.ImageImageImageImageImage

The Rule of Thirds

ImageThe rule of thirds is a term that should be familiar to artists of all sorts: painters, photographers, designers and others. This rule suggests that any visual composition should be divided into thirds both horizontally and vertically. Anything in the composition that requires more attention should be placed along the dividing lines, or more importantly, at the intersection of two lines. Whether a person is aware of this “rule” or not, most will agree that a composition applying it is more visually interesting.

This rule applies elsewhere. The idea appears throughout the scriptures. In fact, it is one of the first things mentioned in the Bible. In Genesis, when it speaks of God creating the Earth, it is not just God that is being referenced, but the Godhead. The Godhead consists of, you guessed it, three parts: the Father, the Spirit and the Son – who is Jesus Christ. In Genesis 1:26, God says, “Let us make man in Our image.”  So if God is of three parts and we, man, are created in His image, we must also be of three parts. And indeed we are. Humans consist of three parts: spirit, soul and body.

Let’s say that God, as three parts, makes up the three vertical sections when using the rule of thirds and man makes up the horizontal thirds. We can only accomplish so much on our own going in our own direction, but with the help of God we are able to go far beyond where our own strength can carry us.

Here is the key, the most interesting places, where people look, are those places are where the lines meet up. Where we meet God is where people want to be. It is where we are naturally drawn whether we recognize it or not.

The rule of thirds was first mentioned in 1797 by John Thomas Smith in his book Remarks on Rural Scenery. He thought he was on to something and indeed he was, but the idea was not an original one. God had it all planned out from the beginning. What amazes me is how long it took us to catch on.

All Things



This is a chance meeting captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. It shows a rare view of a pair of overlapping galaxies, called NGC 3314.  The two galaxies look as if they are colliding, but they are actually separated by tens of millions of light-years, or about ten times the distance between our Milky Way and the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. The chance alignment of the two galaxies, as seen from Earth, gives a unique look at the silhouetted spiral arms in the closer face-on spiral, NGC 3314A.

If all great design points to a great designer, it is quite ignorant to live in this universe and believe it all happened by coincidence. 

The image above shows not one, but two galaxies. There once was a time in our brief history that we honestly believed that we were at the centre of our universe. It was at that point in human history when the majority still believed that it was God’s creation. Now that we know that we are certainly not at the centre of our universe let alone possible countless others, how is it that we can believe this wonder surrounding us happened by accident?

Colossians 1:16-17 says, “For it was in Him that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [by His service, intervention] and in and for Him.  And He Himself existed before all things, and in Him all things consist (cohere, are held together).”

This of course, sparks the great debate between creation and evolution. But from a purely design perspective, I cannot look at the world around me and not be in awe of a master designer working to create every tiny, living organism as well as every massive, growing universe.