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  1. Before we start off on teaching about using Photoshop you need to learn something about design. These principles will guide you when technology fails you. Learning Photoshop without knowing these is like taking the wheel of a Ferrari without knowing how to drive. Art and design is about communication. These principles of design are universal across all forms of communication. Art, music, speech, you will find elements of these throughout all of them. We're going to use three very different pieces of art to illustrate how these work. It's also going to require you to do some googling. The pictures are by Norman Rockwell, Rembrandt van Rijn (looking very cheeky) and Homer Winslow. Elements of Art Line Line is the divsion between spaces. How areas are divided can greatly effect how someone feels. The line can be angry or calm, Rembrandt's line has a lot of action. It's not very static and that's good because he's catching (himself) being very alive. Shape The general shape of an image. If you squint, you should see a strong outline between the dark and light shapes of the work. If the shape of an image is strong, you'll be able to make sense of it even when it is far away or small. Color Has to do with the overwhelming hue of an image. The Rockwell is almost completely brown except for the father. Winslow's painting is evenly divided between blues and browns. Value The overall light and dark of an image. It's what gives Shape from above. Some paintings have very harshly black and white, others are more of a gray, with little difference between the light and dark part of the image. Texture This has to do with the tactile feel of the image. Patrick Nagel's paintings have a very smooth, crisp texture to them. The Rockwell painting uses a number of textures, from the smooth suitcase to the silky fur of the Collie to the rough feel of the car. Space Space refers to the area in which art is organized. Does it feel as though it has depth? The Rockwell image takes place within a small, intimate area but the Homer Winslow is very open. Another artist who makes very good use of space is Thomas Moran. Principles of art Repetition Repeating design elements, exact or varied, which establishes a visual beat. It's a way of reinforcing the Center of Interest. It can be repeating shapes, textures or colors or whatever. It doesn't have to be exact which brings us to Rhythm Rhythm is using that repetition but bring in variation. For example, in the Homer Winslow painting there are three painters but they are all different. The red in the Kid's tie (in the Rockwell) is repeated in the cloth, the lantern, in his shoes and in the banner on his suitcase. Thematically the use of a repeat color (or other element) can give separate elements a connection that tells a story. Proportion Proportion is the size relationship of parts to a whole and to one another. How much of your design is used for an element? If you have a ton of area devoted to something trivial, it's going to make for a weaker design, but open space with a purpose can be powerful. Balance Balance is the impression of equilibrium in a pictorial or sculptural composition. Balance is often referred to as symmetrical, asymmetrical, or radial. Pathways Pathways determine how and where your eyes go. You want to keep directing people back to the center of the piece but you also want to show them the whole thing. In the Rockwell painting, he's set a path for your eyes to follow. It keeps the viewer from trying to see everything at once and gives them reason to keep looking at it. In the Homer Winslow painting the shape and color of the clouds guide the viewer from one side of the painting to the other, providing a visual "highway" for the eyes to travel. Center of interest The place in an artwork where your eye first lands and where it goes back to. It's usually the area of strongest contrast and detail. Note: I'm going to fill these as time goes on. Next is some general Photoshop tips and then we're going to have fun with this fellow below. If anyone else wants to contribute go ahead, in fact I'm hoping that more people join in.