Friday, June 28, 2013

Direction: Visual Manipulation in Design and Art

In a world where lines and shapes portray emotions as well as messages, direction holds great importance.

Visual manipulation is used to direct the audience through a design or an artwork. Making sure what mood and feel you want to set with the use of direction greatly enhances the ability of your design or artwork to capturete the eyes and the minds of your audience.

Visual manipulation with effective use of direction creates a connection from a design or artwork to the viewers.


Is about using horizontal, vertical, curved, sloped or straight lines to effectively manipulate how eyes move around the design or artwork. Direction can be used to suggest movement by the speed at which it is changed. Create balance to provide stability, imbalance to create tension.

Direction also creates emotional impact with the use of rapid changes or diagonal lines. It may help in creating anxiety or movement in action. Horizontal lines suggests calmness, stability and tranquillity while vertical lines give a feeling of balance, formality and alertness.

Also, it is greatly established that the default eye movement throughout a design or artwork (in an LTR – Left to Right – layout) is from the top left towards the bottom right

However; this can’t be far from the truth, by arranging the composition elements in a certain way. A designer or an artist can control and force the movement of the viewer’s eyes in and around the layout of the design or artwork.

For an instance, the eye will travel along an actual path such as solid or dotted line, or it will move along more subtle paths such as from large elements to little elements, from dark elements to lighter elements, from color to non-color, from unusual shapes to usual shapes, etc. Graduation of size, and repeated shapes and sizes of related elements subtly leads the eye as well.

Things to consider for effective visual manipulation

Control direction with appropriate lines and shapes. This should be a priority. Without complete control of direction, viewers may be mislead and lose interest in your creation.
Lead the eye into the design or the artwork. Never arrange the elements of your design or artwork pointing outside. Always lead the viewers into your creation to capture their interest. This is one of the top mistakes both designers and artist fall into.

The element of direction has a powerful influence on the mood of a design, but hesitating about the dominant direction in a design can have a noticeable effect on the atmosphere of the work.

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