Concept, Form, Color - 3 Fundamental Elements

Any effective graphic illustration has the 3 fundamental parts; concepts, form and color.  With these 3 elements working together in harmony, and each contributing its individual essence a graphic piece will be quite effective.

The concept, or thought put into the layout is most often the most critical element. There are plenty of extraordinary ideas out there, but there is also a mess of horrible ones too.  If  color and form are applied to a poorly considered concept the design will not be effective.  A great example of a bad concept is Harley Davidson Perfume.  Quoting from Neil Zawacki’s bog discussing this  poor concept he writes,  “most people *didn’t* want to smell like a biker who’s been chased by the police for three days. Nor did the bikers have any strong urge to pretty themselves up for Rhonda the chain-smoking cocktail waitress.” (Zawacki, 2009)

Form or, the composition, is the foundation of the design. Being able to create harmony, balance or even tensions in a way that is visually appealing takes understanding of how the different elements relate to one another. Form is critical as it has the potential to communicate extremely well quite poorly.

Finally color is the key ingredient to add variety or change the mood of a piece.  Color not only has a psychological and emotional suggestion to its viewer, but it also claims branding, and used correctly will support the entire graphic illustration. A perfect example that comes to mind is how Gatorade used a splash of color in this ad. The color contrast on the dark image identifying the orange Gatorade is very powerful. Not to mention a strong concept like “sweating Gatorade”  as well as a  strong form or composition that communicates, athletes are refreshed with the beverage.  See Ad Here:


Zawacki, Neil. “BAD CONCEPTS – Harley Davidson Perfume.”
The blog of the Bad. April 27, 2009

AIO Lecture

Graphic Design School. David Dabner, 3rd edition

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