Lesson one


These are the building blocks used to create an art work.


These are visual symbols artists use to create visual art, or the guidelines followed during the construction and appreciation of an art work or the essential aspects in an art work.


  • They describe the characteristics of a given work of art
  • They help analyze the success or failure of a particular art work
  • They help us speak a common language as we communicate through art.
  • They help in the production of an art work.
  • They are the foundation tools on which all Art is built without which Art is non existent.

 1) Line

A line is a continuous mark made on a surface to join one or more points. Or a mark made by a moving tool when its point of contact is made to move.


  1. Horizontal lines
  2. Vertical lines
  3. Diagonal lines
  4. Circular lines
  5. Zigzag lines 

Lines vary in character; they may be continuous, broken, thick, bold, faint, long, short, parallel, straight and curved. 


  • Lines enclose shapes,
  • Define forms
  • suggest movement,
  • Create depth
  • Create different moods and emotions.
  • Show the effect of light and shade
  • Indicate the weight of a given object
  • Create texture
  • Reveals areas of emphasis in a design
  • Organize space by separating or dividing
  • Used to connect different objects and ideas.

2) Space

This is the empty place or surface within or around a given work of art.

Space can be negative or positive. Negative space is the area around and between the subjects of an images. Positive space are the masses of the object.

3) Shape

This is an enclosed area with well-defined boundaries or the outline area of a figure.

Types of shape

  • Organic shapes/Irregular/ free-form shapes

 These are shapes that are derived from organic objects such as plants, rocks, animals, clouds etc. these shapes are found to occur naturally in the environment and they are unpredictable and flowing in appearance.

  • Geometric shapes/ Regular shapes.

 These are shapes with regular dimensions which can be measured and drawn indifferent scales e.g. circles, squares, rectangles, triangles, semi-circles e.t.c.

4) Form

This is the roundness of a given object in three dimensional space, mass and volume. Form in two dimensional art creates a three dimension aspect of height, width and depth.

5) Structure

This is the general appearance of an object according to its inner mass or it’s the buildup of a given object structure is formed by a combination of different forms to get the entirety of a given art piece.

6) Colour

This is the appearance of an object due to the reflection of light. In order to see color, light rays fall onto the surface of an object which has a pigment, and this helps the eye to realize the color of specific objects.


  • Light
  • This is the coloring matter in objects. 


Colour from pigments has three main properties namely;

  • Hue
  • Value
  • Intensity
  1. Hue.

 This is the property of color that makes it differ from another i.e. it’s the shade of color e.g. red, blue, e.t.c. Hue is the name of colour in its pure form and it can be categorized differently on a color wheel.

Categories/ schemes of color on a colour wheel.

A colour wheel is a basic aid that has different arrangement of colour to help an artist choose colour schemes to suit a given painting. The different categories of colour include;

a. Primary colours

 These are colours that cannot be obtained by mixing other colours i.e. red, blue and yellow

b. Secondary colours.

These are colors produced by mixing two primary colors i.e.




Therefore, PURPLE, GREEN and ORANGE are secondary colors.

c. Tertiary colors.

These are colours produced when a primary colour is mixed with a secondary colour

d. Neutral colors

These are colours that change/ enhance the tone/ value of other colours, and these are Black and WHITE.

e. Complimentary colours.

These are colours that lie directly opposite each other on the colour wheel e.g. blue is opposite orange and therefore blue and orange are complementary colours

f. Cool colors.

 These are associated with things like water, vegetation, space, distance and the sky. Cool colors can be used to create feelings of coolness, sadness, calmness and despair e.g. blue, green, purple

g. Warm colours.

These are usually associated with sources of heat and light such as fire and sun. Warm colours are used in compositions to create feelings of warmth, anger, activity and life e.g. red, orange, yellow and adjacent colours on the wheel

2. Tone/ Value.

 It refers to the lightness and darkness of a colour

3. Intensity (chroma).

This is the purity and saturation of colour. This intensity can be altered by adding black or white

Uses of color

  • Describe form
  • Modal form and create illusion of depth
  • Suggest movement
  • Express ideas and feeling i.e create mood.
  • Arouse emotions

4. Texture

This is the roughness and smoothness of a surface. Or it’s the surface quality of an object.

Types of texture

  • Tactile texture: this is the type of texture experienced by touch
  • Visual texture: this is the type of texture only experienced by sight e.g a drawing of a stone, the texture can be interpreted as rough by our eyes but the paper remains smooth when you touch it.

Uses of texture

  • It can be used to define shape,
  • highlight form,
  • create the illusion of space and depth,
  • make a surface appear lively, interesting or dull,
  • Create visual harmony with other elements around.
  • Texture creates visual reality and identification of objects

    5. VALUE/TONE.

Tone is the lightness or darkness of an object due to the effect of light or the variation of light on an object. Tones are got by manipulating a given medium to show the dark and light parts of an object achieved by controlling the value.

Value is the degree of lightness or darkness of a surface. It can be created on a surface by two techniques

a. Shading

 This is the process of darkening a surface. By shading the value of a colour is lowered and this is achieved by adding black.

b. Tinting

This is the process of lightening a surface to increase the ability of the surface to absorb light. By tinting the value of a colour is raised and this is achieved by adding white.

           The movement or variation of a shade from the darkest point through the mid shades to the lightest point is known as Tonal variation or gradation.