Textiles and Dress Designing - Elements of Design | 12th Textiles and Dress Designing : Chapter 6 : Designing of Clothing

Chapter: 12th Textiles and Dress Designing : Chapter 6 : Designing of Clothing

Elements of Design

The elements are the fundamentals of a design.

Elements of Design

The elements are the fundamentals of a design. These form the basic structure of a design conveying wide range of messages. It is very important for a designer to understand design elements as it finds its application in various fields like interior decoration, fashion designing, architecture, vegetable carving and visual arts. The basic elements of design are line, shape, form, colour and texture.


1. Line

Line is defined as an indication that gives a distance between two points. It is one of the most basic elements in art and design. Line is a mark made by the media such as brush, pencil, stick, pen, charcoal and paint. Lines are found everywhere as these are used in forming words, numbers and symbols. Line exists in nature as a structural feature. For example, lines on zebra, branch of a tree, mountain peaks, weaves and thunder (Figure 6.8).

It also defines mass and volume. It may be continuous or discontinuous.


Types of Lines


The lines may be classified based on the curves introduced or continuity. (Figure6.9 and Table 6.1)

a) Based on Curves

A. Straight Lines

These lines are very rigid, structural and formal in nature. They depict masculinity in designs. Straight lines are forceful leading the eye to the focal point. Example: Landscape designs (coconut trees). These are more suitable for male garments.

B. Curved Lines

These are more pleasing to the eyes. These are soft and depict femininity in designs. Curved lines are informal, and relaxed in nature. These are more suitable for female garments.

C. Zigzag Lines

A zigzag line is an angular shape characterized by sharp turns in alternating directions. These lines have short sharp turns and angles. It is said to be a tracing a path between two parallel lines.

All these types of lines may be continuous or discontinuous.

b) Based on Continuity

Lines are divided into two based on its continuity as continuous and discontinuous lines (Figure 6.10).

1. Continuous Lines

When the lines are drawn continuously these are called continuous lines.

2. Discontinuous Lines

These lines are broken and drawn without continuity.

c) Based on Direction

The lines may be either in the silhouette or in the decoration of a garment. The lines are applied on the garments as given below (Figure 6.11).

Horizontal Lines

The horizontal lines suggest a feeling of restful, relaxing and almost peaceful response. These lines move width wise on an object. These lines have a tendency of creating illusions as if the garment is shorter and larger.

Vertical Lines

These lines run erect from up to down on a garment. These lines give an illusion as if the garment is taller and narrower. These create a sense of stability.

Diagonal Lines

These lines are neither horizontal nor vertical but run in a diagonal manner with an angle. These lines suggest a feeling of movement or direction. These lines give an illusion of more depth and space. On garments diagonal lines should be combined with vertical or horizontal lines for better effect. But if they are used alone for the entire garment, it gives a disturbing effect.

Parallel Lines

These lines in the design run along each other with equal distance in between them.

Perpendicular Lines

These lines in the design run at 90 degrees to each other. One line is in vertical and the other line is in horizontal manner.

Oblique Lines

These lines in the design run in a slanting manner.

Radial Lines

These lines in the design run in a circular manner.

Jagged lines

Jagged lines are not in order and these give a feeling of anger and disorder.

d) Based on the Measure

They are thick, thin, short, long, tapering and uneven. The lines are drawn with various depths as required to complete a figure. Few examples for the measure variations are given below on a garment (Figure 6.12).

a. Thick – This line in the design is fat and bold.

b.  Thin – This line is thin forming the design.

c.  Short – This line in the design is short.

d.  Long – This line is very long in the design.

e. Tapering – This type of line taper towards the end. The initial portion is broader and it narrows towards the end.

f. Uneven – This  line    is       uneven throughout the design. It is quite disturbing.

e) Based on the Character- sharp, blurry, fuzzy, choppy, graceful and smooth. (Figure 6.13).

a. Sharp – The lines are pointed.

b. Blurry – The lines are blurred and unclear.

c. Fuzzy – The lines are hairy and blurry.

d. Graceful – The lines are elegant and stylish.


2. Shape and Form


A specific configuration of the line or plane in 2-dimension is defined as shape, that separates a form from the background space. Shapes of clothing determine the outer shape of a person, as shape describes the outer dimensions of an object. The silhouette creates an impression about the person. The shape in a garment is either structural or decorative in nature. The shapes of garment may be modified in different ways. The shapes are introduced in garment through features such as bodice, skirt, sleeve, collar and yoke. When lines are joined to enclose space, they result in an outline joined to enclose a contour or shape. The garment shapes which could be applied for enhancing the comfort and beauty are expressed under.

Geometric Shapes

The 3 distinct types of geometric shpes are rectilinear – square or rectangle, angular triangle or pyramid and curvilinear – circle, sphere cone and cylinder. Geometric shapes are structured and often symmetrical. Rectangle, trapezoids and parallelograms are modified squares. An oval shape is an elongated circle and pentagons, octagons and hexagons are created with a combination of rectangles and triangles. (Figure 6.14).


Opposite sides of this shape are equal. Styles with these lines are slenderizing and suitable for the well proportioned, heavier women. It is influenced by three factors namely shape, size and position. The examples for a rectangular shape are garments with long, straight, hanging in loose, graceful folds.


Triangular shape is three sided. It may be formed also in an inverted position in the garments. It contributes unity and balance to the garments as it is stable. Examples are garments with wide shoulders, narrow skirt, dolman or raglan sleeves are good fashion design styles for large bust.


A square has all sides equal. It gives visual clarity due to its regularity. Examples are garments with straight or boat shaped neckline, boxy jackets and capes. Generally this style is very good for the very thin figured women, however, with proportions well planned and good design fabric can camouflage various figure irregularities.


The round shapes are suitable for formal wear or afternoon frocks. This design in fashion garments is the most attractive on the very young and the very thin figure. Examples for this shape are wide, crinoline lined skirts, petal shapes and puffed sleeves.


Hourglass shape is natural and gives smooth fit over hips and full skirt at bottom. It also gives a very good appearance for the tall, thin figure. Examples: wide shoulders and leg of mutton sleeves.


This shape is good for well proportioned, ideal figure. It is suitable especially for afternoon and evening wears.

Examples: draped and softly molded, very feminine and decorative garments.


This shape is useful and compact. It represents unity, continuity and economy.

Natural Shapes

Natural shapes are shapes that are found in nature, and some shapes are made by man also. Some examples of natural shapes are leaves and puddles.

Abstract Shapes

Abstract shapes are those which are identifiable and are not real in the same way that natural shapes are, Example; A stick – figure drawing of an animal, alphabet graphs, icons and symbols can express an abstract shape (Figure 6.14).

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