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Emphasis, Focus and


Emphasis is a principle of art which occurs any time

an element of a piece is given dominance by the
artist. In other words, the artist makes part of the
work stand out, in order to draw the viewer's eye
there first.
All worthy works of art employ emphasis for, lacking
this principle, a piece seems monotonous and boring
to the eye.

What is Emphasis?

What is Emphasis?

Dominance describes a situation

something is more important or more
noticeable than its surroundings.
Most art is used to communicate -- to tell a story or
present a point of view. There is usually a focal point,
a place where the action begins.
This is necessary to control what will be noticed first,
what is dominant in an image, and where the
viewer's attention will go from there.

What is Dominance?

When there is dominance there must be

subordination (things lower in ranking). In art this
means that some things get more attention and some
get less.

What is Subordination?

Emphasis - say "Center of Interest." Most artists

put the focus a bit off center and balance it with
some minor themes to maintain our interest.
Emphasis is created in a work of art when the
artist contrasts colors, textures, or shapes to
direct your viewing towards a particular part of
the image.
Emphasis is also sometimes called accentuation.
Focus and contrast are the same principle as
emphasis and variety.


Emphasis is also referred to as point of focus, or

interruption. It marks the locations in a
composition which most strongly draw the viewers
Usually there is a primary, or main point of
emphasis, with perhaps secondary emphasis in
other parts of the composition. The emphasis is
usually an interruption in the fundamental pattern
of movement of the viewers eye through the
composition, or a break in the rhythm.


FOCUS is the emphasized form or area which draws

attention and reveals the subject, central idea, or
theme of an image.
Emphasis is often achieved by using rhythm and
movement to lead the eye to an element that is
unique, or has a contrasting value, shapes, sizes,
or colors.

What is Focus?

Emphasis is the visual amplification of areas in

a work to draw more of a viewer's attention.
Focal point is one area that has been
emphasized to a greater extent than others in a
Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper uses linear
perspective as a tool for creating a focal point in
the center of the work.

Emphasis and Focal poin

Emphasis and Focal poin

Emphasis by size

Emphasis by shape

Emphasis by placemen

Emphasis by isolation

Some artists avoid emphasis on purpose. They want

all parts of the work to be equally interesting.

Absence of emphasis

Frequently, emphasis is achieved by means of

contrast. Obvious contrasting elements create focal
points, meaning: places to which one's attention
cannot help but be drawn.
maximumvisibility. The more contrast there is the
more noticeable an item is.

mphasis through Contras

While proportion deals solely with the sizes of the

parts, Contrast deals with their character.
Presence of contrast prevents dullness and
In section by low lobby to lofty hall
In faade by sizing of windows in different floors,
by projecting features

What is Contrast?

The large black circle in the upper left corner of his

work is different from everything else in the painting
and therefore it "stands out".

Elements placement within a format creates

contrast. Contrast can be created in size, shape,
color, texture, shape irregularities, etc.
Successful designs do not necessarily need a defined
focal point. Sometimes the designer wishes to
emphasize the entire composition surface over an
individual element.

ow to achieve Contras

Examples of contrast

Colour/Value:One of the greatest possible contrasts

in art is the difference between black and white
(value contrast).
Colour contrasts can be strong but usually not as
strong as value contrasts. Bright colours are
more attractive (attract attention) than dull
colours. There is room for a great deal of
manipulation in colour and value. That is one of
the reasons that colour is so difficult to use well.
To make something stand out use strong value
contrast. If colour is used make it bright,
preferably against a dull background. Different
colours that are the same value do not show as
much as you would expect

Colour Contrast

Value Contrast

Complimentary Contras

Perceptual Contrast

The Gherkin (by Norman Foster) and the Tower of

London (a thousand year old fortress).

Contextual Contrast