NHS Designs

the suggestion of motion in a work of art, either by represented gesture in figurative painting or sculpture or by the relationship of structural elements in a design or composition.

related concepts

  • linear movement
  • visual movement with lines and shapes, value and perspective

Graphic Design Principles of Visual Design


Visual movement is used by artists to direct viewers through their work, often to a focal area.

Such movements can be directed along lines, edges, shapes, and colors within the works, but moves the eye most easily on paths of equal value.

Movement in Fine Art

Diego Rivera - Liberation of the Peon
Diego Rivera - "Liberation of the Peon", 1931

Rivera's painting is charged with emotion and filled with history. The naked slave (peon) is being cut free from political tyranny as well as physical enslavement by the liberating soldiers. All movement leads to the focus, where a knife is cutting the binding ropes. Notice how emphasis is placed on the act of liberation rather than on the liberating heroes. Movement is also created when we observe the direction in which the human eyes are looking—directly at the peon. This causes our eyes to follow theirs, creating visual movement toward the focus. The horses look directly at us, which draws us into the grouping of figures and horses.

Source: Elements and Principles of Design: Student Guide with Activities, published by Crystal Productions

Movement in Graphic Design

In graphic design, movement is also known as flow.

Flow is the combination of elements to guide the viewer around the design in the correct direction. Flow begins and ends with the dominant element to help keep the eye moving constantly around the design. You never want the eye to stop.

Why is important?

You want the viewer to see everything in the correct order and you want the viewer to look at your design for as long as possible. Flow can achieve this.

How to achieve it

  • Lines: The eye will naturally follow lines from start to end
  • Abstracted arrows
  • Text: headlines; people read from left to right

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