4 Elements of Design

The four elements of design create an eye-catching costume.
The four elements of design create an eye-catching costume. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

The four elements of design are crucial when designing a costume. If you don't take into account space, line, color and form when you design, the finished costumes will not be eye-catching or excite the imagination of the audience, and can even ruin a performance. Combine the four elements together in various ways to form a successful costume.


Space refers to the area between different shapes. This includes the silhouette of the actor's body, the distance between the actor wearing the costume and props, backgrounds or other actors, and the outline of the costume, if it is larger than the actor wearing it.


Line refers to how the costume is cut, the overall shadow cast by the actor in the costume, and the padding and seams on the costume. Lines vary based on thickness, direction, length and other physical attributes, with each accomplishing a different visual effect for the audience.


Color is the most eye-catching and arguably the most important element of design. Color can change in brightness, shade or vividness to accomplish a different effect on the costume and actor. Use color to match skin tone or scenery, or create a contrast with scenery to focus the audience's attention.

Shape and Form

Shape refers to a flat area on the costume, while form talks about a three-dimensional area on the costume. Different shapes can cause different reactions from the audience; squares and rectangles represent stability, while triangles and other shapes with diagonal sides portray drama and conflict. Shape and form can also apply to the silhouette and human body.

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