top of page
  • Sara Nordling

Principles of Design: Emphasis

Woven work with surface pleating, base fabric also has contrasting horizontal stripe running under pleats.

Emphasis can also be described as an area of focus, a focal point, or some pop of interest. It is a bit of a change of pace in what is happening in the design. Perhaps it is a different color, a different sized shape or line, an introduction of a different texture. It does not have to be just one spot or in one place but should not occur with such frequency that it becomes an ordinary part of the design or a regular pattern.

Graphic of a square with a large square in the center and smaller squares surrounding it.

An example of emphasis that works. The emphasis being the large square in the center.

This one is symmetrical but it is easy to have emphasis without symmetry as well.

Woven work with surface pleating.  Pleats also have 3 horizontal stripes in magenta.

Emphasis can occur in more than one place on a design. Here the 3 horizontal stripes in magenta add a point of interest to the gradients in the pleats and a touch of needed brightness.

There is such a thing as over emphasis. This is where the special something you added becomes too dominant and becomes the only thing noticed at the expense of the rest of the design. Bulls eyes come to mind where your eye is strongly drawn to the center and stays there, not looking at the outer edges or moving throughout the design. However, there are other ways to overdue emphasis as well. For example: when your pop of color is too vibrant for the rest of the weaving; shapes or stripes used for emphasis that are so large and bold that they throw off the balance; or having too many changes and special areas that instead of emphasis chaos ensues.

Graphic if a rectangle with a small orange rectangle in the center.

Be aware that your emphasis may take on too much power

and be the only thing that is noticed in your work.

In weaving there may be special additional concerns, having to do with the function or purpose of the textile being made. In making an apparel item, for example you may not want a strong emphasis placed on those parts of the body that we usually downplay, the stomach, crotch or breast areas, for instance. These may be the most obvious examples but there are others; for example, a scarf where the emphasis is placed where it won’t be seen because of how it drapes around a neck.

Graphic of a shirt with two large circles in breast area.

This graphic is showing how you wouldn't want to use emphasis in apparel. At least I wouldn't.

Graphic of a shirt with three vertical stripes on right, 2 horizontal stripe on bottom and 2 horizontal stripes on each sleeve.

This graphic shows how emphasis can be used more effectively on a

garment to add a interest but not where you don't want the attention.

Challenge: Design a placemat demonstrating emphasis, using shape as a prominent element. If you made a list of ways to create shapes in weaving, refer to them now. You may design this placemat for something your loom is capable of weaving or as an inspirational piece for the loom you wish you had. You may share images or sketches of your design.

516 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page