8 julio, 2024

What are the Elements of Plastic Expression?

The elements of plastic expression They comprise the set of pictorial resources that will allow the construction of images according to the author’s intentions. The following elements of plastic expression can be considered: the point, the line, the color (some include the value within it), the texture, the volume and the shape.

It should be noted that some authors also include others, as a result of the changes that have arisen throughout the history of art. These resources, typical of the plastic arts, are characterized by having their defined norms and rules, as well as a variety of representations that are in themselves a type of structured language.

A work of art can contemplate any of the plastic elements, but not necessarily all of them because their use will be subject to the objectives pursued by the artist.

Main elements of plastic expression


In the plastic arts, the dot has a basic role as a fundamental graphic element for the composition of images. That is, it is the minimum unit that is represented within a plane. Some main characteristics of the point are the following:

It can be generated through a small mark on the surface made with any implement: pencil, brush, brush, among others.
Create tension and direction.
From the point more complex shapes emerge; this is because its edges, being flexible, allow it to be adjusted and transformed into other elements.
A sequence of points generates a line.
Put alone on the plane, the point generates attraction.

dot expressions

According to experts, the point has fulfilled an essential role during the development of the history of humanity. For example, it has been indicated that thanks to the point, man has been able to express sensations, at the same time that he builds a form of communication. Therefore, the following is obtained:

The first findings of the point are visible in the cave paintings made during Prehistory. This stage is considered the origin of artistic expression.
Over time it has become a key element for other manifestations outside the world of art as a consequence of the advancement of technology. The term pixel is an example of this.
It has been the basis for artistic currents such as pointillism and pixelism. The latter corresponds to a recent artistic movement.


The achievement of a series of points in the plane forms a line. As in the previous case, the line can generate dynamism and tension as it is available.

Two types emerge from this: the geometric line, which is expressed in a uniform way; and the plastic line, whose stroke is free and of almost infinite varieties.

In the same way, the line has a series of attributes:


It has to do with the pressure of the instrument that we make on the work surface.


It is related to the intensity of the line: the higher the intensity, the thicker the line.


It is the continuous production of the line, but maintaining its appearance.

Through the line it is possible to find a series of connotations. For example, if you want a feeling of rest, a straight line is ideal. However, if you want to create disorder or chaos, zigzag or wavy lines can be used.


The texture is associated with the appearance of the surface of the materials and the structures that are part of the elements in a composition.

In addition, the sensation of texture is given by what can be perceived through touch (hard, smooth, rough) and sight (opaque, transparent, shiny, metallic, iridescent).

There are two types:

natural texture

That which is perceived in the elements of nature: from the bark of a tree to the skin of a zebra.

artificial texture

Corresponds to materials and surfaces created by man. Steel and lace are examples of this type of texture.

Texture can be expressed in different areas:

In sculpture, it is determined by the surface of the work’s material, as well as by its recreation in the work. Thanks to this, a piece can feel cold, warm, strong or soft.
In painting it is expressed because the work is in a two-dimensional plane. The artist makes use of the line, the tools and the use of color to generate different types of textures. For example, stiff-bristled spatulas and brushes will give the impression of hard, rigid surfaces.


It is considered one of the most complex elements within the composition because, essentially, it is the light that is reflected on the surface of the objects.

Regarding the plastic arts, color is supported by color theory, a resource that allows the use of this element to obtain the desired result.

Color has been the object of study for both artists and scientists. Initially, it was assumed that there are three primary or primitive colors: yellow, blue and red. The rest of the ranges arise from these colors.

However, science and technology have been in charge of expanding the classification to make it as follows:

additive synthesis

The primary colors are red, green and blue. These come from light sources that, when added, form lighter tones. They are used for lighting.

subtractive synthesis

Pigments lead to color subtraction. The primary colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow. These colors are commonly used for printing and the use of inks.

traditional classification

They arise from the mixture of the traditional and widely known colors: yellow, blue and red. The mixture of these determines the secondary colors: purple, green and orange. It is artistic in nature.

color wheel

The search for the understanding of color allowed the conformation of the chromatic circle, a resource that allows illustrating the interaction of the different shades of color. It is made up of the primary, secondary colors and the resulting union of the first two.

On the other hand, white and black are not added within the circle because they are not considered colors in themselves, since the first represents the presence of light and the second shows the absence of it.


This term is related to color and has to do with the lightness and/or darkness of a certain color. They are determined by black and white. A few value considerations can be named:

Black has an index of zero value or no light.
White has a maximum value index and is the representation of light.
Gray is the combination of white and black; however, it is not considered a value.
Through the value it is possible to determine the animosity of the work. For example, dark tones generate mystery or heaviness when mixed with other colors.
The value is related to the contrast technique.


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