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Fraser McTaggart
Fraser McTaggart

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3 Painting concepts that can improve your website design

Painting has been around for thousands of years. During this time these painters have learned one or two things about design. Important things. The great news is that many of these fundamentals can be utilised when designing for the web. I have spent many years getting oil paint on every surface in my house. To save you time scrubbing your furniture, clothes and child with turps, I've put some of these fundamentals into a handy list for you.

Focal Points

You generally have focal points in paintings, photography and websites. These are areas that draw your attention. You don't want all of the elements competing for the viewers attention.
From the focal point you have to lead them by the hand to other parts of the painting. This is true with websites. You generally have a hero banner with something you want your users to do ( a call to action). These should be your focal points. Your call to action is usually the second focal point, after their attention is grabbed by an image or illustration. Sendinblue has a great video as their focal point. You look at the video first, then you are drawn to their call to action button.
Here is a great Waterhouse painting that has an incredibly strong focal point.

So how do we design a focal point? What makes something stand out? Usually, it is a change in a property of the colour.

The first way is a change in value, this is the easiest way to make something catch the viewers attention. I have made an image and split it in two. Each side has a small square with the same colour in the centre. As you can see, the one on the right draws your attention more. This is because the difference in value between the square and the background is greater than the other half.
Change In Value

The other way to make something stand out is to have a low saturated colour next to a saturated one. Which yellow square stands out more?
Change in Saturation
The one on the right. This is because the difference in saturation is greater.

Interesting Shapes

To keep an image exciting and interesting when painting or designing, it is vital that you have a variation of shapes. Stapleton Kearns calls ignoring this principle 'Potation' - where everything looks like potatoes ( or similar in shape ). If your site is just made up of only squares, then it can get visually boring for the user. Mix it up by overlapping elements, this also introduces depth.
Stapleton Kearns Clouds

This image is from the Dutch master Dirk Van Assaerts, which is actually a fictional persona made by Stapleton to highlight dumb design ideas.

On MCT Web I have used overlapping shapes to try and keep the user interested.
MCT Web overlapping

Space is important

Space creates interest. For an area to stand out, you need to have other areas that have less in them. This Rockwell painting has loads of negative space. Negative space is the space between things. The white in the shirt and chair split up the background and the focal points. These areas help to frame shapes and draw the eye.

Space is equally important in web design. Take a look at all this space on It makes it obvious to the user what they should do.
Then take a look at the famous LingsCars. It's not quite so obvious what you should do. It also emulates having a stroke, so there's that.

Let me know if you find this sort of post interesting, because there are many more principles that can be translated over and I would be happy to write about them.
You can get in touch with me via my website MCT Web

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