August 2022
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Art Lessons for L&D

Monday, August 1, 2022

Incorporate design principles into your training materials to visually help learners grasp the content.

Are your learning deliverables capturing learners' attention and holding it? You may not have much time to dedicate to the aesthetics of training materials, but the quality of your visual design affects how learners both appreciate and understand your content.


That's where six design principles—balance, pattern, rhythm, emphasis, contrast, and unity—can help you. In "Bring Design Mastery to L&D," Brittany Harris presents examples of artwork from artistic masters and demonstrates the design principles those artists used. She then shows how to apply the principles to learning assets.

For example, use balance to distribute elements across one or more axes to provide structure and stability. That may mean using two or three columns for an even distribution of information rather than listing all elements on one side of a slide.

Pattern and rhythm are closely related. Pattern stresses consistency through visual elements, while rhythm repeats or alternates elements to move learners along a path. Pattern helps emphasize the connection between concepts, and rhythm is useful for helping learners remember a specific process or sequence.


Emphasis enables you to call attention to a key takeaway. For instance, in Maestà by Duccio di Buoninsegna, the artist emphasizes Mary and the baby Jesus by presenting them as larger than the angels in the background. You can do the same in a learning deliverable by presenting the key takeaway in a more prominent manner.

Meanwhile, contrast uses opposing elements to draw attention to how they differ, but—unlike emphasis—one element is not necessarily more important than another; and unity creates a sense of harmony or wholeness among all the elements in a design.

These tips were adapted from the August 2022 issue of TD at Work. Learn more at

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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Thank you for sharing. Key points to appeal to learners and for learning retention.
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