I had the privilege of sitting in on a talk by two-time Caldecott Honor winner Marla Frazee at the Austin SCBWI conference this weekend. She showed us examples of using those design elements to portray emotions in your illustrations. She is brilliant and this gentle reminder of getting back to the basics to tell the story visually was inspiring.
Her talk was on Storytelling Tools and Techniques. She reviewed:
Interpretation of Text
The Page Turn
Format - Size and Layout Options
She encouraged us to be aware of each choice we make in an illustration and how that can impact telling the story. She tries to get at the heart of the text to find what emotions need to be portrayed in each scene.
Want a refresher on those basic design principles? Here is a good link with all sorts of resources.