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Design Articles

Creating Visual Impact

A print design project communicates a message, but that message will go unnoticed unless your marketing project has the visual impact to get a reader's attention...Read More

Typography: Choosing the Right Typeface for your Project

The typeface that you choose for your print project is an important piece of the overall design process. With over 20,000 typefaces available and more being created every day, where do you begin? Read More

Optimizing Website Photographs and Graphics

How long do you wait for a website to load before clicking away and trying another URL? Most people won’t wait longer than an average of 8 seconds with a 56K modem. Although many things can effect the load time of a website, improper and overuse of graphics and images is one of the more frequent problems...Read More

Principles of Design

In design, balance is best understood when compared to the physical world. Think of a physical object, such as a glass of water. When the glass is tipped or off balance, it falls over and spills. To keep a scale in balance it must have equal weight...
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Using Dashes in Typography

The shortest dash; should only be used between words or to break syllables at the end of a line of type...
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Principles of Design

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Balance - An arrangement of parts achieving a state of equilibrium between opposing forces or influences.

Formal Balance

In design, balance is best understood when compared to the physical world. Think of a physical object, such as a glass of water. When the glass is tipped or off balance, it falls over and spills. To keep a scale in balance it must have equal weight on both sides. Note that the weight does not have to be made up of identical objects. Similarly, if an object placed on a page fails to fulfill our “visual equilibrium” the design will appear off balance. When a design has balance, all of the elements appear grounded. This can be achieved through symmetry or asymmetry.

Approximate Symmetry

Symmetrical or Formal Balance is accomplished by distributing elements equally around a central vertical or horizontal axis. Although this assumes identical mirrored elements, balance can also be created using different element of an equal weight and placement. This is called approximate symmetry. Using symmetry in a design produces a sense of stability and a lack of tension that requires little work on the part of the viewer.

Informal Balance

Asymmetrical or Informal Balance occurs when the weight of a composition is not evenly distributed around a central axis. One method in obtaining balance in an asymmetrical design is to offset a dominant element with a group of smaller elements. A large neutral colored object can be balanced with the use of a deeper hue elsewhere in the layout.  Asymmetry in a design creates visual tension while preventing the design from appearing static and superficial.

Rhythm - The regular or ordered repetition of dominant and subordinate elements or units within a design.


Types of Rhythm

Rhythm in visual art is achieved through the creating a sense of movement. The repeated placement of elements, lines, or color can move the viewers focus from one point to another.

If one thinks of rhythm in conjunction with nature, it becomes apparent that humans rely on a universal sense of timing, from the change of seasons, the rising and setting of the sun, changes in temperature and the internal rhythms that let us know when it is time to eat, sleep, or become active. Applying this principle to art can achieve a sense of unity and progression that subconsciously feels right.

Proportion - The relation or adaptation of one portion to another, or to the whole, as respect magnitude, quantity, or degree; comparative relation; ratio; as, the proportion of the parts of a building, or of the body.


The proportion of elements provides weight or emphasis which draws the eye to a focal point of the design. Proportion works along with balance and rhythm to create a smooth flow beginning with the largest object or element and moving in a hierarchal pattern throughout the design. The use of grid systems can help an overall design retain proportion and balance.

by Patrice Roarke, Creative Director and owner of Artisan Design Studio.

Sources:
Goodman, A. The 7 essentials of graphic design. Cincinnati, OH: HOW Design Books.
Lapow Toor, Marcellle, Graphic Design on the Desktop. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Leland, Nita, Exploring Color. Cincinnati, OH: Northern Light Books.

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