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Articles: An Introduction to Design Principles: Balance

 

DESIGN ELEMENTS
When designing, you need to take all of this into account, even if some of them are unconscious choices. Over the next few months, we'll be discussing each one of these. Just keep checking back to the website!
Color & Value
Line
Shape
Space
Texture

The elements are put together in rules of design, which are called "Principles."

These principles of design include
Balance
Proportion
Rhythm
Emphasis
Unity

Balance is concerned with the distribution of visual interest, or what is placed where in a composition. There are two systems for controlling balance:
Symmetry = A Mirror Image = Formal Balance
Asymmetry = Without Symmetry = Informal Balance

Visual interest is what you balance in your design. Different design elements (see above) create different degrees of interest. It is the distribution of this interest that you need to control. The subject matter changes the situation because different objects can call more (or less) attention to themselves because of their content and relationships to other objects in the piece you are creating, whether is is a 2D or 3D piece of art.

Balance is usually a desirable characteristic of a composition. There are times, however, when it is desirable to deliberately throw the balance off in order to call more attention to some aspect of an image.

SYMMETRY
Symmetry means a mirror image, or one side is the mirror image of the other. Symmetry can occur in any orientation as long as the image is the same on either side of the central axis. This type of image has great appeal and it makes for "good" (and "easy") shape relationship. Many people automatically gravitate to symmetry. We are symmetrical after all -- two eyes, two ears, etc.. Look around at consumer products (your furniture, you clothes) and graphics (printed materials) to see how many use symmetry. You will find that it is the dominant organizational concept. It usually means that no part of the composition calls too much attention to itself at the expense of the rest of the artwork. This increases unity, but decreases variety, and hence interest.

NEAR SYMMETRY
Near symmetry is based on symmetry but the two halves are not exactly the same. Slight variations will probably not change the balance but there is more potential for variety and hence more interest. Near symmetry is more versatile than pure symmetry.

ASYMMETRY
When the two sides become radically different, symmetry ceases to exist. Balance must depend on other concepts and elements.

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