We are back and this time we are talking about the balance in design – a key stage in the 9 principles of design!
Balance – for most of our reading, our eyes and minds are most comfortable with evenly balanced layouts where the graphics don't overpower the text and the page doesn't seem to tilt to one side or the other. Balance provides stability and structure to a design. Balance is an equal distribution of weight in the design by the placement of your elements. The elements don’t necessarily need to be of the same size. Balance can be achieved by placing a large element on one side of your design and several small elements on the other side. Visual balance comes from arranging elements of design on the page so that no one section is heavier than the other. Or, a designer may intentionally throw elements out of balance to create tension or a certain mood. Balance is an equal distribution of weight. In terms of graphics, this applies to visual weight. Each element on a layout has visual weight that is determined by its size, darkness or lightness, and thickness of lines. Colour, value, mass, shape, and texture can be used as balancing elements!
Here we then have symmetrical balance; it is easiest to see in perfectly centred compositions or those with mirror images. In a design with only two elements they would be almost identical or have nearly the same visual mass. If one element was replaced by a smaller one, it could throw the page out of symmetry. To reclaim perfect symmetrical balance, you might need to add or subtract or rearrange the elements so that they evenly divide the page such as a centred alignment or one that divides the page in even segments (halves, quarters, etc.). Symmetrical balance is achieved when the weight of the elements on both halves of the design is even, given a centre line. Symmetrical balance can communicate strength and stability and is appropriate for traditional and conservative publications, presentations, and web sites.
When a design can be centred or evenly divided both vertically and horizontally it has the most complete symmetry possible. Symmetrical balance generally lends itself to more formal, orderly layouts. They often convey a sense of tranquillity, familiarity, elegance or serious contemplation!
Then we have asymmetrical balance - asymmetrical design is typically off-centre or created with an odd or mismatched number of disparate elements. You can still have an interesting design without perfect symmetry. Asymmetrical balance can imply contrast, variety, movement, surprise, and informality. It is appropriate for modern and entertaining publications, presentations, and web sites. With asymmetrical balance you are evenly distributing the elements within the format which may mean balancing a large photo with several small graphics. Or, you can create tension by intentionally avoiding balance.
We will be back next Friday for more about balance in design - stay tuned and happy designing!