Balance in Design (Part Two)

We are back with more about balance – a key stage in the 9 Principles of Design! 

Uneven elements present us with more possibilities for arranging the page and creating interesting designs than perfectly symmetrical objects. Asymmetrical layouts are generally more dynamic and by intentionally ignoring balance the designer can create tension, express movement, or convey a mood such as anger, excitement, joy, or casual amusement.

Then we have radial balance - on square and rectangular pages we generally place elements in orderly rows and columns. With radial designs the elements radiate from or swirl around in a circular or spiral path. Parts of the design must still be arranged so that they are balanced across the width and length of the page, unless you're intentionally aiming for a lack of balance. 

Rule of thirds, visual centre, grids underlying most of the layouts on the previous pages are three related aspects of page layout and balance. These are layout principles that help the designer achieve arrangements with visual balance. The rule of thirds says that most designs can be made more interesting by visually dividing the page into thirds vertically and/or horizontally and placing our most important elements within those thirds. Take this concept a step further, especially in photographic composition, by dividing the page into thirds both vertically and horizontally and placing your most important elements at one or more of the four intersections of those lines. Placing important elements or the focal point of the design within the visual centre of a piece is another design trick. The visual centre is slightly to the right of and above the actual centre of a page.

Roughly dividing a page into thirds or finding the visual centre is relatively easy and you don't usually have to be exact to achieve your goals. However, constructing the underlying structure of a piece is a bit more complicated – but essential for most designs. Most balanced designs (and even unbalanced ones) rely on a grid. This invisible structure (visible while working in your page layout program) helps ensure that you place all the elements in the right location to achieve balance as well as to help with continuity and consistency of design. Grids can be simple or complex depending on the needs of the design and the designer. Sometimes grids are obvious - make sure you use them as they do the world of good to your design!

Next week we'll be going through more of the Principles of Design, so stay tuned! 

Posted 4 months ago

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