After discussing symmetrical and radial balance, asymmetrical balance should be a breeze, right? You just put stuff on the page wherever you want and call it asymmetrical… Well, not exactly.
Asymmetrical balance means that the elements are distributed throughout the artwork.
In the English language, putting an “a” before a word translates to “not.” Therefore, Asymmetrical literally means NOT symmetrical. This raises the question, can the “visual scale” be balanced if it has the word NOT in its name?
No, this does not mean not balanced. In the same way that you can distribute physical weight throughout a teeter-tooter, visual weight can be distributed evenly throughout an artwork.
Creating an asymmetrical piece is more complicated than creating a symmetrical or radial one. The artist has to consider the elements (Color, Value, Space, Line, Shape, Texture, and Form) they put into the piece and distribute them to balance each other out. Finding your “asymmetrical eye” work takes time and patience, but it is worth the investment!
To achieve asymmetrical balance, you must consider how each element in the artwork will be placed in relationship with the other elements. Even if elements seem to be placed unequally or unevenly on the page, asymmetrical balance may be achieved due to the movement created by these elements.
For example, Several small elements on one side of a composition can balance a larger one on the other. Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” (1889) demonstrates how a large darker shape (the triangular trees shape) can help visually stabilize the rather whimsical lines in the sky. The large yellow moon shape is also counterbalanced by the small stars dotted throughout.
Where and how an artist places the elements on the page is key. In this artwork by Jyo John Mulloor, you can look at each of the elements he used individually and see how they interact with each other. There is a unifying dark blue color used throughout the artwork. The forms of the fish are repeated in a circular shape, drawing the eye around the page and then onto the face. The texture of the eyebrows and lips is similar to fish scales.
It may be more difficult to achieve and explain, but asymmetrical balance is worth it! Take some time to admire artwork from artists you admire to see how they incorporate the elements of design to achieve asymmetrical balance. The first step to understanding it is to recognize it!
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