In our exploration of the principles of graphic design thus far, we’ve covered proximity alignmentrepetition, and contrast. Now it is time to explore how to define balance in graphic design.  

Principle of design: Balance

Balance definition: Stabilizing a design and distributing elements evenly. 

Good balance will give a design a more attractive and professional look, rather than looking jumbled or unordered. Try to think of Balance like a scale. As the designer, you want to evenly distribute your elements throughout the page. (Remember elements? Color, Value, Space, Line, Shape, Texture)

Balance doesn’t mean that a design has to be equal on both sides (symmetrical) in order to be balanced. An asymmetrical design distributes the elements throughout the page to create balance. Let’s take a look at each of these terms and see if we can understand how to apply them for a quality design.

Symmetrical Balance:

Notice that if you were to split the design directly in half, it would be essentially the same on both sides. This design distributes the elements (space, line, and shape) to achieve symmetrical balance. 

Identifying this type of balance is certainly easier, but this doesn’t mean that it is always better. This design certainly works very well with symmetrical balance, but let’s take a look at another design which may work better asymmetrically.

Asymmetrical Balance:

This design distributes the elements (color, line, and shape) to achieve asymmetrical balance. The designer used these elements to create a certain flow which compliments the design.

Notice that while you don’t see equal amounts of color, line, or shape on each side of the design, it still appears balanced. An unbalanced design may leave the viewer feeling confused or almost make them feel like tilting their head to one side to try to make the elements more balanced.

For example, this design, while it has some elements on each side, it’s lack of repetition (of colors, graphics, shapes, etc) make it feel relatively unbalanced.

This redesign adds several things that really make it feel balanced! Notice that the color of “Merry Christmas” has been changed to match the color of the red bulbs sprinkled throughout the page. Also, the shapes, lines and colors are distributed both on the lower right and the upper left to help make the design feel balanced. 

Here are some tips and tricks to help you achieve balance in your design:

  1. Try many different elements to achieve balance
  2. Play around with both types of balance before choosing one (make a few sketches)
  3. Avoid using symmetrical balance without thoroughly thinking through the design

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