Last week I introduced balance and dove head-first into symmetrical balance. This week we’ll be taking a look at radial balance art.
The interesting thing about radial art is that it is also always symmetrical. On the other hand, an artwork that displays symmetrical balance is not necessarily radial. Radial balance means that the artwork is symmetrical when you cut it in half from several directions. This is because all the elements used in the artwork (line, shape, color, etc.) “radiates” from a central point on the page. It may not be perfectly the same on all sides, but in the same way that symmetrically balanced artwork is essentially the same from side to side, radial balance will feel harmonized and balanced from the center.
The image below is a simple example of how radial art can be created. You determine the center of the page, create a design on one portion of the page, and then rotate and mirror that design around the page.
You can see the evidence of radial balance throughout history, from religious art to nature to contemporary art. The circular formation that radial balance often displays appeals to many cultures and religions because the circle symbolizes wholeness and unity.
Architectural art and rose windows display radial designs in churches and cathedrals. It was a popular form of balance for artists and architects during the middle ages. Artists at that time were exploring how to achieve perfection in their art, and the nature of the circle (with no beginning and no end) makes perfection seem possible.
Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism also used radial balance throughout their cultures because of the circle's infinite nature and visual harmony. Similar to the European artists in the middle ages, mandalas created by eastern artists create circular formations to symbolize order and perfection.
Radial balance is often seen in nature. There is a completeness that radial balance displays that are present in certain plants, snowflakes, and even some sea creatures to name a few. Not only that, but manmade designs are sometimes made to mimic these natural radial designs (think umbrellas or bike tires).
This design by ULTER studios, based in Mexico, is an excellent example of radial art that can be made digitally. I love the use of color and value used throughout each design.
Radial designs are present more often than you might think. This week, make a point of looking for them and see how many you see!
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