Understanding the Importance of Balance in Graphic Design
With any design you create, you should be thinking about the many principles of graphic design, whether it's contrast, unity, emphasis, etc. In order for your design to be successful however, you need to ensure that you have visual balance. This article will teach you how the principle of balance should be considered for all your designs.
Balance is the placement of elements in a graphic design; everything has a visual weight to it. If you have a dark color next to a lighter color, the dark element would naturally feel heavier in the design.
If you were to see a building leaning over to one side, you would most likely feel a little concerned and probably wouldn't go in it. While not quite as extreme, the same is true for your designs. It's human nature for people to like some type of balance for the stability and structure it provides.
If you don't have a sense of balance with your designs then the viewer's eye won't know where to look, and what you're trying to communicate may not get across. How can you have balance in a design if you need to have contrast, and a focal point? Those principles can often be essentially the exact opposite of balance.
Having balance doesn't mean you can't have a focal point, but you should be considering how you distribute the other elements in your design to try and maintain a visual balance. And balance doesn't mean that every element has to be distributed perfectly symmetrical, balance can be achieved through asymmetry as well. You can think of it like the seesaw you might have played on when you were young, you could have different weights on each side but make it balanced by how the heavier person was positioned.
With symmetrical balance, the visual weight is distributed evenly, either vertically or horizontally. You can draw a line straight through the middle of the design, and the visual balance would be evenly distributed. A symmetrical composition appears to be stable, and creates a more orderly look.
You can see a great example of this in the image above. Both sides of the composition carry the same visual weight, neither side feels heavier than the other. This would be a perfectly balanced design.
However, as soon as you change the color of one of the sides to a dark value, and the other a lighter value notice what happens. Doesn't the darker value make that side feel just a bit heavier than the other side? It's important to keep in mind that while symmetrical balance is great, and allows for the viewers eye to get a stronger sense of the design, it doesn't always relate to an interesting design.
Balance Through Asymmetry
An asymmetrical composition is intended to create a deliberate imbalance of the elements in the design. It can create tension and give your composition a sense of movement. This means that the elements of the design are not distributed evenly on the composition. One side can feel heavier than the other, but there is still balance to it.
For instance, you can have several smaller elements balance out one large element, or smaller elements positioned further away from the center of the composition than the larger element. The elements are not the same size, and not positioned evenly like that of symmetrical balance, but it still gives your composition a sense of balance, while creating visual interest.
You can see a great example of asymmetrical balance in the image above. The elements on the top feel a bit heavier than the bottom, but it helps to create tension, and to lead the viewer's eye toward the focus of the composition which is the "character design" text.
There are many different ways to achieve balance in your designs. One of the ways is with color. You can incorporate small areas in your design with vibrant colors to balance out larger areas of neutral colors. You can also use varying shapes to balance out a design or the position of elements within a composition.
Now that you have a stronger understanding of how balance plays a key role in the success of your designs make sure you're considering this principle for your next project. Whether it's asymmetrical or symmetrical balance you should be thinking about which will work best for your composition. You can get a more in-depth look at balance and how it can be used alongside some of the other essential graphic design principles with the Keys to Amazing Graphic Design Layouts tutorial.