Principles of Design

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Principles of Design

By | April 2011
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Unity and Variety ( Balance ( Emphasis and Subordination

Scale and Proportion ( Rhythm and Repetition

Directional Forces ( Contrast



← Unity is a sense of oneness, of things belonging together. Also called harmony, it is concerned with combining similar elements to create a pleasing appearance.

← Variety is concerned with combining art elements by adding slight changes to increase visual interest.


• refers to the achievement of equilibrium, the condition in which acting influences are held in check by opposing forces

• concerned with arranging art elements in an artwork so no one part of that work overpowers, or seems heavier than, any other part

• a function of visual weight

Visual weight

• refers to the apparent “heaviness” or “lightness” of the forms arranged in a composition, as gauged by how insistently they draw our eyes.

• When visual weight is equally distributed to either side of a felt or implied center of gravity, we feel that the composition is balanced.

Symmetrical Balance

• also called formal balance

• occurs when one half of a 3d form or a 2d composition mirrors or closely resembles the other half

The implied center of gravity is the vertical axis, an imaginary line drawn down the center of the composition

Relieved Symmetry

• the close but not exact correspondence between two sides of a composition

Asymmetrical Balance

← also called informal balance

← occurs when 2 sides of a composition do not match except for what seems to be a balance in visual weight

← often used to create interesting, true-to-life visual statements

On balance…

1. A large form is heavier, more attractive, or more attention-getting than a small form. Thus, two or more small forms can balance one large form.

2. Intense colors are heavier than weak or...

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