October 22, 2015

Balance in Design

People like balance. We notice when things are out of balance and have a natural tendency and unconscious expectation toward it. It could be our innate sense of balance, the symmetry in nature and our own visual make-up that causes us to look for order. When balance does not exist it can create a sense of displacement and discord.

It is therefore clear that visual balance is a crucial aspect in making your design effective and efficient. If your design is off-balance your communication will feel disorganized and can make your audience feel uncomfortable. It is important to create a sense of visual balance to invite and allow people to relax, hang out and look around.

Visual balance in design is achieved through the equal distribution of visual weight that is influenced by a number of factors:

  • Position – the further out an object is from the centre or fulcrum the heavier it will feel. A smaller object near the edge can balance a larger object placed near the centre.
  • Size – larger feels heavier.
  • Texture – complex texture is visually heavier than simple or no texture.
  • Isolation – elements that are isolated have more visual weight.
  • Value – darker feels heavier.
  • Value contrast – the higher the value contrast, e.g. black and white, the heavier the weight.
  • Quantity – many smaller objects can balance one large object.
  • Orientation – diagonal orientation carries more visual weight than horizontal or vertical.
  • Shape – complex shapes feel heavier compared to simple shapes.
  • Color – bright and intense colors have a heavier feel.

The concept of visual equilibrium is the reconciliation of opposing forces and visual weights in a stable composition. It is achieved through symmetrical or asymmetrical, radial and crystallographic layout.

Symmetrical balance, also known as formal balance, is the even and equal placement of visual weight on equal sides of a central point.

Asymmetric (informal) balance is more complex and difficult. It involves the placement of objects of varying visual weight to balance one another around a central point. For example a cluster of small objects balanced by a large object.

Radial balance occurs when equally distributed visual weights radiate out from a central focal point.

Crystallographic balance is achieved through repeating elements of equal visual weight across the layout. Such as a pattern where emphasis is uniform and there is no distinct focal point.

Visual balance is key to attracting and accurately disseminating your message to your audience. At Surf Pacific we work hard to create a design that is not only unique but also aesthetically pleasing and efficiently conveys your message.