Reviewing the Fundamentals: The Principles of Graphic Design
No matter how experienced you are in the field, it’s always good to take the time to review design fundamentals. The principles of graphic design outline the ways designers can use elements in a composition. These principles act as guidelines for creating successful design, but that’s not to say you can only make great design by following these rules. Sometimes breaking the rules is justified, but it’s important know what they are so you know why you’re breaking them. With that being said, here are the principles of graphic design.
Pablo Picasso said, 'Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.' Click To Tweet
Balance is a visual distribution of weight. A balanced composition will carry the viewer’s eye around the work and feel well balanced throughout. There are three types of balance in design: asymmetrical (visually different but still feels balanced), symmetrical, (visually the same and balanced) and radial (balanced around a central point and may or may not be visually similar). When considering balance, keep in mind that placement is important. Think of it like a seesaw; balance is achieved when elements of equal weight are placed at an equal distance.
Contrast is used to bring attention to specific elements. Changing the color value is a great way to make objects stand out and attract the viewer’s eye. To make elements “pop”, use a higher contrast and to make object more subtle try a lower contrast. Contrast is also seen when two or more opposing elements are paired together. For example, a serif and sans serif font, big and small shapes or thick and thin lines. The main focus when using contrast in design is to use opposing elements.
Emphasis is used to attract attention to a particular element in a composition. The specific element or area is usually in contrast with the rest of the piece. The main purpose of this principle is to create a focal point. This can be achieved by using shape, line, color, texture, size, value, and placement to bring attention to the main element.
Repetition is pretty straightforward. It’s the repetitive use of design elements to bring unity and consistency to a composition. Using the same element multiple times can help tie together the composition as a whole and bring movement to the design. Even though elements repeat, you can still bring variety to this principle of design by changing the placement, color, size, etc. The main point of repetition is to develop a pattern.
Movement is a visual path used to bring motion and unity to a composition. Lines, shapes and colors can be used to create a sense of direction and led the viewer’s eye to a specific element or area.
Rhythm is when elements are repeated in a composition to create a feeling of organized movement. There are three types of rhythm: regular (predictable pattern), flowing (organic pattern) and progressive (stepped variations). This principle of graphic design creates a visual mood for the composition and sets the tone for the design. Repeating a variety of elements brings a sense of excitement to the work as oppose to repeating similar elements for emphasis.
Lines and placement
Squares and color
Unity uses design elements to create a feeling of complete balance. The purpose behind this design principle is to achieve harmony.
Unified by shape
Unified by an axis
Do you know the principles of graphic design? Download the Principles of Graphic Design infographic to use as a quick reference guide, then take the quiz to test what you know. Don’t forget to share your score below! 😛