Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Design Tutorial: Balance

When making your layout for "Objects of my affection" try and incorporate balance.

To understand balance, think of the balance beam. When objects are of equal weight, they are in balance. If you have several small items on one side, they can be balanced by a large object on the other side. Visual balance works in much the same way. It can be affected not only by the size of objects, but also their value (ie. lightness or darkness, termed visual weight).

- Symmetrical Balance: Symmetrical balance is mirror image balance. If you draw a line down the center of the page, all the objects on one side of the screen are mirrored on the other side (they may not be identical objects, but they are similar in terms of numbers of objects, colors and other elements. Sometimes they are completely identical (often seen in architecture).
- Asymmetrical balance: Asymmetrical balance occurs when several smaller items on one side are balanced by a large item on the other side, or smaller items are placed further away from the center of the screen than larger items. One darker item may need to be balanced by several lighter items.
Although asymmetrical balance may appear more casual and less planned, it is usually harder to to use because the artist must plan the layout very carefully to ensure that it is still balanced. An unbalanced page or screen creates a feeling of tension, as if the page or screen might tip, or things might slide off the side, just as the unbalanced balance beam would tip to one side

o By color: Our eyes are drawn by color. Small areas of vibrant color can be used to balance larger areas of more neutral colors. Color is one of the most effective devices available for drawing attention to those page elements you most want noticed. For this device to be effective, your colors must be used sparingly.
o By value: Value refers to the darkness or lightness of objects. Black against white has a much stronger contrast than gray against white. To balance these two colors, you would need a larger area of gray to balance the stronger value of black.
o By shape: Large flat areas without much detail can be balanced by smaller irregularly shaped objects since the eye is led towards the more intricate shape
o By position:
o By texture: Smaller areas with interesting textures (variegated light and dark, or random fluctuations) can balance larger areas with smoother, un-textured looks
o By eye direction: Your eye can be led to a certain point in a picture depending on how the elements are arranged. If the people in a picture are looking in a certain direction, your eye will be led there as well. Elements in a picture, such as triangles or arrows, will also lead your eye to look to a certain point and maintain the balance of a picture.
- Radial Balance: The third type of balance is radial balance, where all elements radiate out from a center point in a circular fashion. It is very easy to maintain a focal point in radial balance, since all the elements lead your eye toward the center
- Crystallographic balance: This kind of balance is also known as "all over" balance. Within a grid-like composition, certain variation is introduced to direct the eye throughout the design, with many focal points. Some familiar examples would be quilt design or a game of checkers in the middle of the game.
However, imbalance can be used to create a mood or tension in your layouts.

Whoever has the most balanced layout will win this prize:http://www.mayaroad.com/new/product_info.php?cPath=1028&selected_box=configuration&products_id=680&PHPSESSIONID=87bf5b301214c22fa2fd09fbe699093b

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