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Principles of Design

Principles of Design

Understanding principles of design

Graphic design is a media to convey visual message which has its own universal language, which is easily understandable by anybody. It uses different images, words, shapes,  infographics & design elements etc. Because it relates to a creative field, therefore, it has some principles to deliver good conceptual designs, which are called principles of design. Let us understand those:

1. Alignment

In graphic design everything on page is aligned not only vertically or horizontally but in any direction that allows them to create a visual connection with each other. It’s important to be focused on consistent and balanced design. Playing around with alignment can give an excellent improvement to the design.

2. Emphasis

Emphasis is a good element of design to bring eye on any particular message/point. It can be used within any design by using bold, italic or any decoration for text or it can be through size, visual weight, colour, complexity & uniqueness, for any graphic element on page, where ever we need to give some important message or impression in design, we use these different methods to convey proper message.

3. Movement

We can create movement using some lines or dots that get progressively larger or smaller in particular direction in any design either its 2D, 3D or any artwork. Signs of movements such as arrow or other inforgraphics are mostly used to achieve the goal in any information architecture for the convenience of user e.g. arrow sign in overfly signboard on any highway creates a movement.

Asymmetrical balance can create movement and interest, but still tries to retain a sense of stability.  Scale, contrast and color are often used to help achieve a balance when the design is asymmetrical. Other principles also help to contribute to create a movement. You should also be conscious to not block the movement of the eye by adding an element that breaks the flow of movement on page.

4. Balance

To create balance on page we distribute the weight in the design by right placement of design elements. We can evaluate these visual elements in several situations to find a form of balance. In this context perfectly symmetrical and linear compositions are not only necessarily create balanced, but asymmetrical or radial distributions of text and graphic elements also can achieve balance in any composition of design.

5. Contrast

To draw attention on any particular part on page to convey a message, we create contrast to stand out that element to get noticed. We create some conflict between elements to attract the eye on any specific place on page by using highlight key element in design with different things like:

  • Placing big element against a smaller one.
  • Mixing serif fonts with san-serif on page or font decoration like big, bold, italics etc.
  • Using opposite colour on the colour wheel such as black against white
  • Adding value darker against lighter one, etc.

Purpose of contrast is always to bring outstanding elements in notice on page. Using light grey text on a medium grey background is difficult to read or bring pink element on a neon background are jarring and uncomfortable to focus at.

6. Harmony

Graphic elements can work in harmony by placing compatible elements on page to create a meaningful whole. Dis-harmony is also required when we want to enhance emotional complexity or challenge the viewer and to give a contrast within the overall composition.

7. Proportion

Proportion is very useful when we create any dimensional or directional composition by using different elements of design. It indicates the relative visual size and weight of particular graphical elements in a design. Though individual abstract design does not have any sense but when we use abstract element of design in proportion that increases the beauty of design in out of the box way.

8. Proximity

Proximity does not mean that elements have to be placed together but it means they should create a visual connectivity on the whole somehow. It should create some relationship between elements, and should provide a focal point. When something stays in mind of viewer for a long time by viewing particular combinations of elements, it creates a good example of proximity. Things are not drawn within different element on page but are visible is a good example of proximity.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Gestalt

Gestalt is a concept from psychology, where theorists note the propensity of humans to conceptually group things together to make a meaningful whole. When viewing designs, humans apply this principle unconsciously by seeing connections and relationships among and between the elements in the design. The overall perception of gestalt in a design is created through harmony, unity, balance, proportion, proximity, and other visual cues. Designers can use this principle to create visual connections and relationships that clarify and strengthen the overall “feel” and meaning of the design.

9. Repetition

To keep design consistent, we use repetition of elements, font style & colour etc. But, excessive repetition makes design monotones sometime and layout turns into an uninteresting one. If we cannot avoid excessive repetitions, we should not forget to add some visual breaks and white spaces have rest for a while during navigating the design.

Repetition strengthens design by using in a rhythm to create a brand impression on mind. We can see many examples of repetition in magazine, books & website designs. Repetition helps to establish continuity and can tie your design together on a concept. This principle is also related to movement since the repeating elements can also create a sense of movement in your composition.

10. Rhythm

A strong, regular and repeated pattern of some elements or images in design in particular way is rhythm. Successful design has an effective flow in which text and other graphic elements are placed in a pattern to achieve visual impact and readability, for example if we write a poem in narrow column and there are many hyphenation it reduces the rhythm of poem. Images that interrupt a passage of text can break the rhythm for the reader and they could disturb the visual appearance of the page. The definition of rhythm is- the suggestion of motion through the use of various elements.

11. Unity

Use of elements in any design composition with balance and harmony to create a “whole” looking work together is unity. Unity is created by use of same colour, same font’s family or using similar graphic style for any design composition. Keeping items that are similar together can create a sense of unity and harmony in design. Sometimes this principle is referred to as “proximity”. Consistency is important to creating unity.

12. White Space

It is also called as “negative space” where “positive space” is defined as images, blocks of text and other graphic elements on page. In graphic this element of design plays important role to present design aesthetics. When we look at any design we not only read the content but we read the white space also, it creates a pause, breathing and delays when we read the overall concept. It includes margin, gutters, space between lines of types, off-set of text from images and any other part of the page that is empty. It is also important element like other elements of design.

White space can add to or detract from the balance, unity, harmony, rhythm, and overall success of a design. White space can give emphasis, contrast, and movement. It can be used for repetition and pattern, and work within various relationships with other elements of the positive and negative spaces in the design.

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