How to Use Balance in Graphic Design

Each graphic designer has a unique style, but the real trick is successfully completing a balancing act with your style to make sure that it is visually appealing. In this Atlantic Design blog post, I'm going to teach you how to use balance to get the most out of your design.

Balance is simply the distribution of elements within a design. It doesn't always mean that everything sits directly in the center of the layout - although that is one option of using symmetrical design. Balance means that the design is weighted to create a certain visual/emotional reaction or affect functional readability within the layout. Throughout this post, I'll be using an octagon with the Atlantic Design colors to show you exactly what all that means.

Symmetrical Balance

Symmetrical balance is exactly as it sounds - it means you can divide the layout into equal parts. Below is our first octagon.

This is the default when you're in doubt. Adobe tools have snap guides that help you drag and drop your design elements into exact center of each other element, including the center of the Artboard or Canvas that you're working on. It's quick and easy for those jobs that require rapid turnover, and perhaps not much attention to detail.

Asymmetrical Balance

Asymmetrical balance is not based on the centerline of your layout. This type of balance is weighted according to the relative elements. Picture your design as if it were on a scale or a seesaw. One side will be heavier than the other, but it will still even out overall. See our sliced up octagon below?

Getting asymmetrical balance just right can be difficult when you have loads of elements in your layout, like patterns or many text elements. Here's when you have to pay attention to which elements are the most important. The design choices you make need to emphasize those elements to ensure your message is understood clearly.

Discordant Balance

For you delightful design daredevils: discordant balance is the riskiest form of design balance you can apply. If you're anything like me, you like to experiment to see what looks good - despite what traditional rules might tell you. To show you what discordant balance looks like, here's our final octagon for this post:

Typography in magazines typically uses discordant balance to attract your eyes, and make you focus on certain words or places on the page. Here's a really clean example from Harper's Bazaar Brazil:

Harper's Bazaar Brazil - November 2013
To close, how you choose to balance your work is a personal decision. Make sure your important elements can be seen and followed, and the rest of this balancing act should be a creative cakewalk.

If this post has helped you at all, please tag us @AtlanticDesignAgency in your designs so that we can see them, and encourage you along your design journey!


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