If something looks “off”, it is usually lacking visual balance. The key to having any effective marketing or promotional piece capture your customer’s attention is to have balance in graphic design. It’s important for your design to be cohesive, balanced and satisfy your goal or campaign. Developing a visual balance of graphic and text elements will allow the viewer to understand the effect of the design while capturing their attention. Many elements that contribute to balance in graphic design are subtle and can easily change the way a goal or campaign is perceived. It’s important to have a balance of symmetry in your design.
Text and images hold visual weight. It is essential to have an even balance of graphics and text. Having too many images or graphics will detract from the overall message of the design. The campaign and call to action risk not being relayed if a design is graphically dominated. Contrarily, having too much text without graphics will strain the viewer and potentially lose their attention. Having large groups of text without visual relief will ultimately retract for a design’s effectiveness to capture a wider audience. Balance in graphic design looks like a healthy distribution between text and graphics on a certain design. Visually this can be achieved with a symmetrical balance of images and text.
For example, a three column design would have images distributed evenly on the left and right while the center column held the text content that allows the viewer to understand its purpose. Using the visual weight of the elements in your design, you can achieve other types of balance as well. For example, a two column design could achieve balance by having the important text on one column and corresponding graphics or images on the facing column. This allows for the text to be read easier and including visual elements allows the viewer to have relief while processing your design.
However in some cases, there may be a disproportionate amount of text or graphics. When dealing with this, there are other ways to achieve balance in graphic design. Applying the following principles of design will allow many various elements to work together with visual cohesion.
Color is a major factor in balance. Colors hold various weights and connotations. By utilizing brighter and vibrant colors in small areas of your design, they can demonstrate importance and easily capture the attention of the viewer. Balancing these bright colors minimally with larger areas of neutral or lighter colors helps the viewer designate what elements of the design are most important while maintaining a visual balance.
The next tool is the use of shapes. Shapes in your design will help you achieve a harmonious balance. Straying away from squares and large blocks of text, some designs will use other shapes to achieve balance. Flowing through constant blocks of text and images becomes monotonous. Incorporating different shapes in your design provides visual relief from an otherwise very heavy and sometimes overwhelming visual balance. However, monotony is not always a bad thing. Leading us to our next tool of balance, patterns.
The use of patterns in your design will also help develop a repeatable balance in graphic design. By having recurring elements or calls to action in your design, the viewer will familiarize themselves with the design and have a better understanding of what elements are important to them. Keeping consistency and cohesiveness throughout your designs will cultivate an image that your design is synonymous with. This also contributes greatly to the development of a brand, allowing your designs to have a branded look from one design to the next.
The final tool to having successful balance in graphic design is motion. As mentioned earlier, having a logical flow of elements on your design is required. Incorporating motion in your design can be achieved in many ways. In some cases you could use an image that captures the viewer but points them to the substance of the design. Text in motion is as simple as having visual hierarchy. Using headers, sub-headers and copy, the viewer can move through the design in a logical and progressive manner. Motion on your design can also be achieved by using specific text alignment. This can visually help the viewer process through your design with an understanding of what is important and what comes next.
Utilizing all these tools together results in a design that is balanced, effective and has visual harmony. Applying these practices will fix the “something looks off” problem as well as developing a strong and consistent design style going forward. For more information on balance in graphic design, check out our Graphic Design and Branding Page.