Principles of Design

As an important principle of design balance is the distribution of design elements to produce equilibrium.

Balance is the attainment of optical and pyschological equilibrium in a composition. There are two main types of visual balance: Symmetrical and Asymmetrical. Symmetrical balance refers to an even distribution of visual weight on either side of an axis. Asymmetrical balance refers to a psychological or "felt" balance.

Balance is arranging elements so that no one part of a work overpowers, or seems heavier than any other part. To balance two objects on a scale, they must be of equally size and weight, right? But there are other ways.

You could balance a heavy object with two smaller objects that total the weight of the larger. Or you could move the heavier object closer to the center of the scale.

In design, you have similar decisions available to create the mood you seek. Furthermore, perfect design balance may not always be the best goal to create that emotion. Imbalance (asymmetry) can be used to create a mood or interest.

To keep viewers on their toes you could establish simple visual balance first; then consider ways to make your piece more energetic and interesting by throwing it slightly off balance. Viewers are easily bored by perfect balance.

You can obtain design balance in four ways:

    * symmetrical balance
    * asymmetrical balance
    * discordant or off-balance
    * radial balance

Symmetrical (Formal) Balance:

Symmetrical balance deals with designs whose halves are mirror images of one another. This type of balance usually connotes feelings of formality, tradition, dignity, security, and stability due to its predictability.

Symmetrical or formal design balance is achieved by placing elements in a very even fashion in the right side of your design which has an exact counterpart on the left side in size, placement, shape, and color. Symmetry creates a more classical and almost serene appearance. Balance is also created by distributing color evenly throughout the piece.

Centering is the easiest way to get a symmetrically balanced piece.

For a closer view of any of the following designs just click on the designer's name and you will be taken to their site where you can also check out some of their other creative designs for inspiration.

"Lady in the Moon Pendant Linked Necklace" by Jess Italia
This link style necklace is a classic example of a formal balance design where both sides of the pedant have the same design elements. In this piece the purple and turquoise work well with the antique brass pendant and findings. For tons of ideas and inspiration check out Vintaj Natural Brass Co. "Inspiration in every finding." Exclusively wholesale Jewelry Findings.

Mandie from jewellery.craft has done a fantastic job of maintaining symmetrical balance while still creating interest and variety in this stunning necklace. The wire swirls peeking out and round the beads create movement and the various bead sizes and shapes add texture.

Asymmetrical (Informal) Balance:

Asymmetrical balance deals with designs whose visual weights are equivalent but not identical. This balance is informal and active in nature, it suggests movement and spontaneity. Asymmetrical design balance tends to be more interesting than symmetrical balance and more difficult to achieve.

Uneven elements present us with more possibilities for arranging the piece than perfectly symmetrical objects. The design is much more interesting and appears more dynamic, attention-getting, and inviting.

While the human eye is most comfortable with a balanced composition, designers need to achieve that balance through visual contrasts that add up to what, in effect, is a planned, "balanced imbalance" using a combination of visual weight of design elements and negative space.

Using this type of balance can result in more subtle and imaginative arrangements. Informal balance is used when the designer wishes to provide activity, excitement, and variety.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 visually.

For a closer view of any of the following designs just click on the designer's name and you will be taken to their site where you can also check out some of their other creative designs for inspiration.

Pearl Bracelet
by Jennifer Lownie.
Two strands of sterling silver chain with white freshwater cultured pearl drops are joined with baroque white biwa pearls creating a delightful asymmetrical design. Dangles of swarovski crystal, fire-polished czech glass hearts, and crystal quartz are scattered amongst the pearls adding sparkle and movement to this beautiful bracelet.

In this asymmetrical design "Nouveau Romance" Jeanne Holland has used antique brass chains and a large filigree ring to counter balance the beads used on the other side of the focal pendant. Although this is a simple design there is still a lot of text by using chains and the filigree components. The strand of green freshwater pearls help to add movement and draw your attention to the beautiful blue and yellow lampwork bead then guiding your eyes down to the sparkling crystal pendant. Vintaj Natural Brass Co. has an amazing collection of antique brass findings, chains and components. "Inspiration in every finding." Exclusively wholesale Jewelry Findings.

This designer necklace is another wonderful example of informal balance. Within the megamix of shape and texture are silver dragonflies fluttering about with a color pallet reminiscent of an early autumn morning. The clasp in the front close to the center focal bead helps to give visual balance in this lovely asymmetrical design.

Discordant or Off-Balance:

Sometimes the purpose of the design makes an off-balance or discordant design work well. Designs that are off-balance suggest motion and action. If the content of your design is also intended to be totally unique or make people think, a discordantly balanced design can work well.

For a closer view of any of the following design balance just click on the designer's name and you will be taken to their site where you can also check out some of their other creative designs for inspiration.

This polymer clay necklace title "Springtime" by
Christi Friesen is a fun and wonderful example of a discordant or off-balance design. The curly vines of seed beads add movement allowing your eyes to flow and dance around the whole necklace. The exquisite polymer clay focal feature adds texture and interest.

A stunning combination of pearl and champagne seed beads in a floral design asymmetrical off-balance with an adjustable button closure. Very glamorous with lots of texture and sparkle. Design by Carolyn Foster.

The multitude of dangles in this discordant design adds texture and movement. The various shaped beads dangling adds interest giving the design movement.

Radial Balance

In Radial design balance occurs when 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.

Related Articles:

For more Principles of Design see: Emphasis, Rhythm, Movement, Contrast, Harmony, Variety.

For more Elements of Design see: Line, Shape, Space, Texture, Color.

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