Design Skills - Resources and Training for Designers

Design Principles Guidelines
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Design principles form the structure upon which design is based. They are:

| Balance | Focal point | Lines of sight | Areas of interest | Forms | Visual scale | Patterns and texture | Lines | Colours & tones |

The psychological effects derived from the use of a combination of design principles need to be taken into consideration from the onset. These elements do not change but the combination and variations are many and varied.

To promote an innovative approach to design further points should also be considered: the direct relationship with the user, the emotional response to the design, does the concept makes a new contribution to contemporary ideas.


Balance: there are two basic type of balance, symmetrical and asymmetrical.

Symmetrical balance
This means arranging units of the same size, form and colour on either side of a central axis. One side mirrors the other. By doing this, it is possible to obtain a regular and powerful effect. However, symmetrical balance can lose its power and become monotonous if overused.
Symmetrical balance - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image

Asymmetrical balance

An unequal balance. As my teacher used to say, which is heavier, a kilo of lead or a kilo of feathers ? They are both the same weight and even though there is some balance between the two, there are much more feathers than lead. To construct an asymmetrical balance, divide the space into three equal parts and place the most important unit (the feathers) in one and the smaller unit (the lead) in the other.

Other elements can then be added as long as the original balance remains unchanged. Asymmetrical balance is often used because of its flexibility, the interest it brings and it's less obvious nature.
asymmetrical balance - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image
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Focal point

Whatever the balance, there must be a focal point. In a symmetrical balance, it should be at the centre. In an asymmetrical balance, it should be within the most important group. The focal point represents the heart of the composition. It has to attract attention and therefore should be the most important, attractive and vibrant. It is also often the most colourful part of the design.
Focal point - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image
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Lines of sight

They can be real or imaginary. They can, for example, direct the eye from the focal point to other areas of interest, to then bring the gaze onto smaller details, to finally bring it back on the focal point.
Lines of sight - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image
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Areas of interest

Also called emphasis. They are important though not as much as the focal point. The placement of areas of interest creates lines of sight.
Areas of interest - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image
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Forms

Harmony, unity or variety. The forms used should be similar with some contrast to add interest.
Forms - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image
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Visual scale

The same principle applies to variations in sizes. Think of proportions, relationships, the size of objects or graphics relative to the size of surrounding elements and the expected final result.
Visual scale - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image
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Patterns and textures

Think harmony, rhythm, contrast. Too many patterns can be messy but only one can be boring. Therefore, harmony + contrast = interest.
Patterns and textures - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image
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Lines

Think harmony, unity, variety. Parallel lines are harmonious. Lines going in many directions can appear confusing. Again, harmony + contrast = interest
Lines - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image
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Colours and tones

Think harmony, contrast, emphasis. The same principles as for forms and visual scale apply. If a more harmonious result is required, use similar colours with a little contrast for interest. Only using dark or light colours can be harmonious but can also be monotonous. Therefore, it is possible to use colours with similar tonal values with contrasting accent to create interest. Unless otherwise desired values should be balanced to keep the design coherent.
Colours and tones - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image
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Skills Design Principles

> Design Principles Guidelines > The Psychology of Forms > Graphic Composition > The Design Process > Using Colour > Using Light


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