The Principles of Design
If the elements of design are the ingredients of a dish, the principles act as the recipe. The elements are solitary and distinct on their own, and they can only begin to impact viewers once they have been combined in a certain way to create an aesthetically strong and visually appealing placement or systematic arrangement of the constituents of your design.
The principles can also be regarded as the tools at your disposal since they have the ability of turning a simple shape into multiple forms. These tools can help designers create a visual structure that guides the viewer in a pre-planned manner, and this is exactly why responsive web design is in high demand. If your design is created keeping all these powerful techniques and tools, it can efficiently guide the users in any way you may want.
Let us look at what principles of design are and how they can be applied to create visual effects and impressions. Though the advent of Adobe Photoshop has digitized this process to a great extent, the real thinking is done on paper, and that is where your knowledge will come in handy.
Center of Attention
When you create a design, there is always a point where all the attention is directed towards where you want the viewers to concentrate; this is your area of center of attention. When compared with the other objects that will be incorporated within your design, this area carries the most importance since it sends the biggest message. The attention can be guided towards it with the use of colors, placements of the format and different values.
This can be called the feeling of visual equilibrium in form, values, colors, shapes, and more. Balance can be achieved through symmetrical or asymmetrical compositions; even oddly balanced designs can still work. The colors you use, the placement of the objects throughout the space, and almost all the elements can be used in unison to create balance in a design. You need to take care of the visual weight of the artwork and whether the attention gets dispersed on the plane and then consumed by the viewer instead of guiding it to a specific area within the design.
Also termed as Unity by some sources, Harmony is the principle that will bring together all the elements of the design in visually similar units. This means that if you have chosen a geometrical approach for your design, you must keep it the same way till the end no matter which elements you add. And if you have taken organic shapes and lines into consideration for your artwork, you have to keep at it consistently and not break away from the rule you have established. This principle is highly subjective though, and many designers try to push the norms by adding highly contrasting elements to their designs and disturbing the Unity or Harmony that the placement has created to bring about an impact.
While the name is probably quite self-explanatory, contrast is one thing that designers can use to guide the emphasis of artwork. It comes in handy when you set out to create a visual discord that is aesthetically sound and makes the composition more dynamic. Contrast can also be used to emphasize on the difference between any two things and the strategic alignment with the subject of the design can be planned to differentiate between the importances of different objects on the picture plane.
Directional movement within the design can help you create a flow within the composition that guides the eyes of the viewers and bring them to the central idea of the design. It can visually represent a sort of suggestion of motion from one object to the next through proper placement and positioning. This can also be created with the help of varying values of the same hue which will appear as if a gradation is taking place in the value of the color being used – light to dark or dark to light.
This is the movement that implies that certain elements must be repeated within the design regularly to create a dynamic design instead of a stagnant one. When you create a visual rhythm, you are subconsciously guiding the users to take their attention sequentially from point A to point Z, depending on the importance of the object incorporated in the design.
Collectively, these principles can be applied over and over to create a new design every time, and following the implications that come along with the Elements and Principles of design strategically can help you maintain your authenticity and originality of work as a designer.