about The author Steven Bradley is the author of style Fundamentals: Elements, Attributes, & Principles and also CSS Animations and also Transitions for the modern-day Web. As soon as not … more about Steven Bradley↬

rapid summary↬ A balanced composition feeling right. It feels stable and also aesthetically pleasing. Balancing a composition involves arranging both positive aspects and an unfavorable space in such a method that nobody area that the design overpowers other areas. Every little thing works together and also fits with each other in a seamless whole. The separation, personal, instance parts add to your sum yet don’t shot to become the sum.

A balanced composition feels right. The feels stable and also aesthetically pleasing. While few of its aspects might be focal points and also attract your eye, no one area that the ingredient draws your eye so much that you can’t see the other areas.

You are watching: ________ balance is achieved when both sides of a composition look exactly the same.

Balancing a composition entails arranging both positive elements and an unfavorable space in together a means that nobody area the the architecture overpowers various other areas. Whatever works together and also fits with each other in a smooth whole. The individual parts add to your sum yet don’t try to become the sum.

An unbalanced composition have the right to lead come tension. When a style is unbalanced, the individual facets dominate the whole and the ingredient becomes much less than the sum of the parts. In part projects, unbalanced might be best for the post you’re trying to communicate, however generally you want well balanced compositions.

Note: This is the seventh and also final short article in a series on style principles. Girlfriend can discover the first six short articles here:

Happiness is no a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.– thomas Merton

Physical and also Visual Balance

Balance is basic to know in the physics world, because we endure it every the time. As soon as something is unbalanced, it has tendency to fall over. You’ve most likely been ~ above a seesaw or a teeter-totter at some time in your life — you on one side and also a friend on the other.

Assuming you were both around the very same size, you to be able to conveniently balance on the seesaw. The adhering to image shows up to be in balance, with two same sized human being equally remote from the fulcrum on which the seesaw balances.

Symmetrically well balanced seesaw.

The human on the left makes the seesaw turn counterclockwise, and also the human being on the right provides it revolve clockwise through an same amount. The pressure of each person acts in a various direction, and their amount is zero.

If among the human being was much bigger, though, the balance would be thrown off.

Unbalanced seesaw.

This image doesn’t feeling right due to the fact that we know the person on the left isn’t huge enough come balance the human being on the right. The clockwise force should be much greater, and also the seesaw must be touching the floor on the right.

However, if the larger person slid in towards the center, then the seesaw would be well balanced again.

Asymmetrically balanced seesaw.

Here, the force of the larger person is lessened by being closer come the fulcrum on i m sorry the seesaw balances. I’ll to trust you’ve to be on a seesaw before or at the very least watched rather play ~ above one and also that you have actually a pretty good sense of what’s going on.

Visual balance is similar. Physical weight is changed by intuitive weight. The direction in i m sorry the physical load acts is replaced by visual direction.

As a reminder, listed below are interpretations for visual weight and visual direction, although ok refer you ago to the fourth short article in this collection for much more details.

visual weight. This is the viewed weight that a visual element. The a measure of exactly how much noþeles on the page attracts the eye that the viewer.visual direction. This is the regarded direction that a visual force. The the direction in which we think an facet should be moving if it were given a possibility to relocate according come the forces acting ~ above it.

You don’t use instruments to measure the forces. Girlfriend don’t use formulas to calculation whether everything is in balance. Rather, you usage your eye to determine whether a composition is balanced.

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Why visual Balance Is Important

Just together in the physical world, intuitive balance is a great thing. It’s preferable in and also of itself. An unbalanced composition have the right to feel uncomfortable because that the viewer. Look ago at the 2nd of the 3 seesaw photos — that looks wrong because we can tell the the seesaw do not do it be in balance.

Visual load is a measure of the visual interest of an facet or area in a design. As soon as a composition is visually balanced, every part of the holds some interest. The visual attention is balanced, which keeps viewers involved with the design.

Without intuitive balance, viewers might not see all areas of the design. They most likely won’t spend any type of time in areas with less visual weight or interest. Any information in those areas could conveniently go unnoticed.

You would certainly balance a architecture visually because you desire to balance the points of attention in your composition, so that viewers spend time with every one of the details you desire to convey.

Four varieties Of Balance

There’s much more than one way to balance a composition. The images in the vault section show two of them. The very first image is an example of symmetry balance, and also the 2nd is an instance of asymmetrical balance. Two other types of balance room radial and also mosaic.

Symmetrical balance.

Symmetrical balance occurs when equal weights space on equal sides the a composition, balanced roughly a fulcrum or axis in the center. Symmetrical balance evokes feel of formality (it’s sometimes called formal balance) and elegance. A wedding invite is a an excellent example of a composition that you’d most likely want to it is in symmetrically balanced.

The fence of symmetrical balance is that it’s static and also sometimes pertained to as boring. Because half of the composition winter the other half, at least fifty percent of the composition will be quite predictable.

Asymmetrical balance.

Asymmetrical balance results from uneven visual load on every side the the composition. One next of the composition could contain a leading element, which might be balanced by a couple or an ext lesser focal points on the other side. One visually heavy element on one side can be well balanced by a grasp of lighter aspects on the other.

Asymmetrical balance is much more dynamic and interesting. The evokes feeling of modernism, movement, energy and vitality. Asymmetrical balance offers much more visual variety, although it can be more daunting to accomplish because the relationship between elements are an ext complex.

Radial balance.

Radial balance occurs when aspects radiate indigenous a usual center. Beam of sunlight and also ripples in a pond ~ a rock is tossed in are examples of radial balance. Keeping a focal allude (fulcrum) is easy because it’s constantly the center.

Because every little thing radiates from a common center, everything also leads to the center, making it a solid point of attraction.

Mosaic balance.

Mosaic balance (or crystallographic balance) outcomes from well balanced chaos. Think Jackson Pollack paintings. The composition lacks distinct focal points, and also the facets share a uniform emphasis. The absence of power structure leads to intuitive noise at very first glance. Somehow, though, that all works together.

Symmetry and also Asymmetry

Both symmetry and also asymmetry deserve to be provided throughout a composition, live independence of, however while contributing to, the final balance. You have the right to have symmetrical forms in one asymmetrically balanced composition and also vice versa.

Symmetry is usually viewed as beautiful and also harmonized; however, that can also be viewed as static and also dull. Asymmetry tends to be an ext interesting and also dynamic, regardless of not being pertained to as fundamentally beautiful.


There are three primary varieties of symmetry.

Reflection symmetry (or bilateral symmetry) wake up when everything is mirrored around a main axis. It’s more than likely the an initial thing friend think of when you hear the word “symmetry.” The axis deserve to be in any direction or orientation, back it’s often vertical or horizontal.

Everything on one side of the axis is copy on the various other side. Natural creates that prosper or move throughout earth’s surface construct reflection symmetry. A person face and also a butterfly space examples.

When the have fun is a perfect mirror image, the the contrary is claimed to it is in pure. Much of the time it i will not ~ be perfect and also each next will have actually slight variations. This is close to symmetry, and it’s more common than pure symmetry.

The symmetry can also occur over multiple axes at the exact same time. Because that example, the left and also right fifty percent of a composition might mirror each other, when the top and bottom additionally mirror each other. Snowflakes display reflection the contrary over much more than two axes.

Rotational symmetry (or radial symmetry) occurs when whatever rotates roughly a common center. That can occur at any type of angle or frequency, as long as there’s a common center. Natural develops that flourish or move perpendicular to the earth surface develop rotational symmetry. The petals that a sunflower room an example. Rotation without reflection have the right to be supplied to present motion, speed or dynamic action. Think the the spinning wheels of a moving car.

Translational symmetry (or crystallographic symmetry) occurs when facets are recurring over various locations in space. Repeating fence short articles are an example. The repetition create translation symmetry. That can occur in any kind of direction or at any kind of distance, as long as the basic orientation is the same. Natural forms develop translational symmetry v reproduction. Friend can develop rhythm, motion, speed and dynamic action through translate in symmetry.

The butterfly is an instance of enjoy symmetry, the fence short articles show translation symmetry, and also the sunflower is an instance of radial symmetry.

Symmetrical forms are typically seen as the figure, as opposed come the ground. A symmetrical form will carry much more weight than a likewise sized and shaped asymmetrical form.

Symmetrical forms convey balance in and of themselves, however they could show up too stable and too balanced, resulting in a absence of interest. Symmetrical forms also lead come passive space because the negative space is same all about the form.


Asymmetrical creates lack the balance of symmetry forms, back you deserve to asymmetrically balance an entire composition. Asymmetry is rather usual in natural forms: you’re more than likely right- or left-handed; fiddler crabs have different sized claws; tree branches thrive in different directions; clouds have actually random shapes.

Asymmetry creates more complicated relationships between elements, and also so it tends to be more interesting than symmetry. Since it’s much more interesting, asymmetry have the right to be provided to attract attention.

Space roughly asymmetrical forms is more active. Unpredictable patterns room created, and also overall friend have more freedom that expression with asymmetry than through symmetry. The tradeoff is that it’s harder to achieve.

Much in the same method that similarity and contrast work-related together, girlfriend can integrate symmetry and asymmetry to great effect. Balance symmetrical develops in an asymmetrical way, or balance asymmetrical develops symmetrically. Rest up symmetrical develops with a random mark to include interest. Contrast symmetry and asymmetry in her composition to make aspects get more attention.

Gestalt Principles

Throughout this collection I’ve make the efforts to allude out how many design principles arise indigenous gestalt principles. I also hope that as you’ve complied with along you’ve seen how different architecture principles develop on each other.

One of the gestalt values specifically addresses symmetry and also order and also certainly applies to compositional balance. The hardly the just principle the applies, though.

The simplicity that symmetrical creates is guess by the legislation of Prägnanz. Gestalt values such as focal points and also similarity add to intuitive weight. Principles such as continuation, common fate and also parallelism impart intuitive direction. I likewise mentioned the symmetrical creates are an ext likely to be viewed as number rather 보다 ground.

I hope this idea that the values of gestalt command to plenty of of the style principles that overview us has become clearer as you’ve review through this series. The style principles we follow no arise out of slim air; they emerged from the psychology of the method we perceive our intuitive environment.


It’s time because that screenshots. I have actually a few more websites 보다 usual for this last write-up in the series, and I’ve group them follow to the four species of balance.

As i’ve reiterated throughout the series, what complies with is my opinion. This is how I watch the balance in this designs. You might see it differently, i m sorry is fine. Reasoning critically around the designs is much more important 보다 our agreeing around what we think.

Examples of symmetry Balance

The architecture of Helen & Hard’s whole website is symmetrically balanced. The screenshot here is from the “About” page, but the various other pages of the website are similarly balanced.

Screenshot the Helen & Hard’s “About” page. (View big version)

Everything reflects approximately a upright axis under the facility of the page. The logo is centered, the navigation bar is centered, the circular images are centered, the heading is centered, and also the three columns that text are centered.

The balance isn’t perfectly symmetrically. The columns have actually different amounts of text, for example.

However, notification the height of the page. Both the logo and navigation bar room centered, however they don’t show up to be visually centered. Mine eye wants the logo design to be focused on the ampersand, or at least closer come it. The three menu items on the appropriate side the the navigating bar have more letters than those ~ above the left. Mine eye wants them to it is in the same and wants the facility to be in in between the “About” and also “People” links.

I think relocating these two aspects out of facility to make them look prefer they’re visually centered would balance the composition a small better.

The residence page that Tilde is another design that’s symmetrically balanced. Prefer Helen & Hard, everything here revolves around a vertical axis running under the facility of the page: the navigation, the text, the people in the image. That the same as girlfriend scroll under the page.

Screenshot that Tilde’s home page. (View big version)

As v Helen & Hard, the symmetry isn’t pure. Focused lines of text aren’t winter images, for one thing. Also, a couple of aspects are off: the “Meet the Team” arrowhead pointing right and the text at the bottom the the page finishing in one more arrow pointing right.

Both space calls to action and both rest the symmetry, calling extra fist to themselves. Notification how both arrows usage colors that contrast with their background, additional increasing the attraction of these elements.

Examples of Asymmetrical Balance

The residence page the Carrie Voldengen’s portfolio exhibits an overall asymmetrical balance around a dominant symmetrical form. Looking in ~ the in its entirety composition, ns see number of discrete shapes.

Screenshot the Carrie Voldengen’s website. (View huge version)

The massive of the web page is a big rectangle that’s created of a net of smaller rectangular images. On its own, this network is symmetrical approximately both the vertical and horizontal axes. That feels very strong and stable. Top top its own, it’s really balanced and also looks prefer it’s not going anywhere.

To the right, a block of text pulls under on the shape. It’s counterbalanced through text and the circular logo design in the upper left. Both administer a relatively equal amount of intuitive weight acting on the network in opposite directions.

The street to an imagined fulcrum is about the exact same as the weights. The message on the best is larger and also darker overall, however the blue circular logo gives more weight come its general area. The circle also connects come the top-left corner of the grid with a solitary color.

The text listed below the grid seems to cave from it, and it’s light sufficient on its own not to throw the composition the end of balance.

Notice the the an are also feeling balanced. The locations down the left, follow me the peak right and down the right, including a bit of the bottom right, all balance every other. The area ~ above the left is larger than the area top top the right, yet the right has actually additional room on the top and also bottom.

The photos at the optimal of Hirondelle USA’s residence page rotate. I got a screenshot the this one especially to talk about the asymmetrical balance established at the optimal of the page.

Screenshot the Hirondelle USA. (View huge version)

The shaft in the image is slightly off center, and it anchors the composition with a strong vertical heat — it’s an object we know weighs a lot. The railing on the left provides a strong connection through the left sheet of the screen. It, too, feels anchored. It’s hard to imagine any type of design aspect on the page throwing either out of balance.

The text over the railing feels sustained by the railing; however, it’s likewise visually well balanced by the picture of the young on the right. You could view the railing together hanging off the left next of the pole, pulling it out of balance, but I think the intrinsic interest of the boy as well as the darker values in the lift behind the counterbalance both the rail and the message on the left and also keep things in balance.

There’s a sense of translation symmetry as the yellow lines of text repeat in the top left and also lower right of the image, and also in the switch further under the page. The white text is repeated as well.

Examples that Radial Balance

The residence page that Vlog.it exhibits radial balance, which ns hope is clear from the screenshot. Other than the shape in the top-right corner, every little thing revolves about the facility of the page, as the three rings of pictures rotate about the center circle.

Screenshot that Vlog.it. (View large version)

What you can’t check out in the screenshot is exactly how the web page loads. A heat is drawn from the lower-left edge to the center of the page. Indigenous that suggest on, just about everything that appears on the web page does therefore by revolving around the facility or radiating from it, prefer ripples in a pond.

The smaller sized circle in the upper right adds a tiny translation symmetry and some asymmetry, increasing visual attention in the composition.

Opera’s shining Demos residence page no circular, yet the text web links all seem come emanate native a common or near typical center. It’s basic to imagine the totality shape spinning approximately one of the squares in the middle or maybe one of the corners where four squares meet.

Screenshot the Opera’s shining Demos. (View large version)

The glowing Demos heading in the upper left and also the Opera logo in the reduced right counterbalance each various other and also appear to radiate from the same facility as the message links.

It’s a an excellent example of just how radial balance no necessarily need the usage of circles.

Examples that Mosaic Balance

You can expect mosaic balance to be the the very least used online, especially after I offered Jackson Pollack paints as an example of mosaic balance. Many more examples room online than you can realize.

The home page the Rabbit’s story was a great example. There was definitely a random and chaotic feel through the letter strewn about, however the balance in the composition works.

Screenshot the Rabbit’s Tale. (View big version)

There room close to equal areas of color and space on both political parties (right and left) to balance every other. The hare in the middle even serves together a fulcrum. That might also stand out a tiny after you’ve viewed it, but all at once the elements don’t speak to attention to themselves individually.

I’m no going to try to figure out which aspects counterbalance each other, one element at a time, yet hopefully you agree that there’s an in its entirety balance. If anything, the chaos is weightier top top the right, but not to the suggest of throwing turn off the balance.

Content-heavy web page such as news and also magazine websites exhibition mosaic balance together well. You could recognize the house page the The Onion. In the screenshot, I’ve removed the background photo behind the top of the page.

Screenshot the The Onion. (View large version)

There’s a lot to look at. The layout no symmetrical. The columns aren’t same in size. It’s difficult to identify what counterbalances what. The block of content have actually different quantities of contents inside and, consequently, are different sizes. Nothing radiates indigenous a common center.

There’s a little of chaos and randomness in the different-sized blocks, part denser 보다 others. Since the stories on the website readjust daily, a different chaos will appear each day. Overall, it works.

Perhaps the a stretch come say that it’s a mosaic balance, yet again I would certainly argue that it is and also that many websites exhibition this type of chaotic balance, although something tells me that lot of the chaos we watch online wasn’t planned.


It’s taken a if to acquire here, but that concludes our series on design principles. Ns hope you’ve delighted in it, learned something new or found the collection to be a good review of an essential design principles.

As you have the right to guess, i think the fundamentals room important. I began this collection to show how every one of these ethics arise out of human being perception and gestalt theory. Ns didn’t do them up. The values are based on how we all perceive and also interpret our intuitive environment.

For example, one factor we notification focal point out is because they comparison with the elements about them. They was standing out as different. That’s necessary when you need to easily determine friend from foe. That capability was vital for our survival together a species, and so our eyes arisen to make the decision quickly.

However, design principles aren’t hard and fast rules. Castle guidelines. There’s no one right method to connect that two aspects are comparable or different, for example. Girlfriend don’t must follow any kind of of these principles, although girlfriend should recognize them and also have a factor for breaking them.

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Again, i hope you’ve delighted in this series, and I expect even much more that miscellaneous in the series has given you an ext control over the visual interaction in your designs.