Achieving Visual Design Balance: A Guide
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 11 min read


  1. What is visual design balance?
  2. Symmetrical balance in design
  3. Asymmetrical balance in design
  4. Radial balance in design
  5. Color and balance
  6. Texture and balance
  7. Scale, proportion, and balance
  8. Space and balance
  9. How to achieve visual balance
  10. Examples of visual design balance

Visual design is like a dance; all elements must move in harmony to create a beautiful composition. And just like in dance, balance is key. Mastering the art of composition involves learning techniques for balancing elements in visual design. It's like juggling—you need to keep all the balls in the air, but they also need to be in the right proportion and place. It's not just about making something look good—it's about creating a visual experience that feels right. So, let's explore the concept of visual design balance and how to achieve it.

What is visual design balance?

Visual design balance is a fundamental principle that determines how elements in a design relate to each other. This relationship creates a sense of order, harmony, and cohesion, making the design pleasing to the eye. When you master the art of composition, you'll find that balance is like the invisible glue that holds a design together.

Let's break this down a bit:

  • Elements: These are the parts of a design, such as lines, shapes, colors, and textures. In a website, for example, elements could be buttons, text, images, or icons.
  • Balance: This isn't about making everything equal or symmetrical. Instead, it's about creating a sense of stability and proportion. Even in asymmetrical designs, balance is still key.
  • Harmony: When elements in a design feel like they belong together, that's harmony. It's like a well-rehearsed choir—different voices, but one sound.
  • Cohesion: This is the feeling that everything in a design is interconnected and unified. It's the visual equivalent of a well-written paragraph—each sentence connects to the next, creating a cohesive whole.

Mastering the art of composition: techniques for balancing elements in visual design is a bit like cooking. You need the right ingredients (elements), mixed in the right proportions (balance), to create a dish that tastes great (harmony) and looks appetizing (cohesion).

Now that we've got the basics covered, let's dive into the different types of balance and how to use color, texture, scale, proportion, and space to create visually balanced designs.

Symmetrical balance in design

When you think of balance, the first thing that probably comes to mind is symmetry, right? Symmetrical balance is one of the primary techniques for mastering the art of composition. It's all about mirroring elements on both sides of a central axis.

Picture a seesaw in perfect balance, with two identical weights on each end—that's essentially what symmetrical balance looks like in visual design. It gives a design an orderly, stable, and formal feel. Think of the front facade of a historic building, where every window, column, and architectural detail on the left matches those on the right.

Here's how you can achieve symmetrical balance in your designs:

  1. Identify the central axis: This could be a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal line cutting your design in half.
  2. Mirror elements: Whatever you place on one side of the axis, mirror it on the other side. This could be shapes, colors, lines, or any other design elements.
  3. Check your balance: Step back and squint at your design. Does it feel balanced? If not, you may need to adjust the size, position, or color of your elements.

Bear in mind, though, that too much symmetry can feel rigid and boring. It's like eating the same meal every day—you might like it initially, but over time, it could become monotonous. So, mix things up a bit! Add a touch of asymmetry or play around with other principles of design to keep things interesting.

Symmetrical balance is a powerful tool in visual design, but it's not the only way to create balance. As you continue mastering the art of composition, you'll also learn about asymmetrical and radial balance, which we'll explore in the following sections.

Asymmetrical balance in design

Let's switch gears and talk about asymmetrical balance in design. Unlike symmetrical balance, this technique is all about balancing different elements that have equal visual weight. In other words, the left and right sides of your design don't mirror each other, but they still feel balanced. It's like a seesaw with a heavy weight on one end and several lighter weights on the other that collectively match the heavy weight's pull.

Asymmetrical balance can give your design a dynamic, interesting, and informal feel. It's like a surprise party—unpredictable yet balanced in its own unique way. Here's how you can incorporate asymmetrical balance into your design:

  1. Play with visual weight: Big, dark, complex, or high contrast elements carry more visual weight. You can balance them with several smaller, lighter, simpler, or low contrast elements.
  2. Use negative space: Empty space in a design can also carry visual weight. You can use it to balance other elements in your design.
  3. Trust your gut: Asymmetrical balance can be tricky since it's not as formulaic as symmetrical balance. So, trust your gut. If your design feels balanced, then it probably is.

Asymmetrical balance can be a fun and exciting way to master the art of composition. But remember, balance is key. A design with too much asymmetry can feel chaotic, just like a surprise party that's spiraled out of control. So, keep those elements in check!

Next up, let's dive into another composition technique to balance elements in visual design: radial balance.

Radial balance in design

Are you ready to take a spin on the design wheel? Because that's what radial balance is all about. In this type of balance, elements radiate from a central point, much like the spokes on a bicycle wheel or the petals on a sunflower. It's everywhere in nature, and it's a great way to bring a sense of harmony and unity to your design.

Designing with radial balance can feel like a fun game of darts. You're aiming for the bullseye, placing elements around the center in a way that feels balanced. Here's how you can hit the bullseye with radial balance:

  1. Find your center: The central point is the heart of your radial balance. It's where all your elements will radiate from, so make sure it's clearly defined.
  2. Spread out evenly: Distribute your elements evenly around the central point. This doesn't mean they all have to be the same size or shape, but they should feel balanced.
  3. Keep it circular: Try to keep your overall shape circular to maintain that sense of unity and harmony.

Radial balance can be a powerful tool in mastering the art of composition, creating designs that draw the viewer's eye to the center. But don't get too dizzy with all those circles—balance is still key. A design with too much radial balance can feel overwhelming, like being stuck in a never-ending merry-go-round.

So, spin the wheel, aim for the bullseye, and see where radial balance can take your designs!

Next up, we'll explore how color plays a role in balancing elements in visual design.

Color and balance

Ever wondered why a sunset or a rainbow can be so captivating? It's all about color balance! Color can be a powerful ally in your quest to master the art of composition: techniques for balancing elements in visual design. Just like a chef uses different ingredients to create a balanced dish, a designer uses different colors to create a balanced design.

Color balance doesn't mean using every color in the rainbow, though. It's about using color strategically to create harmony and contrast. Here's how you can paint your way to a balanced design:

  1. Choose your palette: Start by picking a color scheme. This could be complementary colors, analogous colors, or monochromatic shades of a single color. Your choice will set the mood for your design.
  2. Use color weights: Not all colors are created equal. Some colors, like red and yellow, are heavier and attract more attention. Others, like blue and green, are lighter and tend to fade into the background. Use these weights to balance your design.
  3. Apply color sparingly: Color can be like seasoning. Too much and it overwhelms the senses, too little and it's bland. Use color sparingly to highlight important elements without overpowering the design.

Color balance is a bit like a seesaw. On one side, you've got your heavy, attention-grabbing colors. On the other side, you've got your lighter, more subtle shades. Your job as a designer is to keep that seesaw balanced, creating a design that is harmonious yet engaging.

So, grab your paintbrush (or mouse) and start experimenting with color balance. It's a colorful way to master the art of composition!

Next, we're going to delve into how texture can add another layer of balance to your designs.

Texture and balance

Ever run your fingers over a brick wall, or a plush carpet? Yes, that's texture for you. Just as it is in the physical world, texture in visual design adds depth and dimension. It's a little less talked about, but it's an integral part of mastering the art of composition: techniques for balancing elements in visual design.

Texture can be like the salt and pepper in a dish. It may not be the main ingredient, but it can enhance or mute other elements, adding balance. Here are some ways to incorporate texture into your designs:

  1. Use texture to create emphasis: A textured element can stand out against flat elements, drawing the eye. Think of it as a way to add weight to a particular part of your design.
  2. Combine textures for contrast: Just like colors, different textures can play off each other. A rough texture next to a smooth one can create an interesting visual contrast, helping to balance the design.
  3. Consider the impact of texture: Textures can evoke different feelings. For example, a smooth, glossy texture might feel modern and sleek, while a rough, grainy texture might feel more organic and rustic. Use textures that support the message and mood of your design.

Remember, mastering the art of composition is like conducting an orchestra — every element, from color to texture, plays a part. It's up to you to ensure all the elements work together in harmony, creating a visually balanced and engaging design.

Next on our journey to visual balance? We're going to explore how scale and proportion play a role in creating a design that's just right.

Scale, proportion, and balance

Let's imagine you're making a sandwich. You wouldn't pile on a mountain of lettuce and a sliver of tomato, right? It's the same with visual design. Scale and proportion are about the size of elements in relation to each other, and they're key to mastering the art of composition: techniques for balancing elements in visual design.

Scale refers to the size of an object compared to another object. On the other hand, proportion is about the relationship between the parts of a whole. Here's how you can use these two to balance your designs:

  1. Use scale to create a focal point: Want to draw attention to a particular part of your design? Make it bigger! The larger scale will naturally attract the eye.
  2. Balance with proportion: Proportion helps to create a sense of order and harmony. Think of it as the "Golden Ratio" of design. Elements that are proportionally balanced are pleasing to the eye.
  3. Play with scale and proportion: Of course, rules are meant to be broken. Sometimes, you can create interesting, dynamic designs by playing with scale and proportion in unexpected ways. Just remember, the goal is balance, not chaos.

Mastering the art of composition and creating a balanced design can feel like a puzzle. But with each piece — color, texture, scale, and proportion — you're one step closer to a harmonious design that tells your story just the way you want it to.

Ready to explore another piece of the puzzle? Let's move on to the role of space in achieving visual design balance.

Space and balance

Space might seem like an odd player in the game of visual design balance. After all, it's nothing, right? Actually, it's a whole lot of something! When mastering the art of composition, space becomes one of your most powerful tools.

Picture this: You're in a crowded room, and it's hard to hear your friend talking. But once you step into a quiet corner, their words become clear. That's what space does in design—it gives your elements room to breathe and allows your message to come through loud and clear.

  1. Positive and Negative Space: Positive space refers to the main focus of a picture, while negative space refers to the background. Balancing these spaces can create a sense of equilibrium in your design.
  2. Whitespace: This doesn't necessarily mean the space must be white. It's simply unmarked space in a design, like the margins in a book. Whitespace can give a design a sophisticated, clean look and help guide the viewer's eye.
  3. Active and Passive Space: Active space is filled with elements that lead the viewer's eye through the design, while passive space is less visually active. You can use these spaces to create a rhythm and balance in your composition.

Remember, space isn't just emptiness—it's an element that can shape and enhance your design. So, the next time you're working on a design project, don't forget to give your elements a little room to breathe.

Ready to dive into the final steps of mastering the art of composition: techniques for balancing elements in visual design? Let's go!

How to achieve visual balance

Alright, we've talked a lot about what visual design balance is and the different types of balance. Now, let's get into the nitty-gritty of how to actually achieve it. Here are some useful steps to guide you through the process:

  1. Start with a focal point: This is the part of your design that first catches the viewer's eye. Once you've decided on your focal point, you can arrange other elements around it to create balance.
  2. Consider the weight of your elements: Different elements carry different visual weights. For example, darker or larger elements tend to feel heavier. To achieve balance, try to distribute these weights evenly across your design.
  3. Try different types of balance: Remember symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial balance? Don't be afraid to experiment with these in your designs. You might be surprised at what works best!
  4. Use color, texture, and space strategically: These can all contribute to the balance of your design. Think about how they can enhance or detract from the overall balance and adjust accordingly.

Keep in mind that mastering the art of composition: techniques for balancing elements in visual design isn't about rigid rules. It's about using these principles as a guide and then letting your creativity flow. After all, some of the most impactful designs have come from breaking the rules!

Now that you're armed with these tips, why not give it a shot? Go ahead and start playing with balance in your designs. Who knows, you might just create your next masterpiece.

Examples of visual design balance

Let's take a look at some real-world examples to illustrate these principles in action. Remember, the goal is to master the art of composition: techniques for balancing elements in visual design. So, let's dive in!

  1. The Apple logo: This iconic design is an excellent example of symmetrical balance. The apple, with a bite taken out of it, is perfectly balanced, demonstrating how symmetry can create a sense of harmony and simplicity.
  2. Nike's "Just Do It" campaign: The asymmetrical balance in this design comes from the bold, oversized text offset by the small Nike swoosh. The visual weight of the text is balanced by the brand's logo, creating a dynamic and impactful design.
  3. The Pepsi logo: Here's an example of radial balance. The circular logo, with its swirling red, white, and blue design, draws your eye inwards. This creates a sense of movement and energy.
  4. The Instagram logo: This design uses color to achieve balance. The rainbow gradient is balanced against the simple white camera icon, demonstrating how color can be used to create visual interest and balance.

These examples show that balance isn't just about placing elements evenly on a page. It's about creating a sense of harmony and cohesion that guides the viewer's eye through the design. And remember, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. So, don't be afraid to get creative and experiment with different techniques for balancing elements in visual design. Who knows where your next design adventure will take you?

If you want to dive deeper into the world of visual design and enhance your understanding of design balance, don't miss Celina Rodriguez's workshop, 'The 7 Visual Elements Of Art'. This workshop will provide you with an in-depth exploration of the essential elements of art and equip you with the knowledge to create visually stunning and harmonious designs.