Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Balancing Act of your Layout

Creating a Scrapbook layout with a creative balance.  Do you sit and look at your layouts and think something is off? Can’t quite figure it out?  Maybe it’s lopsided ;) meaning it’s out of balance. One of the keys to a great layout is “Balance”; the balance contributes to the harmony of the overall design.  Our eyes naturally are pleased with balance.

To achieve balance there are some key things to consider, which I will be talk about to help you achieve it. You need an equal distribution of “visual weight” in your layout, whether it’s a one page or double page layout. The best way to see if your layout is equally spread out is to mentally split the layout in half whether it is horizontally or vertically.  Though, we do tend to like to see “bottom” half heavier than “top” half, but in a layout its ok if the top half is heavier, so long as you achieved “balance”. The different elements on the page have their own “visual weight”, so they don’t have to be the same elements. So, basically they don’t have to be for example, 3 buttons on both sides.  It can be 3 buttons and another embellishment for example a slide mount, that is equal in “visual weight” Embellishments “weigh” more or less depending on their size, shape, color, texture and/or placement.  For example a small floral print is “lighter” than a big floral print.  Another example a black & white print is “heavier” than a multi color busy print, because of the contrast.

There are 3 types of ways to achieve “balance”. The three types of “balance” are asymmetrical, radial and symmetrical. 

Asymmetrical is probably the most complex one. Asymmetrical Balance is created on both sides of a “central axis” by giving equal visual weight to dissimilar objects.  To obtain this type of balance several techniques are usually used together in some way using color, shape, and position.  By color, you want small areas of bright or light color balance on a larger area of dark or dull colors.  Color is useful in allowing for a great difference in shapes that still balance because of the color applied to them. By shape, the more intricate shapes have more visual weight than a larger simpler shape.   By position, if you place a larger item closer to the center you can balance with smaller elements placed toward the outer edges.  You also need to consider the texture and value of the elements when looking at the color, shape and position. An element with more contrast is going to be “heavier” visually because our eyes are naturally attracted to this.  Paper with a light and dark variation is more visually appealing than say a plain non textured cardstock. 

When choosing to use asymmetrical think if the “mood” of your layout falls in one of these; casual, energetic, having variety, natural, playful, spontaneous, or subtle. These “moods work best for this type of layout.

Radical Balance is a layout in which elements radiate or circle out from a common point. Depending on where you have your focus radial balance can be either Asymmetrical or symmetrical.  This type of “balance” works great for an organized layout which expresses energy but in an understated way.

Symmetrical Balance is like elements repeated in the same spot on either side of a central axis.  This type of “balance is more like a mirror image. The elements on either side can vary slightly without changing the symmetry.   There are 2 types of symmetrical balance which are bilateral balance and crystallographic balance.  Bilateral Balance is created by a mirror of the layout on each side of the center axis.  Crystallographic balance is the elements all over the layout have equal “visual weight” creating a larger pattern without a center point.  Either of these balances in a symmetrical layout creates a straightforward look of equalization.

With time and practice, you’ll be visually seeing the “balance” in your layouts and things will just start flowing a lot easier.

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