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Basic Design Principles, as Told by Nature

When you see a design you like, have you ever broke it down as to why it is visually appealing? There are many ways to create a visually stunning piece of design, but fostering an eye for visual art begins with these basic design principles. Learn about each basic design principle, using visual examples from nature.


basic design principles

Alignment brings a sharper element to the organization of your design. Aligning objects with one another fosters visual connection for the viewer. It brings structure and tightens the overall look of text and images. Even if the design elements are not close together in the design, there is still an invisible bond at play.


basic design principles

Association and consistency of a design is created by repetition. Especially in multiple page documents or websites, the repetition of an element, such as typefaces, color, images, or shapes, helps tie everything together.


basic design principles

Contrast can highlight key elements within a design by creating emphasis. It exists when two corresponding elements are complete opposites. Although contrast is generally associated with color, it can also be achieved with other design elements, such as fonts, shapes, and lines. Contrast is another key component to the organization of a design because it guides the viewer’s eye from what you want to showcase first to last.

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basic design principles

Another organizational principle, proximity is characterized by grouping related elements closely together. This fosters a relationship between the elements your choose. Similar to contrast, it gives a focal point that provides the reader an idea of where to start and finish reading. However, proximity is not solely physical; it can also mean that certain elements just have a connection in some way, be it point size, color, typeface, etc.


basic design principles

Balance is crucial in providing a sense of structure and stability to your design. All of the elements to need to be the same size; rather the importance is held placement of each element to create an even weight distribution. For example, one large element on one side with multiple small elements on the other side can provide the same level of balance as two same-sized objects. This is dependent on asymmetrical or symmetrical balance. Asymmetrical balance occurs when contrast is used to create an even amount of dark and light. Meanwhile, symmetrical balance takes place when the weight of all of the elements is even on both halves of your design.


basic design principles

The aspects you leave blank are just as important as the parts you fill with colors, images, and text. Negative space is very important in the cohesion of a design by creating an overall shape. It can also highlight crucial pieces of information or a key image. Do not underestimate the power of simplicity in design.

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