Anna Hergert, Art & Design

Design Decyphered: Principles of Design I – Harmony, Balance and Contrast

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Sunday I signed off with: The relationship between the basic elements of design is the way in which they affect each other. The interaction creates the principles of design; harmony, balance,contrast, rhythm, proportion, and movement.Let’s begin today with focusing on the key principles of harmony, balance and contrast.

Harmony is the pleasing result of relationships between the elements and principles of design. It is the visually satisfying effect of combining similar or related elements, such as analogous color schemes, similar shapes and / or related textures.

In painting or design harmony helps bring about unity. However, it is important to remember that all harmony and no contrast can become monotonous, predictable and in one word… boring! Ultimately, the goal must be to strike a balance between areas of harmony and areas of contrast.

Striking a balance essentially leads to the successful arrangement of elements producing a state of equilibrium or calmness in a composition. For example: To  achieve this one may keep the area of contrast smaller than the harmonious area you wish to relieve. Understatement is usually better – sometimes just a tiny contrasting mark is all that is needed! A limited palette will keep a tight color harmony. Tonal contrast then becomes the main tool for emphasizing a focal point. Now imagine an achromatic composition, such as a winter landscape (entirely black, white and grey) with a splash of color: red berries hiding in a bush covered with snow! When reviewing the principles of harmony and contrast  seem completely contradictory. It is the balance between these two that is vital to the success of any work of art.

Contrast essentially refers to the part of a design, pattern or shape which is different from its surroundings in terms of color, tone, texture, shape, size, etc. The eye regards a contrast as a focal point.

Check back on Thursday when I conclude the design series by covering rhythm, proportion and movement.

This entry was published on October 30, 2012 at 6:21 am. It’s filed under Art, Creativity Update, Design, Studio / Workshop / Creative Space Challenge and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “Design Decyphered: Principles of Design I – Harmony, Balance and Contrast

  1. Alexis Bradley on said:

    i love this

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: A Thought About Evergreen Content | Anna Hergert, Art & Design

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