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February 04, 2016

Creating a 'Happy' Composition

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” Thomas Merton. A balanced composition is a happy composition. (Well, most of the time…there are some exceptions to the rule. But that is not the point in the post.)

Today I want to talk about composition, weight and focal points. Weight plays a huge part in creating a focal point. Every element you add to your project has visual weight. Those elements will need to be balanced to create a ‘happy composition’. Too much weight in one area and the whole design feels ‘off’.

Weight can be difficult to explain as it is one design element that has more to do with feel than any of the other design elements. If you look at your project and it just ‘feels’ wrong…..weight and balance are the most likely suspects.

10 Tips About Weight and Composition
  • Placement matters. Any element placed in the upper left-hand corner of your project will have more weight than the bottom right-hand corner.
  • The darker the color the more weight the element has.
  • The bolder the pattern the more weight the element has.
  • Textured elements have more weight than flat elements.
  • Larger elements carry more weight than smaller items.
  • An intricate element has more weight than a simple element.
  • Generally speaking, any element that catches your eye has more weight.
  • Items grouped together will be weighed as a whole, not individual items.
  • Some characteristics carry more weight than others. Color and placement have more weight than shape and pattern.
  • The sum of these characteristics will determine the weight of the element. Meaning a red, large, patterned, textured flower will weigh more than a plain red flower…..even if they are the same size.

Below are two examples of balanced and unbalanced compositions.  The examples are simple and a bit overstated.....to make a point.

The card above has an unbalanced design.   While there are part of the design that are pleasing, the overall composition feels a bit off.  Placing all of the elements on the left hand side creates an unbalanced feeling.

On the card below I re-positioned the elements to create a more balanced composition.

Bonus: Perceived physical weight will increase visual weight. A stamped image of a house will have more visual weight than a flower, because we expect a house to weigh more.

So the next time a project just feels off….take a moment to look at the elements to make sure you have a balance composition.

Want to learn more about focal points?

Thanks for stopping by,

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