Principles of Graphic Design, and How Effectively It can be used?

In graphic design, there are principles of graphic design that can be considered. These principles are what typically separates good design from bad design. These principles all have a relationship with each other and appear in every well-designed piece of work you see. The contrast principle of design shows your work is not effortless. The key principles of design are

Principles of Graphic Design

  1. Contrast,
  2. hierarchy,
  3. alignment,
  4. balance,
  5. proximity,
  6. repetition,
  7. simplicity
  8. function.

Whatever work you produce be it for a magazine, poster, a website, or an advertisement the principles of design should be considered. A good designer will keep these principles and guidelines in their toolkit and will consciously use them to develop their ideas. In this article, I’m going to discuss contrast as a design principle in graphic design. In this video, I’ll be referring to some visual examples. If you wish to take a closer look at these so you will look at a closer look to contrast

1. What is Contrast

When two or more elements are different in the composition and the one leads to the focal point It is known that the contrast occurs. In design, contrast can be used to generate impact, create exciting, graphics, highlight the importance, and create visual interest and dynamics.

Sometimes we might think the element we use will speak about itself but the object we have used in the composition of this will tells you a lot of story about the element. Let’s Understand with the help of examples

Example

If I will place a simple circle, What do you think it communicates? It may only communicate that I am a circle, but does it communicate about their position and size?

Let me tell you, How we can suggest Its position and size. Very simple, just by creating another element. So I will put in another circle. which is a smaller circle. lets look at the orginal circle. Now It communicates I am a bigger circle. I have achied what I want the circle to communicate only by contrast.

But if I Place another circle with the same size but a different color, What it communicates about itself. Now It tells about its color or Appearance. and It will also suggest that this circle is more important part of our design. So we have created a focus on a specific about by contrast,

In the examples above we have understood how contrast creates interesting relationships between the visual elements, It can lead to a design to connect them or push them. Without contrast, you can’t create deep meaning in your design.

Contrast provokes our sense and make it easier to digest. It can help design to communicate visually. which is why it can be a strong method of visual communication without the presence of type.

Use Of Contrast

In the examples below, we will learn about, how contrast can be used in the design.

Contrast In Shapes

See the below image of two shapes. both are equal in size but different in designs. Now which shape is grab your attention? in this case it may be the shape with the more complex outline the circle with the smooth surface is so simple it makes us want to look at the other shape more because it’s more complex.

Contrast In Scale

In our next example, we can see the contrast principle of design in scale. Look at these different sizes grid of circles. and see how context is intrinsic to contrast. and you may feel how this visual element gives meaning.

Contrast In Layout

Have a quick look at the layout below and see how contrast can make or break your layout. The top composition seems well-structured which helps the viewer to go through all the information. the below layout look randomize content that will confuse the human-eye, which information should read first.

Contrast in Typography

See how contrast works on typography and it change the and feel of typography. We can use contrast in our typefaces by different methods such as alignment, fonts, type size, color, and weight can be all considered.

Let’s look at the real example of a Typography book and see how simply It has managed. and how they specified their focal point. Everyone will understand, what is the book about? and who is the book for? It has created a contrast using size.

principles of graphic design
Screenshot of google books

The main focus is on the title word, it creates its own dynamic as it crosses over from a light space into a dark space that our eye is mostly drawn too.

2. Hirarchy

The principle of graphic design is the most important aspect in order to design look and feel. There are many principles of design like contrast, hierarchy, repetition, rhythm, balance, and many more. We have covered the contrast in our previous article. In this article, We will take a look at the hierarchy as a principle of design.

Hierarchy is the power of Structured information that navigate the human eye from one point to another. It will show your design in a particular order. In design hierarchy can help you: Create a visual organization, create direction, add structure, add emphasis, and helps people to navigate and skim easily the overall information. We can achieve it by creating a contrast in the composition or structure of the design. Typically visual elements with the considerable contrast are noticed first. Using Hierarchy we can engage and keep them stay with us to ensure that information is navigated and digested in the way it is intended.

You have to navigate and manage your audience like which information you want to show them first, which will be the second and which will be the third, and so on.

Hirarchy in different Elements

Let’s dive deep into how hierarchy work can be used on elements and how it works. It’s time to have a look at the practical examples.

Hierarchy in Size

When an element is appearing larger than other elements in the composition. It can be described as a more hierarchical element. It will be a focal point from where the human eye starts navigation to other elements of design. Don’t understand! See the example below and try to understand. the terminology.

Example

Let’s have a look at the examples of Hierarchy. See the example and check out how it will move your eye from top to bottom by placing shapes that start from thick to thin. The hierarchy of scale. This example also tells the direction and the flow of importance here starts from the top and travels down from thick to thin.

Hierarchy in size

Hierarchy in shapes

When a shape is different from other composition shapes. It also creates a hierarchy. Human-eye naturally spots irregular shapes first. If there are 5 chairs is in the room with one single table. We will look at the table first and then skimming all the elements afterward.

Example

The Instagram profile page is the best example of a hierarchy in shape. The profile has differentiated from the other images. Profile pictures appear in a circle while other images are shown as a square images. This will help us to recognize easily.

instagram screenshot

Hierarchy in color

Similar to the hierarchy in shape, When the color of an object is different from other colors. It shows the hierarchy in color. Check out the example where we can see and feel it.

Example

Here we can see the grids of circles. with different colors. that navigate the human-eye throughout the important information. Here we have the important information as a red color. and the position where the red circles are placed.

3. Allignment

An Excellent approach to the design theory tells there is also a great effort behind your work. Some of the design principles are Alignment, contrast, hierarchy, repetition, balance, proximity, simplicity, and function. It is important to keep these strategies as a guideline and consciously use them to produce new and unique ideas. After reading this article, you will be well aware of “the alignment as a design principle in graphic design”.

What is Alignment?

Alignment is the placement of visual elements so they line up in composition. In design, we use alignment to organize elements, create structure, create group elements, create connections between elements, create balance, and create a sharp and clear outcome.

In this article, we will discuss the most important Alignments principles: Edge alignment and Center Alignment.

Edge Alignment

Edge alignment is aligning the content to one of the edges. It could be any edge left, right, top or bottom.

Centre alignment

As the name suggests Align to the center line is know as Centre alignment. It can be horizontal or vertical.

Why align?

Alignment is the line that is invisible due to which visual elements are aligned but it can be expressed physically. Due to alignments, we can achieve a particular appearance and feel. When working with alignments one should be conscious. Good alignment is invisible this doesn’t have to be a literal line in your design.

We should try to avoid arbitrary decisions in our design appearance. When visual elements are not aligned human-eye can notice it and can undermine the piece of work unintentionally. However If the overall design seems like part of a design it can appear more radical, dynamic, free, and playful.

In design, alignments can be simple or complex and are commonly achieved with the use of a grid. A grid can create an invisible structure. The invisible lines that visual elements can be placed on these grades can ensure accurate alignment and consistency in a large piece of design work.

Gride has now constructed in the advanced design software to guide the designer when he/she create a layout on a computer. See the examples below to show you how alignment works

Example Of Gride Alignment

We can see the layout of the three columns grid. See the structure of the below example so that you feel how the text is aligned with the grid lines and check out the title which is fit nicely into the aligned columns with the article copy below. Everything seems well-aligned and creates a good impact on the human eye.

We can say that we use alignment to organize our design. However, It is not the boundary for alignments you can also use alignments in more abstract ways to communicate visual message or to adding a playful dynamics to the layout.

Example of Verticle and Horizontal Alignment

See the example below so you can check out how the alignment can be used horizontally and vertically which adds more interest and excellent dynamics to the page. The text is aligned to the horizontally left and vertically top. The gridlines between text are the divider for text which is easy to read skimming.

Example Of Left And Right Alignment

This Example describes the composition exploring both the left and right alignment of type. The main reason which creates a dynamic look in this layout is the contrast which creates interest of viewers and dynamic effect.

Example of Dynamic Layout

In this example, we have a dynamic layout. In which we have a beautiful bold Header on the top, and after this, we have a text placed in an outstanding column. The text itself aligned to the left but the column flows down towards the right or diagonal side. Due to which the layout looks more interesting and dynamic and express the movement feeling in the composition

4. Balance

Look at the bigger picture of your design. It looks pleasing to see and attracts more people to read the information. (One thing always keep in mind design is not anything to attract people to read the information. You should provide attractive and engaging information. At the end of the day people are looking for the information, not for the design) If you look at the elements used in that design. You will see the placement and the weight of that element. Exactly this placement in a particular manner and the weight of an element is known as Balance. Still have confusion! Don’t worry let’s understand briefly.

What is Balance in art?

image by pixabay

The equal distribution of colors, size, objects, and weight. That is given according to the importance of the specific element. is called balance.

If you will love to see the designs or paintings. I recommend you to look at the object that has been drowned in your design and see its weight. You may feel sometimes the object with light in visual value but in the actual value, it is the object of a heavyweight. It is the beauty of balance in design. It will give you full control of your design. You can do anything with balancing that you just imagine in your mind “like the Hollywood movies”

Types of Balance

There are 4 main types of Balance in design. More likely it is categorized according to its working and the way to work.

Symmetrical Balance

In this type of balance, you can see the distribution of visual weight or value equally in every direction. You can cut the design vertically or horizontally but the visual weight of the design is still symmetrical.

It is the same as before. This is the ideal type of composition in balance. But again it depends on your need. If you need other then you can try the below composition types

Asymmetrical Balance

Asymmetrical balance is totally opposite to symmetrical balance. It creates a sense of movement but it is not distributed evenly to every direction like symmetrical. In asymmetrical balance there maybe one or more focal points but they are not at an equal distance to the middle. If you cut out the design in middle it will make two different pieces of designs. But in the symmetrical balance, you can see two same designs on different pages.

4. Proximity

The principle of proximity is related to the closeness of various design elements. In simple language, proximity is directly proportional to the relation between the elements. If we place them together, we can feel them related. If a certain element is placed far from others. We make a perception that it must not be connected to the rest.

A real-life example of proximity

We have an example here, for your better understanding.

Screenshot from Guru.com website: the use of proximity in web design

Have a look at the picture. What do you see?

  • Five columns positioned quite far(i.e. less proximity) inferring they are not directly related.
  • Few elements in each column placed closer(more proximity) than the other columns. This tells us they are connected in some or the another way.
  • Then there is Guru’s logo on the left end and copyright claim on the right one. Both are placed farther away from the rest of the content. So, we seeing their proximity, comprehend that they aren’t related to the content above.

You got the point! Proximity is all about putting related elements together and unrelated elements away. In other words, use more white space when you want the content to look less related and vice versa.

How to use proximity to design like a pro?

The answer is pretty simple! Know which elements are related and place them at similar distances. So that they are perceived as related.

Use more white space when you don’t want an element to be detected.

Less proximity can cause ignorance of elements

When we entirely miss a link, button, or piece of information and need to stress our brain to look for it. Proximity (or rather, the lack of it) is often playing its part. Because elements that are isolated by whitespace are anticipated as being less related. Everything lying outside our focal area is likely to be overlooked most of the time. As we naturally expect all the relevant information and interactive elements to be placed near each other.

A shortage of proximity reduces the chance of an element being noticed. When an element is kept far away from the rest of the elements. We tend to overlook it.

Points to remember

  • Just applying proximity won’t do everything you need for a design.
  • You need to keep in mind the other factors in design too.
  • You need to use color, form, alignment, hierarchy, similarity, etc. principles to get a perfect design.

6. Repetition

‘REPETITION’ Sounds familiar, right?  You might have pictured someone doing the same thing again and again. Like, how you used to cram an answer in school. Even if you didn’t understand a word in it. Repetition is kind of a boring thing, isn’t it?

Not in the case of design!

For design, repetition could be the best thing that happened to your design. It can be interesting, attractive, and remarkable. It leaves a mark on the viewer. Like these hearts will leave a mark on your heart!

Design using repetition principle by Jude Beck

This article is a part of our beginner’s guide to design. Check out the whole guide for advanced learning!

Importance of learning the key principles in design

In graphic design, there are several key principles. The use and understanding of these principles are very crucial. Your design’s appearance depends on their application. If applied correctly, the designs you make will be able to influence your audience. They are all interrelated. So obviously, we can’t afford to miss any one of them while creating a design.

Namely, these key principles are:

  • Contrast
  • Hierarchy
  • Alignment
  • Balance
  • Proximity
  • Simplicity
  • Function
  • Repetition

No matter what you are designing for. It could be anything. A magazine cover, a logo, a poster, a banner. You must keep these principles in mind. A good designer always keeps his basics clear to create a top-level design.

Now, as you have understood the importance of learning the key principle in design. Let’s get started with Repetition, which is one of the key principles!

Importance of learning the key principles in design

The principle of repetition in design simply means repeating the same element or a group of elements in the whole design. It could be the repetition of color, shape, texture, letter, anything.

Here is a real-life example of repetition. The picture below clearly represents the principle of repetition.

The Design repeats itself floor by floor. Click by John T

Nature loves symmetry! What about repetition?

Years ago, I had learned this in physics. “Nature loves symmetry.” I believe the same is true for repetition. In fact, symmetry occurs because of repetition. Right?

I don’t even need to say much. Just have a look on the natural things around you(or try to recall them with me). The leaves of the plants repeat their shape and texture. The sand particles on the beach are all repeating their own self.

Nature indeed loves repetition too!

Types of repetition in design

In the form of Radiation

The sun radiates heat. The heat starts with the sun and spreads around from all sides. This is radiation.

It’s the same in design. When using the repetition principle in the form of radiation. There’s a focal point from where the repetition starts. Later, it spreads throughout the design like radiation.

Take this rose for an example. Its leaves are repeating in the form of radiation. Aren’t they? Told you! Nature loves repetition in every form!

As for design, we have another example.

Ah, it’s a flower again! The design above is a perfect example of radiation in repetition. In fact, any flower is a perfect example! Even the Aloe leaves above show radiation in repetition.

In the form of Gradation

During group photo sessions in school(sorry for these school days examples man! I’m a bit nostalgic these days), we had to stand height-wise. The taller ones would stay at the back and vice versa. That was gradation. Our heights were arranged in increasing order.

You might have figured it out by now. While using gradation, we either increase or decrease the size of the repeated element.

The spiral aloe and the rose above also show a gradation in repetition. The size of the leaves is gradually increasing with each layer.

Differ in Regularity

While using repetition, it isn’t necessary to repeat the elements evenly. You can repeat the element in whatever way you like. It can be even or uneven.

What is the significance of repetition in Design?

Replication of particular design elements in a design brings a clear sense of unity, consistency, and cohesiveness. It creates a unique style, hierarchy structure and strengthens a design.

In the design world, It is said that the main goal of any design is to influence. If your design achieves this goal, it will be accomplishing its purpose to communicate. Besides, the design will convey a certain message which becomes familiar when repeated.

We can say that repetition in design is a kind of brainwashing. We cram things when we want to remember them. The same is true for design. The more we see a design the more it gets familiar to us. Hence, we remember it. Even if we don’t want to remember, repetition leaves an impression on us.  The more we see of something the more we familiarize with it, thus remember it. It is human nature. We find comfort in familiar things.

Image by Dil

Summary

We just learned that repetition makes us remember things. So let me repeat what we just learned so that you remember it.

We learned that the principle of repetition in design is nothing but repeating a certain design element. You can do this in whichever way your creativity goes. It could be gradation, radiation, or just randomly spreading the design element.

Repetition is a crucial design principle. And a good designer won’t miss this. It has the power to make an impact on the human eye. One should not be skeptical about the use of repetition.

6. Simplicity

Simplicity is one of the most important principles of design that keeps your design attractive and to the point. The overall purpose of creating a design is to get an impression and convey your message to users. And you can achieve this purpose by design a simple but informative design.

Using fewer colors and leaving a lot of white space is Simplicity? No! It is not. you need to fulfill the requirements. The actual meaning of simplicity is to keep your piece of design simple and easy-to-understand. If your user can’t understand what you want to convey to them then your design is worthless it can’t achieve your goal. that’s why simplicity is important in every design.

Importance of simplicity in design

Simplicity doesn’t equal in all designs. but the more simple design is easier to understand

Let’s talk about real-time examples so you will better understand the simplicity If you are designing a banner for an eCommerce store. You may sell many different products. Imagine if you are talking about all these products in one banner. What will be the result? definitely, your banner can’t get the result because your customers are confused, They always thinking “What to buy” That why simplicity says that design a banner for a single product and provide fewer call-to-actions so that It will increase the chances of getting results.

How to achieve simplicity in your design

Now it’s time to talk about How to achieve simplicity in your design because we know that it is very important in design principle. So let’s dive into deep.

Don’t be afraid to Remove

Remove all the unnecessary elements or colors. be clear in your goal. sometimes we spend a lot of time designing something but when we place it on our design It seems like there is no need to place this and we will hesitate to remove that element but be clear in your goal. It is not your product something but you should be to convey something If you think your design can’t convey your message you should remove it immediately.

Remember you can’t remove everything from your design because it will make your design more complicated and hard to understand.

Hide Some Features

Sometimes you may want to put some information on your design but It is not important but still, you wish to put it on. in this situation you will give your information less priority. here is how you can balance your design according to its importance. you don’t remove your information but you want to hide it from the priority of your design. But one thing is to keep in mind that is you should give easy to all the information so that the user can easily navigate your design

For Example – On our websites, we are providing drop-down menus, Why? Because don’t want it to be prior but we need to give the information about these features. If we are talking about the banner design you may have seen the address in any banner near you it could be a site address or it could be a street address but it is placed at the bottom of your banner in a small font size. if your eye-catch the banner you may not see that address but if you navigate It will through your eyes. and it is an important aspect of design.

Group Features

The logical groups can help your users to find the right information. Incase if you an eCommerce website, you want to purchase Shoe. But there are many other products it may show other products on their home page. What is the next step you find the menu and is there any category of Shoes? If you find the right category you may purchase otherwise you quite from that website.

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