Sunday, October 17, 2010

2D Readings: Introduction To Design

Unity and Harmony

  • Thematic:  The artist's intentional use of similarity in organizing objects, shapes or forms visually.  Themes can communicate emotional meaning beyond what the viewer sees physically.  A theme is visually heard as a melody that plays on the variances of harmony to variety.  The essential components in creating thematic unity are repetition with variety and skill in combining the elements to create compositional unity. 
  • Gestalt:  The four main principals are closure, proximity, similarity (or repetition), and continuance.  The sum of the components of a composition have greater meaning than the individual parts.  These components when combined in specific ways can imply movement in their interrelationships.  
                        closure - seeing incomplete forms as complete.  It can incorporate negative space between
                        elements into new shapes and forms.  This adds meaning and interest to the composition.

                        proximity -  placing elements close together in groupings creating a whole structurally.
                        repetition - creates patterns that in turn produce rhythms in compositions.  Adding
                        variations creates interest.

                        continuance - use of real or implied lines that guide the viewer around a single composition.
                        Continuity differs in that it involves a series, as in a magazine or book, .
  • Grid:  A guide of vertical and horizontal lines in a rectilinear arrangement that form a grid pattern for placement of elements to achieve unity compositionally.  The more columns there are the more variety and interest is created.


  • Formal - Geometric and symmetric creating a mirror image on both sides of a horizontal axis.  This balance creates a sense of stability.  Symmetrical is one type of formal balance.  Another is approximate symmetrical balance that is not exactly symmetrically divided but close and is a way to organize compositional elements so there is still harmony.

  • Informal - Asymmetric and curvilinear that creates movement and interest. This type of balance is more energetic and involves contrast in a composition.

  • Symmetrical - Very appealing visually and natural focal point because it is most like our physical body.  Approximate symmetry is more like nature but will not impose imbalance within the composition and creates more opportunity for variety.  These opportunities may be formulated as  inverted symmetry, like playing cards, that are interesting but clumsy or biaxial symmetry that uses a vertical and horizontal axis.

  • Asymmetrical - More difficult to achieve than symmetrical because specific attention must be paid to size, shape, color, and placement within a composition.

Balance by:

  • Shape - A small complex shape can balance a large simple shape because our brains take about the same amount of time to determine complexity and size.

  • Texture - More complex shapes can turn into texture because they hold more information.  Blocks of text as texture can balance a photograph or white space can balance shapes.

  • Value - Positioning light/dark and high/low contrast areas for a harmonious composition. 

  • Color - Intense colors, such as red and yellow, have more affect than cool colors and need to be used very little to make an impression.  If used to much, the composition can become overwhelming.  There needs to be a place within the composition to rest your eyes.

  • Position - If an object like a fish that implies movement, is placed symmetrically along the central axis then there is no imagined space for the fish to swim into, and this creates an unbalanced composition.  An even number of objects of the same weight can be balanced by positioning them equidistant from the axis.  Odd numbers of objects can be balanced by placement of the smaller ones opposed by a larger one.  Gestalt principle of grouping can also produce balance.

  • Eye direction - Implied lines from the eye to the object naturally draws attention and unifies the composition.  The "magnetic" effect influences the position of a figure by directing movement toward the edge if the figure is looking outside frame or centrally if the figure is looking into the frame.  Perspective can also draw the eye down a winding path to a place of visual interest or be balanced by a place of visual interest.

  • Radial - A form of symmetry that radiates out from a central point in straight lines or in spirals to form a circle.  These patterns can also radiate inward or in concentric circles.

  • Crystallographic - Refers to the endless symmetries found in crystals.  It is a composition in which there is an overall pattern, either informal or by grid, and has no focal point. 

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