O'Reilly logo

Graphic Designer's Essential Reference by Timothy Samara

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

2
(RAY)
Job:07-26153 Title:RP-Graphic Designer’s Essential Reference PB Edn
#175 Dtp:204 Page:19
001-035_26153.indd 19 7/12/11 10:31 AM
19
(Text)
ESSENTIAL VISUAL STRATEGIES
BASIC TECHNIQUES
Dynamic
Loud
Casual
Spontaneous
Contemporary
Innovative
Essential
Fragmented
Complex
Static
Quiet
Formal
Studied
Historical
Conservative
Decorative
Solid
Simple
Two basic kinds of gestalt logic govern
composition in every layout: symmetry and
asymmetry. Symmetry is a compositional
state in which the arrangement of forms
responds to the central axis of the format
(either the vertical or the horizontal axis);
forms also may be oriented relative to their
individual central axes. Symmetrical arrange-
ments create a “mirroring” effect
spaces or
contours on either side of the orga-nizational
axis are the same. Asymmetry is an opposing
logic: The arrangement of every form defi es
relationship with any central axis or among
the forms themselves. The result is a collec-
tion of spatial proportions that are inherently
different from each other.
Visual and Metaphorical Differences
in Compositional Logic
Symmetry and asymmetry produce very
different visual experiences in a viewer. The
similarity of spaces or shapes in a symmetrical
confi guration is very direct and ef cient, but
can be too simple or static, causing viewers to
hastily gloss over information. Asymmetrical
arrangements provoke rigorous involve-
ment
they require continual assessment
of differences in space, stimulating the eye
to greater movement. From the standpoint
of communication, asymmetry improves
the ability to differentiate, catalog, and recall
content because the viewers investigation of
spatial difference becomes tied to the order-
ing, or cognition, of the content itself.
On another level, symmetry and asym-
metry come with cultural and conceptual
baggage. Prior to the early twentieth century,
all design was ordered symmetrically. As a
result, symmetrical, or centered, layouts tend
to be perceived as traditional or historical;
because design prior to the Industrial Revo-
lution was primarily created by religious,
governmental, and academic institutions,
symmetrical layouts also are generally
perceived as formal, careful, decorative, or
institutional. Choosing the best gestalt logic
for a given project depends on which associa-
tion will be most appropriate for the target
audience—compositional logic itself is a
message to be conveyed.
COUNTERACT THE STATIC
QUALITIES OF SYMMETRY
Disturb the overall sym-
metrical layout with an
asymmetrical element.
Exaggerate the variation
in widths of elements
across the axis.
Distribute color or density
among symmetrically con-
gured elements to create
an asymmetrical emphasis
in weight or intensity.
Scale the symmetrical
confi guration overall so
that it is confrontational
within the format.
Force the spatial intervals
between elements aligned
on the axis to be as differ-
ent as possible.
comparing attributes
SYMMETRY ASYMMETRY
Symmetry and Asymmetry
Tip
(RAY)
Job:07-26153 Title:RP-Graphic Designer’s Essential Reference PB Edn
#175 Dtp:204 Page:19
001-035_26153.indd 19
7/12/11 10:30 AM

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required