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Resplendence, a blog from Radiant Resolution about graphic design

The 9 Principles of Design

As an educated designer, we attend years of school (usually after being accepted into a program for already having some artistic talent), and we further our studies on what makes a design "good."

But isn't art subjective? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Perhaps, but there is in fact a science to design. Using these tips, we can trick the eye into reading the most important information first, not by just making it the largest. We can make the eye move across the piece in a pattern that's pleasing, and keep the viewer wanting more. We can make someone feel uneasy with unbalanced work, or happy with bright color choices. The options are endless.

Once an artist develops an eye for these principles, "good" design is easy to come by. It may take years to learn or understand, but by integrating these principles into your everyday work is guaranteed to help you grow as an artist.


Like I said, if a piece of art is unbalanced, you'll suggest an uneasy feeling for viewers. Unbalanced work can drive viewers crazy, and can often look like an amateur has completed it. In a balanced work, the distribution of visual "weight" is even throughout the piece. This includes objects, colors, textures, and most importantly, negative space. You shouldn't just be looking at the "meat" of the design, you should also be looking at the space that's left.


When wanting to emphasize a piece of your design, something must be contrasting against it. Perhaps contracting colors or sizes will help your most important element to stand out.


Movement isn't for moving graphics, it refers to the path the viewer's eye takes through the design. This is where you can actually direct the eye to the most important information first using placement and negative space.


Any pattern can be described as a repeating object throughout the work. Patterns work with the movement of the eye across the piece.


Repeating elements in your design creates a unified look, or, can make the work seem "active" or "alive."


Proportion can refer to a design that's accurately representing a real-world item or scene, but can also refer to objects within the piece relating well to each other.


This isn't the rhythm of sound, it's the rhythm created when one or more elements of a design are used repeatedly to create a feeling of organized movement. It can help create the "mood" of a piece, make it feel alive, active, or exciting.


By using a variety of objects/designs in your work, you'll hold the viewer's attention longer and also help guide the viewer's eye through the work the way you'd like it to.


Creating harmony in your piece is important, because it will give the sense that it is complete. A unified design is a professional design.

How many of these principles did you know? Have you applied them to your work? Let me know in the comments!

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About Brittany Klein

Brittany Klein is a freelance graphic designer from Maryland. She established her company, Radiant Resolution, in 2008 after receiving her Master of Arts degree in graphic design from Savannah College of Art & Design. She has since written blogs, e-books, and articles centered around graphic design and fine art for many organizations across the country.

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