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Symmetrical vs. Asymmetrical Design, That is the Question!

Symmetrical vs. Asymmetrical Design, That is the Question!

Symmetrical Balance, Asymmetrical Balance, Horizontal, and Diagonal

By: Lois Knight

Where do you start with a design? How do you know when it’s done? Are you looking for a balanced symmetrical look or something a little more modern and “out there”? Does it matter? And better than that, who does it matter to?

That’s a lot of questions to answer in a fairly short amount of space, but they are all questions that need to be in the back of your mind when you are designing for yourself or someone else. Remember the Rules of Gestalt, because they apply here.

Where do you start with a design? By asking simple questions and learning to listen to the clues given. A client will usually give clues that even they don’t recognize as you talk about the project with them. Listen, Listen, Listen! After you ask a question, be quiet and let them talk. Don’t cut them off, try to keep interruptions to a minimum, and shut the phone off. Let your client know, they are the most important person in the world to you right at that moment.

Take notes, draw sketches as you listen, take a little time to ask all the questions you feel are important to this project, then go back to your office and get started. Do it while the information is still fresh in your mind. Read over all your notes again just to make sure you understand the message your client wants out. It’s kind of like reading the directions more than once to make sure you are not confused before you start. Once you understand the instructions, start with paper and pencil. Get your ideas, good and bad, down on paper. Some of my best layouts came from what I thought were my worst ideas. There is absolutely no accounting for taste.

All designs need a sense of balance and flow. Symmetrical design tends to offer a straight forward approach to this. An easy way to remember what a symmetrical design is is to measure the layout and mark it straight through the center. This could be horizontal, vertical or corner to corner. If your design is the same on both sides of the line, you can pretty well bet it is symmetrical. This is used frequently in magazine layouts and newspapers, but can be used anywhere that a sense of balance is needed to convey your message.

Not everyone wants a straightforward design. They like the look of the unusual. Many times this is used to convey a message to a younger demographic group. It’s more of a WOW factor. It is a design that catches you off guard by drawing you in. It may be a design that draws the eye from left to right or from top to bottom, but does it in a more random fashion than symmetrical. It is for this reason; it is called Asymmetrical and is the presentation of a non-balanced visual image.

Symmetrical is much easier to design than asymmetrical. Balanced designs are easy to produce and show, allowing a beginner to have a certain amount of success if they stick to the basics. Asymmetrical takes a little more practice and a certain flair for the abstract. I personally prefer this type of design because it makes me think outside the box. I have to work at it though. For me, it is a learned talent. I have known others though, that seem to have a natural talent for thinking outside the box and actually have trouble creating or even defining a symmetrical design. No matter which one you are better at, you need to be familiar with both.

When do you know when you are done with a design? That depends. Are you in need of a simple design on a low budget? Or is money not an object? I like to keep my designs clean and simple. Most of the clients I work with prefer it. Depending on the mood of the client, I try to offer a variety of designs. I usually try to start simple but offer something a little more elaborate. Try not to give them too many choices. Three to five good ideas will usually suffice.

After all of this listening and thumb nailing, and soul searching, who does it really reach and why? It may be a message that is created with one person in mind, or it may be created with a worldwide audience. The bottom line is that it reaches the people it is intended for. Your job is to make sure it gets to them in a clear, balanced and concise way.

Below you can take a look at some examples of Asymmetry and Symmetry.

Symmetrical Balance, Asymmetrical Balance, Horizontal, and Diagonal

Symmetrical Balance, Asymmetrical Balance, Horizontal, and Diagonal

Symmetrical Balance in Graphic Design

Symmetrical

Symmetrical Balance in Graphic Design

Symmetrica

Symmetrical Balance

Symmetrical

Slobber Symmetry Balance in Design

Symmetrical

Jigsaw Symmetry Balance in Design

Symmetrical

Symmetrical Orange Shape

Symmetrical

Symmetrical Balance in Graphic Design

Symmetrical

Symmetrical Balance in Graphic Design

Symmetrical

Asymmetrical Faces Graphic Design

Asymmetrical

Asymmetrical Carpet Graphic Design

Asymmetrical

Asymmetrical Bottle Graphic Design

Asymmetrical

Asymmetrical Balance in Graphic Design

Asymmetrical

Asymmetrical Balance in Graphic Design

Asymmetrical

Asymmetrical Balance in Web Design

Asymmetrical

[tags]symmetrical design, asymmetrical design, graphic design, symmetry in graphic design, asymmetry in graphic design, symmetry in design, asymmetry in design, asymmetry, symmetry, design, asymmetrical, symmetrical, symmetrical vs. asymmetrical, web design[/tags]

By Lois Knight - You can also see Lois Knight’s Articles on Freelance Folder

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2 Comments

  1. Posted March 6, 2008 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Asymmetrical for sure. It’s so much more interesting.

  2. Posted April 15, 2008 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    I battle with this when I was in college…and found out that I would easily go for symmetrical. But the more I study design and implement that which I learn I find that asymmetrical is definitely the way to go! It just right for the design world…lol

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