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Symmetry and asymmetry: how to balance your graphic creation?

Updated: Nov 4, 2019

I stop you right now: asymmetry is not synonymous with disorder. When properly used, it helps to create a balance between all elements of a creation.

When it comes time to create a new design, you may have to choose between a symmetrical or asymmetrical layout.

In this article, we will see how these two principles work so that you can organize the elements of your graphic design correctly.

What is symmetry?

The symmetry is based on the principles of Gestalt, a theory of human behavior that states that we naturally create order in what we perceive.

Symmetry has long been a standard in the world of design (just to see the field of architecture), inspiring a stability effect.

In this article, we will consider three main types of symmetry:

Rotational symmetry

Also known as "radial symmetry", the element revolves around a central point. This rotation is naturally found on a starfish for example where each "arm" is located equidistant from the same point.

In graphics, this symmetry of rotation is used to give a movement effect and bring dynamism.

Translational symmetry

Translational symmetry is the repetition of the same element in a certain space. Here the element always keeps the same orientation.

This type of symmetry makes it possible to create rhythm in a graphic creation. It is found for example in patterns.

Reflection symmetry

This is nothing more than the mirror effect, the elements are symmetrical with respect to a central axis. It can be vertical, horizontal or diagonal.

Graphic designers use this symmetry to give an equal "weight" between two parts.

What is asymmetry?

Naturally, asymmetry is the absence of symmetry.

In design, this "random" positioning is used to create a visual tension, or to convey a relaxed message. Here too we may want to give movement to elements.

On the other hand, this concept is not very obvious to put in place because one must be careful to keep coherence between all the elements. The impression of disorder should not come out.

Symmetry vs. asymmetry: what uses to advocate?

The use of symmetry or asymmetry depends on each project.

The use of symmetry in design

In some cases, it is best to use a symmetrical layout:

- Looking for a serious, classic aesthetic

- You want to facilitate the recognition and memorization of information

- You want an orderly and structured design

- You want a simple and balanced design, and you do not want to think too much about the layout of the elements

The Symmetry inspires confidence, so it's no surprise that many brands are seeking stability in their logo or web design.

This almost perfect layout also draws attention to all areas of creation. For example, a site where a web page is divided into two parts can capture the attention of users as far right as left. Two messages are broadcast equally.

Finally, note that symmetry is ideal if you only have one interactive element. Take for example a web page to connect to his account. The text, the fields to enter the ID and the password as well as the connection button are positioned symmetrically.

The use of asymmetry in design

If you find the symmetry boring, an asymmetrical layout should satisfy you, especially if:

- Looking for a more dynamic layout

- You have time to arrange your elements and find the right balance

- Looking for a more fun layout to engage your audience

Find the right balance, that's the difficulty with asymmetry. The secret lies in the size of your elements: you must have small graphic elements on one side, and a larger object on the other.

You can also play on the contrast to highlight a certain part of your creation, or on the contrary make it less visible.

Finally, your asymmetrical design should contain a focal point that will attract attention. So, play on white spaces to isolate an element, add elements that give an impression of movement or directional cues (arrows or a person's look in a photograph that indicates a direction).

How to combine symmetry and asymmetry?

You do not have to decide between these two provisions, you can very well make a mixture within your graphic creation.

In this case, try to make different sections within your design, in which you can vary the arrangement of the elements. For example, in a symmetric presentation it is possible to create a point of interest by breaking the visual hierarchy with an asymmetrically placed element.

It's your turn now to put all this into practice: be creative and whatever arrangement you choose, do not forget the balance.

If you encounter difficulties in the layout of your creation you can find help from a professional graphic designer.

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