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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.