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The first of these skills, composition, can be further divided into five subcategories that work together to create a whole: balance, proportion, line, rhythm and color. 

The first principle, balance, is an understanding of symmetry and asymmetry.  By definition, symmetry is visual information in which equal arrangement of forms are positioned on opposite sides of a real or imaginary line.  For example, the diameter of a circle serves as a line of symmetry because the forms on either side of the diameter are the same.  For most practical purposes in compositional layout, symmetry refers to text or images that are balanced.  Symbolically, this property signifies order, formality, and classical style.  Consider famous classical buildings and monuments and you will discover the symmetry employed in their design.  By this logic, if one wants to break from traditional esthetics, asymmetry, or the lack of symmetry may be the way to go.  With this technique, one can make powerful, eye-catching, unconventional statements, making asymmetry popular in modern design.

The next area of composition, proportion, also deals with the relationship between visual masses.  This property can be best illustrated by considering a human body.  One would expect a head to be a certain size with respect to the rest of the body.  If, for example, your head was exchanged with one the size of an elephant’s, it would look completely out of proportion.  In text, we avoid being out of proportion by not allowing a page to look “bottom heavy”, or having the bulk of the text all at the bottom of the page.  Another aspect of proportion has to do with font sizes.

For example:

The Philanthropic Association of Volunteers with Expertise’s Annual Benefit Ball

Come Dressed with a Donation.

Notice how small the typeface of “come dressed with a donation” is in relation to what precedes it.  At a quick glance, the viewer would very likely not even notice it.  Probably this is not the best strategy for bringing in donations.  On the flip side, if one must legally include some text that would ideally go unnoticed, using the “fine-print” technique may prove useful.

The third area of composition, line, can be broken down into four basic types. Again, try to observe these properties in other publications and then modify them to suit your own purposes.

1. Vertical lines: sturdy, classic, static.

2. Horizontal lines: evoke rest and repose.

3. Diagonal lines: full of movement, dynamic.

4. Curved lines: quiet, comforting, romantic.

Rhythm is the fourth compositional issue employed to create a sense of movement or dimension.  It can possess either an active or inactive quality, as demonstrated by the following examples.

1. Repetition: strong and steady. ======

2. Echo:  undulating, symbolizing growing and shrinking or arriving and departing.

Thank You

Thank You

Thank You

3. Alternation: symbolizes potential alternatives.  /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

Finally, when thinking about composition, think in terms of color.  Every color has the power to evoke a different mood or characteristic.  Two major groups are warm colors and cool colors.  The former are also called earth colors and can serve to stimulate, excite or brighten.  Cool colors, on the other hand, are considered cool and relaxing.  Generally, color should be used wisely and appropriately.  It shouldn’t overwhelm, unless that is the intended function.


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