Graphic design is a broad discipline guided by basic principles no less. Even though good design is subjective, it tends to abide by certain fundamentals that are universal. The following is an overview of basic design fundamentals:
Creating balance applies in many aspects of design. In design, balance refers to positioning of elements to lend equal visual weight to a composition. As a designer, one has to pay attention to the distribution of visual weight to create equilibrium. In graphic design, there are two types of balance. They are symmetrical and asymmetrical. While symmetrical designs provide a formal note that communicates stability, asymmetrical designs create movement and visual interest for a more informal look.
Proximity creates association between visual elements. Elements that are in close proximity instantly create the impression that they are linked. Here, proximity does not just refer to distance between elements, but also visual connection between elements using similar font types or colours.
Alignment lends order and structure to a design. It also contributes to a more professional and sharper look. With proper alignment, elements will not come across as being random. Instead, it will appear neat and clean. This is essential in every professional layout.
The principle of repetition refers to repeating an aspect of a design throughout. It can be the recurring use of colours, shapes and typefaces. It creates an effect that reinforces a design. Repetition can be regular or irregular, even or uneven. It can even be a gradation whereby repeated small elements become increasingly big. The use of repetition can help evoke visual interest or movement. The end result is a clear design direction that demonstrates uniformity.
Contrast is the juxtaposition of opposing elements. It brings emphasis to certain elements. The use of light and dark in a visual palette is one way to introduce contrast to a visual composition. Contrast is also achievable by interchanging san serif and serif font types for a look that combines classic and contemporary character. Another way is through proportion when a big object is paired with a small object. This immediately creates a focal point where attention gravitates towards.
Applying these design principles in a graphic or layout is an art. Depending on your brand image, audience, context and message, a good design to one can be a design that leaves much to be desired to another. Essentially, good designs must also be effective designs that serve their purpose.