Symmetrical balance is easiest to see in perfectly centered compositions or those with mirror images. In a design with only two elements they would be almost identical or have nearly the same visual mass. If one element was replaced by a smaller one, it could throw the page out of symmetry. To reclaim perfect symmetrical balance you might need to add or subtract or rearrange the elements so that they evenly divide the page such as a centered alignment or one that divides the page in even segments (halves, quarters, etc.).
When a design can be centered or evenly divided both vertically and horizontally it has the most complete symmetry possible. Symmetrical balance generally lends itself to more formal, orderly layouts. They often convey a sense of tranquility or familiarity or elegance or serious contemplation.
See the descriptions below each of these examples that describes how symmetrical balance is achieved in each case.
Vertical Symmetry Each vertical half (excluding text) of the brochure is a near mirror image of the other, emphasized with the reverse in colors. Even the perfectly centered text picks up the color reversal here. This symmetrically balanced layout is very formal in appearance.
Vertical & Horizontal Symmetry This poster design divides the page into four equal sections. Although not mirror images the overall look is very symmetrical and balanced. Each of the line drawings are more or less centered within their section. The graphic (text and image) in the upper center of the page is the focal point tying all the parts together.
Look for examples of balanced symmetry, do these exercises and answer these questions (to yourself).
- How many examples of perfect or near perfect symmetry can you find?
- Fold a few pieces in half vertically and horizontally to look for symmetrical balance.
- Look for sections of symmetrical design within larger layouts such as a graphic, a logo.
- How is the symmetry achieved is it through mirror images, identical placement, or with pieces that are very similar in look and feel?
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