Design Principles - Unity, Balance, Rhythm, Focal Point, Proportion


“Unity is a measure of how the elements of a page seem to fit together - to belong together” (skaalid, 1999).

A few different ways to achieve unity are through proximity, repetition and continuation.

Proximity is the simplest way of creating an appearance of belonging together. See a sample of proximity:


Repetition is a great way to show unity with repeating colors, textures, shapes and objects. See a sample of repetition:


Continuation is a subtle way to create unity in design. Using a continuing line, edge or direction from one part of the piece to another are ways to unify the design. See a sample of continuation:

Balance “is an equal distribution of weight” (Linda, 2006) or “objects are of equal weight, they are in balance” (Skaalid,1999). There are a few different types of balance.

Symmetrical balance which is a mirror image balance. It is basically making one side of the page very similar to the other side. See sample of symmetrical balance:

Asymmetrical balance occurs when multiple small items balance a large item, or smaller items are more distant from the center of the screen than larger items. Another method is, using a darker item may be balanced with multiple lighter items. See sample of asymmetrical balance:

Asymetrical Ballance

Radial balance is when all elements “radiate” out from the center point in circular gesture. It is know for being quite easy to keep a focal point when using radial balance, because all the elements will draw your eye in toward the center. See sample of radial balance:

Radial  Ballance


“Rhythm is a pattern that is created by repeating or varying elements, with consideration given to the space between them, and by establishing a sense of movement form one element to another” (Linda, 2006). By using rhythm or repetition a designer creates consistency with in the design that makes it easier for the observer to understand. Many different types of rhythm create different feelings for the observer. Using a regular rhythm will reveal breaks between elements, and sometimes the elements are relative in size or length. The use of a flowing rhythm creates a feeling of movement, and more natural. Finally using a progressive rhythm reveals an arrangement of figures with a sequence of steps.

See Regular Rhythm:

Regular Rhythm

See Flow Rhythm:

Flow Rhythm
See Progressive Rhythm:
Progressive Rhythm

Focal Point:
Focal point refers to the part of the design that is most emphasize. Many adjustments can be made to accentuate any element in a design such as shape, position, size, color, value, direction, and even texture. (Linda, 2006)

See Focal Point:

Focal Point

Proportion is known as “ the relation of one part to another or to the whole with respect to magnitude, quantity, or degree” (proportion, 2010). Good use of proportion will aid in establishing depth and visual weight.


Works Cited:

Linda, Robin. Graphic Design Solutions. Bostin: Wadsworth, 2006.
Skaalid, Bonnie, “Classic Graphic Design Theory Principles of Design: Balance”,
1999. Web 13 Jan. 2009.
< http://www.usask.ca/education/coursework/skaalid/theory/cgdt/balance.htm>

Skaalid, Bonnie, “Classic Graphic Design Theory Principles of Design: Unity”,
1999. Web 13 Jan. 2009.

"proportion." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010.
Merriam-Webster Online. 13 January 2010

Other Resources:
AIO Lecture


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