aesthetic principles of design

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What makes for good design? Here are a list of aesthetic principles to consider when creating or evaluating design:

1.) Heirarchy -setting priorities.
What’s the most important thing, visually, in this layout? Is it the most important, most attractive or most convincing part of the message? What’s next? What’s last?

2.) Emphasis and focus -the visual expression of heirarchy.
Once you know what’s most important, use visual emphasis to focus attention through size, position, value, and color.

3.) Contrast -big/little, crowded/open, orange/blue.
Contrast is the tool of emphasis, which helps you set that heirarchy, focus attention and create drama.

4.) Tension -throwing things off a little.
You create tension by manipulating relative position. Place things a little too close together, or set up a little too much contrast in their visual weights. Tension helps make the design aesthetic.

5.) Balance -creating a gravitational axis.
Balance doesn’t have to be symmetry. By opposing dense detail with open space, or heavy elements with lighter ones, balance can be asymmetric and, again, athletic.

6.) Rhythm -variety and pattern.
Variety relieves the eye, and pattern helps the mind make sense of it. In multipage works, rhythm creates pacing across the whole.

7.) Flow -leading the eye across the surface.
This should happen in a desired sequence.

8.) Depth -leading the eye beyond the surface, or making things jump out from the surface.
Depth is the most inherently contradictory illusion of 2D design, and therfore, one of the most compelling.

9.) Scale -the illusion of size.
The size of elements relative to one another is important, of course, but the size of things in relation to the format and the size of the format itself are also worth considering.

10.) Movement -the illusion of physical interaction among elements.
Usually figurative -with elements angled or poised like bodies in motion -movement can also be created with such optical effects as linear repetition, visual vortexes and the like. Used deliberately, suggested movement can have a marked emotional and physical impact on a viewer.

11.) Unity -that which holds the piece together.
Color can unify a design, as can a grid, visuals that represent related subjects or a consistant style of imagery. In an age of over-stimulation and cacophony, unity is often underrated.

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