In this Graphic Design Lesson, I’m going to tell you about the Laws of Design. The principles and skills that you need to develop and communicate your ideas as being a designer.

Laws of Design help in arranging Elements of Design in Graphic Design process. I am Lalit Adhikari from LTY.

What is Graphic Design?

It is defined as the art of visual communication through the use of text, images, and symbols. For more detailed explanation, read our blog, Graphic Design: everything you should know!

Generally, there are three aspects of graphic design which are:

  • Layout: This means how text, images or photographs are arranged on a page.
  • Color: It can help you a lot to communicate the overall tone or mood of your design.
  • Typography: It is the selection of ‘typefaces’ which also can help you to communicate with the mood of the project.

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Rules for Good Design

To be truthful, there are NO Rules for a Good Design. We only have these pointers which act as Guidelines for a Good Design.

Know Your Audience

Whenever you are starting your designing process, it’s very important to know your audience and the goal of your design.  You must know who you are going to be delivering this message to and how it’s going to be represented.

Design Should Be Understandable

A good design is all about good communication. Your design must be very easy to understand.

Use Order And Clarity In Your Design

As a graphic designer, you will be using order and clarity to make information that can be complicated, easier to understand.

Developing Design Intuition

You can build a design intelligence or intuition through practice. So, it’s always a good idea to work on some project to experiment with new designing ethics that are trending and of your own.

And by doing this you will develop a sense of what looks good and what doesn’t.

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Laws of Design

There are six, Laws of Design along with some additional laws. And these rules are usually followed to make any kind of standard design.

Law of Balance

It is the visual weighting of objects on your design. This law says that elements of your design should be perfectly balanced.

An unbalanced design can look very unappealing. To look attractive, elements of the design should be harmonized.

Symmetric Balance

The first type of balance is the symmetric balance. For example, here are three rectangles and I aligned them vertically. They are centered and equally spaced thus this design layout is balanced and ordered.

Symmetrical balance in laws of design
Symmetrical Balance

Asymmetrical Balance

In this type of balance, the volume of the elements on both sides remains the same. But the shape and size of the elements can be different.

For example: here I have two vertical rectangles with three little horizontal rectangles.

While it is heavy to the left side and creates tension, it’s important to keep in mind that actually, the three rectangles on the right side are still adhering to the overall proportions of the other rectangles.

Even though they are different, they are still working within an existing framework.  So, even if it’s asymmetrical, the design isn’t chaotic.

asymmetrical balance in laws of design
Asymmetrical Balance

Radial Balance

It is another great strategy when you are designing; you can order things radically along a center point. It can be quite distinct from a balanced or an asymmetrical organization.

radial balance in laws of design
Radial Balance

Law of Rhythm

Rhythm is a type of movement that is seen in the repeating of shapes and colors or other elements in your work. What separates rhythm from movement is that movement can be of one line or two lines that can just push you to one point.

With rhythm, it’s a repetition or a pattern of shapes, lines, colors or whatever elements you are looking at.  It is basically a visual beat for your design. There are three aspects of this law:

  1.       Repetition 
  2.       Progression
  3.       Direction

For example: we tend to see thick lines and then move to thin lines as our eyes tend more towards the natural decreasing order.

Law of Emphasis

law of emphasis in laws of design
Law of Emphasis

This is a concept of creating distinctions by highlighting the differences. The differences can be of many different forms.

There is always an element of your design where you want to give emphasis on. In a design, only three elements at a time can be emphasized in maximum.

For example: different weights of texts, different shaped objects like the big object or little object or even color like it’s filled or empty.

There are two kinds of emphasis, which you can apply to your design.

  •       Negative Emphasis: This is to ignore an element of the design by placing it in an odd way so that our eyes don’t focus on that element.
  •       Positive Emphasis: In this, we tend to build our design around a specific element by giving it an emphasis.

So, if you are organizing a page by creating these differences, they become highlighted.

Law of Unity

It means there’s should be an overall sense of balance in your design. In composition, it means that your design must have a harmonious feel to it and all the elements of your design need to be in equilibrium.

law of unity in laws of design
Law of Unity

Law of Simplicity

This is a gospel to live by in any graphic design that you need to avoid the overwhelming amount of colors or objects and keep your design simple. You need to focus that if you are representing the idea of your design in the correct way.

You need to have a thorough idea of who is your audience and how are they going to receive or infer what you are suggesting to them. So, you need to simplify the data or the elements that you are representing to your audience.

Not everything on the page needs to be filled up. It’s okay to have some void space to give some breathing room to your design.

Thus the design will be very simple and minimalistic. For example, here’s a design where our eyes read the triangle on the page even though the triangle doesn’t actually exist.

But by seeing these three points our eyes jumps to see the assumptions that there is a triangle here.

Law of Proportion

Proportion is the relationship between the size of the object within a work of art. In other words, it’s the scale of the objects. Proportion helps communicate the relationship between subjects in your design.

It can also show the level of importance. Things larger will be more important than those that are smaller. Things that are larger can also seem like it’s overwhelming where smaller things can seem insignificant.

There’s lot more too graphic design than just throwing some sketches, colors or words on a piece of paper. There’s some real thought that needs to go into it.

The key is to know the mood and message that you want to communicate in your design and then choose the proper elements of principle to effectively communicate your design.

There are other two additional laws of design and they are:

  • Rule of Third: This is a general rule of composition for both photos and films. The object you are trying to highlight or bring attention to in your photos should be positioned either along the grid line or intersection of two lines. Because it creates more tension and interest then simply centering the object.
  • Golden Ratio This ratio is used to make all the perfect designs and artworks.

If you are following our Free Graphic Design Learning Guide then next you should read about, ‘Rule of Thirds‘.

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Lalit Adhikari
Lalit Adhikari

Lalit Adhikari is the Main Author and Admin at Learn That Yourself. He has work experience of more than 10 years in the field of Multimedia and teaching experience of more than 5 years.

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