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What Is Balance In Art?
Dawit Abeza
What Is Balance In Art?

What Is Balance In Art?

The general proportion of visual weight in a piece is referred to as balance. A well-balanced composition is pleasing to the eye. Each visual element of artwork carries a certain amount of visual weight. Visual weight, unlike actual weight, cannot be calculated and the results must instead be viewed.

The visual weight of the artwork is balanced around its axis. When the axis is vertical, visual elements on both sides of the axis are balanced. Visual elements may also be balanced from top to bottom in artworks that balance around a horizontal axis.


What does the term "balance" signify in the context of art?

The visual weight of forms, colors, texture, and space is distributed in balance. These elements should be balanced if the design is a scale to make it feel stable. Within the work of art, such movement might be guided along lines, edges, shape, and color.

How is balance important in art?

Balance is something that most artists aim for when creating their work. A balanced work appears steady, helps the viewer feel at ease, and is attractive to the eye since the visual weight is dispersed evenly across the composition.

Unbalanced art appears unstable, produces tension, and makes the viewer uncomfortable. Balance is a crucial aspect to remember because it conveys a lot about a piece of art and can contribute to the overall impression, making a composition energetic and alive or restful and quiet.

How the elements of art influence balance?

Artists take note that certain components and characteristics have more visual weight than others when making artwork. Although each composition is unique, and pieces within a piece always behave with one another, the following criteria apply in general.


Colors have three primary qualities that influence their visual weight: value, saturation, and hue. Transparency might also be a factor. Darker colors appear to have a larger visual weight than lighter ones. Visually, black is the darkest color and has the heaviest weight, whereas white is the lightest color and has the lightest weight.

Nevertheless, the size of the form is also important. A shorter, darker shape, for instance, can be balanced by a bigger, lighter shape.

Color saturation: More intense Colors tend to be heavier than colors that are more neutral (duller). When a color is mixed with its counterpart on the color wheel, it becomes less vivid.

Shape in balance

Greater complex shapes (trapezoids, hexagons, and pentagons) have more visual weight than simpler shapes squares, circles, and ovals. The scale of the shape is critical; larger shapes appear to be heavier than smaller shapes, but a collection of little shapes might visually match the weight of a large shape.


What are the types of balance in art?

Balance is divided into three types: symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial.

Symmetrical balance

Symmetry is a technical balance in which two parts of the artwork are mirror images of one another. This form of equilibrium is very prevalent. The human body, like our planet, cars, clothes, and furniture, is symmetrically balanced. Both the composition and the subject are given a solid sense of order and stability through symmetry.

Formal balance is a term used to describe symmetrical balance. Symmetrical arrangement achieves left-to-right balance, but vertical balance is equally crucial. When an artist overemphasizes either the top or bottom section of a composition, it might throw off the artwork's coherency and consistency. When feelings of order, formality, logic, and stability are desired, symmetrical balance is typically used in educational architecture and religious and secular art.

Asymmetric balance

Asymmetry is more casual and unorganized than symmetry. The two halves of a balanced asymmetric artwork do not appear to be identical, but their visual weights are similar. Both symmetry and radial symmetry are more objective than asymmetric balancing. In comparison to perfectly balanced designs, asymmetry provides for more variety in the composition.

It achieves the same "comfortable" effect as symmetry without requiring the use of like pieces on opposite sides of a central axis. Asymmetric balance is preferred by many artists because it is less rigid and more natural than symmetric balance. While symmetry demonstrates the artist's goal to create a visually balanced image, uneven balance demands design and effort. In comparison to symmetrical balance, asymmetrical balance is less formal and more dynamic. It may appear to be less formal, yet it demands meticulous planning.

Vincent van Gogh's "The Starry Night" is an example of asymmetrical balance (1889). The bright circle of the moon in the top right corner optically counterbalances the dark triangular shape of the trees that visually anchor the painting's left side.

Radial balance

Radial balance is a symmetry that exists in several planes.  Radially balanced designs are frequently circular. Squares, hexagons, octagons, stars, and other shapes give themselves to radial symmetry as well. Radial symmetry is a type of symmetrical balance in which the components are evenly distributed around a central point, such as the spokes of a wheel or the waves created when a stone is dropped in a pond.

Radial symmetry has a considerable focus point.  Radial symmetry can be seen in many places in nature, including tulip petals, dandelion seeds, and some marine life, such as jellyfish. It can also be found in religious art and sacred geometry.


What does formal balance mean in art?

Symmetrical balance, also known as formal balance, is an anesthetic notion that involves equal weight and significance on all sides of a constituent.

What does radial balance mean in art?

The scope of elements around a center point is referred to as radial balance. When each element has an equal perceived weight, radial symmetry is achieved. The attention to detail and the way the shapes flow into one another make the composition new and intriguing, although it is symmetrical.


Balance art examples

Examples of asymmetrical balance in art

  • Alexander Calder, Mobile
  • Yinka Shonibare, Dysfunctional Family
  • Katsushika Hokusai, The Great Wave off Kanagawa
  • Paul Strand, Abstraction, Twin Lakes, Connecticut

Examples of radial balance in art

  • Charger of Charles II in the Boscobel Oak
  • Melozzo da Forlì, St. Mark’s Sacristy

Examples of symmetrical balance in art

  • Precolumbian, Presentation of Captives to a Maya Ruler
  • John Singer Sargent, El Jaleo
  • American 19th Century, Cutout of Animals
  • Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait
  • Juan Sánchez Cotán, Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber
  • Judith Leyster, A Boy and Girl with a Cat and an Eel

Why is design balance so important?

The visual weight is uniformly distributed with symmetrical balance. The visual balance would be distributed evenly if you drew a straight line thru the middle of the design in either direction. This gives the composition a more steady and tidy appearance.


What is crystallographic balance, and what does it mean?

A vast number of elements are given equal weight in crystallographic (or mosaic) balance. The outcome is a type of balanced chaos in which numerous different pieces merge to form a coherent whole, rather than a precisely symmetrical pattern.

Because the eye can't find a single focal point on a crystallographic image, the observer is fooled into viewing the image as a balanced whole, although it contains a plethora of disparate and random pieces.

What Is crystallographic balance and how so I use it?

By crowding the layout with varied aspects, you can promote mosaic equilibrium in your designs and images. The eye will be able to detect individual elements in sparse layouts, reducing the impression. Consider the works of Jackson Pollack. Even though his art is chaotic and different, the overall impact is one of serenity and uniformity.

To produce a crystallographic effect, use different or similar elements and repeat them. Because these images are typically perceived as background noise by the human eye, they perform well as backgrounds and backdrops for more prominent designs or typography.

You can also use scale and proportion to your advantage. When used in a crowded mosaic pattern, slightly bigger pieces will not overpower smaller ones. In reality, a clever mix of disparately sized pieces can make an image appear more appealing and natural. You may also pick a color scheme that is similar to or complementary to the mosaic images to bring them together and make them feel even more balanced.

In a composition, how do you express balance?

To balance a composition, positive elements and negative space must be arranged in such a way that no one section of the design dominates the others. Everything works together and blends into a unified whole. Individual pieces contribute to the whole, but they don't attempt to be the whole.


How to Make Art That Is Balanced

The four variables that influence a composition's balance are listed below. Although the list of balancing forces that follow is not extensive, it might serve as a starting point for researching balance in your creativity.


When all else is equal, larger items have more visual weight than smaller objects. If two things of different sizes must be balanced, the smaller one will require an increase in apparent weight. Additional smaller objects or plenty of negative space around the object could provide this visual weight.

Use of color

Bright colors appear to be heavier than drab colors. Furthermore, if two colors have similar intensities, the warmer of the two has more visual weight.


The two-dimensional arrangement of visual components is influenced by our real-world experiences with weight and physics in at least one way.

Pattern and texture

In painting, texture and pattern are similar notions. Each is characterized by regular contrast shifts, which are usually achieved through the use of value (the lightness or darkness of a color). Visual weight is added by texture and pattern. In art, you can adjust the balancing forces by increasing or decreasing the amount of texture and pattern in a certain location. With a little area of pattern/texture, a huge area of smooth, even values will balance.


What role do textures have in art balance?

A form or shape that lacks texture appears to be lighter in weight than one that has. In most cases, the texture is combined with other elements of art. A texture made up of tighter lines or densely drawn lines will appear heavier than one made up of open lines. Dark colors or a complicated appearance will be heavier than a plain appearance.

In art, what is the symmetrical balance?

When design elements on the left side of an image mirror design elements on the right side, or when the top of the composition mirrors the bottom of the composition, this is known as symmetrical balance.

Symmetrical balance example

The proportion of a Human by Leonardo da Vinci. Once divided in half along the central axis, the objects on the two sides would precisely match each other, as if reflected by a mirror.


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