Where objects in real life carry physical weight, elements in design carry visual weight. Large elements are heavier and small elements lighter, with each element having its own "weight" based on how much attention they draw.
Visual balance is about ensuring your design is equally weighted on both sides of the central point. It’s like a seesaw—too much weight on either side and the whole thing becomes unbalanced.By striking this balance you create visual harmony and stop your design from feeling too chaotic to the viewer. It’s one of the most important parts of visual composition, and comes in three basic forms:
Symmetrical design uses an imaginary vertical (or sometimes horizontal) line to divide a design into two halves around a central point. Elements of equal visual weight are balanced on each side of the axis to create symmetry.
There are two variants of symmetrical balance: Reflectional symmetry, where the two halves are exact mirror images, and translational symmetry, where the same shape or elements are repeated on both sides of the design.
An asymmetric composition is when a design uses unequal weighted elements. One side might have a visually heavy element, balanced with multiple lighter elements on the opposite side.
To run with the seesaw example, it would be like having a 100kg weight on one side and 100 kg of feathers stacked on the other. It still achieves balance but provides a whole different experience.
Asymmetry is often more visually interesting. Where symmetrical designs can be quite static and predictable, asymmetrical balance can give designs a more dynamic feel.
Radial balance is when elements “radiate” from a point in the centre of a design. Think of rays shining from the sun, petals blossoming from a rose, or a squirt of tomato sauce in the middle of a juicy meat pie.
This form of symmetry is a way to add depth and movement to a design and works to draw attention to an object in the centre of a composition.