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What is Radial Balance?

Radial balance is a fundamental principle in all types of design, from graphic arts to illustration and photography. With radial balance, those looking at an image or photo are most likely to feel satisfied and comfortable, rather than feeling as if something is "off" kilter or not in its proper place.

What is radial balance?

Radial balance or radial symmetry is known as a key principle of design that focuses on a central focal point of a photo or created design. Essentially, the radial balance definition refers to the radius of objects that are included in a piece of art as well as their location(s) and whether or not they are the focal center of a design. The use of radial symmetry is to simply create balance with the use of circular or radially oriented designs, shapes, and lines to create a balanced center for any piece of work.

Why is radial balance important?

When it comes to making a first impression as a brand or business, you often only have one opportunity to do so, especially if you are attempting to sell a product or service. Any time an individual is presented with a promotion from your company, they make a judgment and a decision at that moment regarding how they feel about your business and what it is that you have to offer.

In one study, companies that placed a strong focus on design experienced 32% more revenue growth than their counterparts.

In one McKinsey study, it was discovered that companies that place a strong emphasis and focus on the design of their marketing materials and/or products themselves saw a significant 32% increase in overall sales. When promotional materials and designs are attractive, balanced, and properly crafted, it is much easier to appeal to a wider audience while connecting with prospective customers on a subconscious level using radial and symmetrical balance.

Radial balance in art

Radial balance isn't just used in marketing efforts. In fact, radial symmetry and radial composition are a part of just about all forms of art and media created today.

Whether you are taking a photograph of a field of flowers or attempting to illustrate the sun as the center focal point of your creation, the radial balance of any piece of work must always be taken into consideration.

4 Types of visual balance

Have you ever looked at a photograph or a stunning ad campaign and simply felt joy or happiness? Did the image make you feel pleasantly satisfied? This is often due to compositional balance throughout the piece of art or design itself.

Four types of compositional balance

Understanding the 4 types of compositional or visual balance can help when crafting your own marketing campaign designs or artistic works.

Asymmetrical

If you think of the word 'asymmetrical' and it makes you feel uncomfortable and/or unbalanced, this is completely normal.

While in most cases, asymmetrical balance can be initially off-putting, there is a way to find balance with asymmetrical balance designs or asymmetrical elements used to create a larger work of art. Asymmetrical balance is about finding balance with different shapes and sizes of shapes while also keeping the entire balance of the piece of art in mind throughout the process.

Even when you are working with elements of different shapes and sizes, balancing them is possible by distinguishing visual weight in each individual object and using surrounding elements to help bring the picture together in perfect harmony.

Symmetrical

Symmetrical balance in design is in nearly all facets of our everyday lives, from stovetop designs to reading guides and tutorials. Symmetrical design often helps us to feel comfortable or in harmony, as the balance of elements in an image can simply help one to feel at ease.

Symmetrical balance in itself is defined as finding the balance of numerous objects of equal weight while also keeping the central point of the composition in mind at all times. Symmetrical balance typically aligns elements both vertically and horizontally so that all sides appear equal and reflective of one another.

Symmetrical balance designs work best when you are using elements that appear to be all the same size, shape, and weight, depending on the type of composition you are creating. Humans instinctively find symmetrical designs more appealing, in both art and in nature, so it is no surprise that we are naturally drawn to ensuring balance in the artwork we produce.

Radial

Creating radial balance is nothing new or revolutionary, but it often includes a round or circular central point on an image or a piece of art.

Radial symmetry can help to bring a piece of work together using a circular, or radial object in the center of the design or in a patterned form, depending on the purpose of the design and its message.

Radial balance helps to attract the eye to the center of a design without overwhelming the viewer. In fact, most radial designs that use circles and circular objects to attract attention can do so in a calming and welcoming manner, rather than feeling smothering or overwhelming to those who see the piece.

When you think of radial symmetry, consider the sun, moon, water whirlpools, seashells, flower petals, and even the rings of trees, which can all be useful objects for balanced radial designs.

Crystallographic

If you have ever looked at an image of a mosaic pattern or a collage of art that is chaotic and random, yet entirely balanced, this is often referred to as crystallographic balance.

With crystallographic balance, using numerous graphic elements, shapes, and items together is possible so long as the image as a whole appears balanced with proper weights and distributions.

Using multiple chaotic and/or random elements in one piece of art is possible when the elements appear to feel balanced and placed properly within the work itself.

Because the human eye is not as capable of focusing on more than one element at a time when viewing a piece of artwork, a crystallographic design helps bring all elements together in a unified sense, achieving the overall feeling of balance regardless of the number of items in the said design.

Radial Balance in Design

When thinking of radial balance in design, it is often referred to as radial composition. Radial composition is essentially the technique of finding the perfect arrangement of shapes and various objects in order to create an optimal balance in any image or artistic creation.

Using radial symmetry in design can help to attract individuals to learn more about the message you are trying to convey while also subconsciously giving off an impression that directly reflects your brand or the message you represent.

Radial Balance in Photography

Photographing a subject requires more than simply pointing the camera and taking the picture. In order to achieve a shot that simply "feels right and balanced", taking radial balance into account may be necessary, depending on the photographer's intended subject. Creating radial balance photography is often done when taking photos in nature or whenever there is a circular or rounded object that is the central point of a photo.

Radial Balance Examples

Before diving into your own designs, familiarize yourself with various radial balance examples and the type of compositional balance found in each photograph or design.

Design of spiral seashells highlighting radial design

This design of an abstract spiral rainbow seashell is not only symmetrical in its design, but also includes a radial balance with the use of two circular objects.

A row of five floral bouquet designs highlighting symmetrical radial balance

With this floral bouquet design, notice that each individual floral object is similar in size and weight, providing a symmetrical radial balance with the use of round floral elements.

A textured stock background image highlighting crystallographic compositional balance

A great example of crystallographic compositional balance is this yellow and black texture stock background. Not only does the image feel balanced even without one central point, but it also includes a multitude of different elements throughout.

An example of radial balance with asymmetrical design often includes photos taken in nature or photos of specific objects. Photographs and designs of nature will typically include rounded objects, such as the moon, the sun, or even rounded grassy hills and floral designs.

How to achieve radial balance in art

Achieving radial balance in art requires more than simply adding a circle to an existing design or simply choosing any circular element to insert into your work. Achieving radial balance in art requires a thorough understanding of various design principles and steps that should be considered before finalizing any project you are working on, such as:

  • Direction: Which element(s) in your design are you intending to use to draw attention to when it is shown to others? How will you emphasize the importance of these elements and why they are in the design?
  • Patterns: The use of patterns and repetition can also help to bring a design together, especially when you are using radial elements such as circles to attract others to your work.
  • Movement in Design: Is there a rhythm to the design you have created, or a natural flow? Is it easy to view your work and determine what it is that you are trying to say? Can others find the message in your work without trying too hard based on the design's flow and movement?
  • Size: What size is the design you are creating, and how will those who are intended to see it view it? Considering the proportions of any design ahead of time can help with placing radial elements throughout. Learn more about image optimization best practices before choosing the size of your next design.
  • Contrast: The use of various contrast techniques can also help to bring balance and weight to specific areas of a design, which can help create symmetrical radial designs.
  • Perspective: Consider the perspective of the piece of artwork you are creating and how others may first view the design once it is complete. How will the radial balance you implement to appeal to the intended audience or the demographics you intend to reach?
  • Unity: Finally, does your piece of art simply "flow"? Do you feel pleasant and balanced whenever you are looking at your work in progress, or do you feel as if it is missing something or that something is "off" with its overall balance? The unity and harmony of a design can make all of the difference when using radial design, whether you are working on a personal creative project or resources for a marketing campaign.

If you are just getting started with radial balance and radial composition, use the following steps to immerse yourself in the process of achieving the balance you desire for your next design:

  • Join artistic communities: Immerse yourself in the art and design community, both online and locally, if possible. Using online communities can also help provide insight into photo editing best practices today. The more familiar you become with various artists, photographers, and graphic designers that create radial balance, the easier it will be for you to replicate similar techniques in your own unique way.
  • Study existing artistic creations: One of the best ways to get to know more about a particular topic or subject in art is to simply dive in. Study existing creations, marketing campaigns, and balanced photographs that utilize circular and radial elements as a center point.
  • Take a course: Enrolling in a basic design, graphic design, illustration, or photography course is a great way to learn the basics of balance and compositional balance in all types of designs and creations today. Courses for design are available locally as well as online via university, as well as alternative digital learning communities.

Radial balance and marketing

Incorporating radial balance into your marketing assets can significantly increase the engagement and positive response you receive from prospective and existing customers or clients. If you are in charge of the design of marketing assets for an upcoming campaign (digital or offline) and you want to create radial balance to draw and attract attention, complete the steps listed below.

1. Select compositional balance type

Before you begin creating any new marketing element or asset, it is important to choose the compositional balance type that you will be using. If you are unsure of the type of design you are going to create, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who am I targeting? What audience am I trying to reach? Am I interested in appealing to specific demographics, or do I want my design to appeal to an extended audience? How does my target audience typically find information regarding the topic I am covering in my design?
  • What message am I trying to convey with my new marketing asset(s)? Am I trying to attract new prospective customers to my business or am I simply trying to spread the word about a topic that is important to me?
  • Where will I be sharing the design(s) that I create for marketing purposes? Will my designs be used locally and as physical objects, or will they be shared online via social media, email, or even on an official website? How does the platform I choose to use to share my designs impact the method of implementing radial balance into my work?

2. Designate a focal point

Whenever you want to create a marketing asset with radial balance in mind, you must designate a central point. Choose a focal point in the design you are creating where you would like your viewers to look. This area of your design should include the most important information or information that is most likely to help maintain the attention of the viewer or prospective customer.

3. Place elements with intention

After you have established and designated a focal point of your design, you can begin placing elements with intention. Consider the overall shape, size, and visual "weight" of each element you place to ensure the picture as a whole remains as balanced as possible.

4. Get creative

Even after you have placed the elements you wish to use in your design, there are no limits in terms of how creative you can get. Experiment with moving elements around to find the perfect radial balance based on the compositional balance type you prefer for your new design.

Craft creative assets with Mailchimp

If you are building your website or expanding your online presence, you can create the digital assets you need with the use of Mailchimp.

With Mailchimp, create designs that are not only relevant to your logo and brand aesthetic but ones that also resonate with prospective users or customers due to their radial balance and natural symmetry. With the Mailchimp photo editor, create your own photos, graphics, illustrations, or marketing materials that take radial balance into consideration for beautifully pleasant results.

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