Whether you are designing/planning a wedding, painting, creating interior rooms or a landscape, professionals hired to assist with the task, knowing how a great design is developed. Don’t be overwhelmed with this list brides-to-be, only a few are targeted for wedding ceremonies and rehearsal dinners. Choose 3 or 4 and run with it or discuss with your wedding planner. My comments will be added in Dark Blue.
Six Visual Elements
We think of the principles as ways to work with and arrange the elements.
Some Design Principals
or design rules (some creative artists purposely break rules) This list is an example list.
Emphasis – say “Center of Interest.” It is about dominance and influence. Most artists put it a bit off-center and balance it with some minor themes to maintain our interest. Some artists avoid emphasis on purpose. They want all parts of the work to be equally interesting. Brides-this is you, the focal point or emphasis
Harmony – As in music, complementary layers and/or effects can be joined to produce a more attractive whole. The composition is complex, but everything appears to fit with everything else. The whole is better than the sum of its parts.
Unity – When nothing distracts from the whole, you have unity. Unity without variation can be uninteresting – like driving on a clear day through Western Kansas on the interstate. Unity with diversity generally has more to offer in both art and in life. Of course some very minimal art can be very calming and at times even very evocative. Even a simple landscape can have a powerful effect. Centerpieces usually have unity by the objects or material pulling the centerpieces together, like the red petals below
Opposition – uses contrasting visual concepts. That same Western Kansas “big sky” landscape becomes very dramatic and expressive when a storm builds in the southwest. Principles can grow out of any artistic device that is used to produce an effect on the viewer. This is true when most wedding colors are black and white.
Balance is the consideration of visual weight and importance. It is a way to compare the right and left side of a composition.
© marvin bartel
Asymmetrical balance is more interesting. Above both sides are similar in visual weight but not mirrored. It is more casual, dynamic, and relaxed feeling so it is often called informal balance.
Radial balance is not very common in artist’s compositions, but it is like a daisy or sunflower with everything arranged around a center. Rose windows of cathedrals use this design system. Of course a sunflower can have many meanings and feelings beyond its “radiant” feeling. Farmers might hate it as weed cutting into their corn production. On the other hand, many of us can’t help thinking about Vincent Van Gogh’s extraordinarily textured painted sunflowers. Once we have contemplated those thickly expressed colors and textures with their luscious painterly surface, every sunflower we see becomes an aesthetic experience filled with spiritual sensations.
The butterfly below by itself is essentially symmetrical. Both sides are similar in visual weight and almost mirrored. Because symmetrical balance often looks more stiff and formal, sometimes it is called formal balance.
Of course a butterfly, even though it is symmetrical, doesn’t look stiff and formal because we think of fluttering butterflies as metaphors for freedom and spontaneity. It is a case of subject matter and symbolism overpowering formal design effects.
This is a simple diagram of radial balance.
- Variety – You create variety when elements are changed. Repeating a similar shape but changing the size can give variety and unity at the same time. Keeping the same size, but changing the color can also give variety and unity at the same time. In visual composition, there are many ways you can change something while simultaneously keeping it the same.
- Depth – effects of depth, space, projection toward the viewer add interest. Linear perspective in the real world makes things look smaller in the distance. Some artists try to avoid depth by making large things duller and small things brighter, and so on, to make the objects contradict realism. Many artists don’t believe in realism even though they could do it if they wanted to. It seems too boring to them. Realism wouldn’t be art for some artists.
- Repetition – Some ways to use Repetition of the Visual Elements are:
- Size Variation can apply to shape, form, etc. Notice how size can effect how close or far something can appear to be from the viewer.
| – ©marvin bartel
Here the same butterfly is shown twice. Which one appears closer? Note how size relationships create depth or space in a composition. Children in first grade can already recognize closer and farther based on size even though they wouldn’t typically use this in their pictures unless they were motivated to do so.
- Repetition can be used on all of the Visual Elements. If things are repeated without any change they can quickly get boring. However, repetition with variation can be both interesting and comfortably familiar. Repetition gives motion. This principal is almost automatic. Pick something and keep repeating for a dramatic effect, like centerpieces. Variegation comes in where flowers are not arranged symmetrically
- Variation can be used with all of the visual elements. See “Variety” above. You can do this with all the elements. Artists do this all the time. Brides, you can still have repetition, but add a little variation (adds interest and mystery). All the vases below have the repetitive element of the fruit and only the flowers are varied.
|Color saturation, sometimes called “color intensity” or brightness can also give a feeling of depth and space. Which of these butterflies are farther away? Most second graders can see this effect when they are asked to look for it. These butterflies create the illusion of depth even though they are all the same size.
© marvin bartel
|Overlapping is often used by artists to create depth. Young children try to avoid overlapping in their work.
© marvin bartel
Some information is credited to Marvin Bartel
For additional ideas and assistance, please contact DianaDigsDirt (professional landscape designer) specializing in “Green” Wedding Design. Diana @ justacloudaway.com