Make Your Designs Dance
October 12, 2009
Enhance Your Designs with the Principle of Rhythm
Just as in music, a good rhythmic design is very appealing! You feel almost like you can dance to a catalog that has images and key text in predictable places as you flip from page to page and section to section. The design has a visual beat you can follow!
What is Rhythm?
Rhythm is repetition. Rhythm is consistency. Rhythm is an established placement of elements and it brings immense unity to a layout.
Rhythm is used to…
Rhythm and proportion are closely aligned. They are slightly different in that rhythm focuses on the repetitive (in the truest sense of the word, which is not “boring”) aspect of a design. Rhythm also helps to achieve balance and can even contribute to a design’s direction and emphasis.
Repeat specific colors (your palette) throughout the layout. Similar to proportion, seek to use these specific colors more than once, so that they obviously belong in the layout.
Carefully arranged lines add a lot of visual order and emphasize the grid.
Scale can be a subtle way to create rhythm. You can repeat an object but reduce the size each time. This would also help create direction (almost like an arrow pointing from smallest to largest and then onward towards the focal point).
It’s a good idea to repeat obvious shapes and use them to help guide the audience’s eye through a design.
Rhythm can be seen in the element of space when you consider the overall distribution of objects. Using a consistent layout with the help of a structured grid will add
Use a similar texture or pattern to help identify different parts of the design or system.
Just like creating rhythm with color, stay within a set range of values.
Examples of Rhythm
One Degree Logo by Landor
You may have seen the debate over the winning logo from the Wolda awards. Sure, at first glance it may seem overly simplistic and uninspiring, but then you discover how Jason Little from Landor Associates Sydney has employed this little guy all over the One Degree literature and you begin to really appreciate this gem of a mark. Rhythm can be as simple as a repeated graphic. But in its simplicity, this graphic adds a whole dimension of careful, thoughtful planning (hey, that’s design!). Here they also use the blue to add repetition—not to mention it adds to the more environmentally friendly print aspect, only using two colors, black and blue. Hopefully they also used soy inks and recycled papers!
Super Heroes by Pentagram
This is an excellent example of rhythm through repeated shapes. Notice how all the shapes together make a rounded rectangle, but the divided shapes have square corners unless they are one of the corners of the larger rounded rectangle.
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