Balance refers to how artists organize VISUAL WEIGHT on the page. Visual weight is the STUFF you put in your artwork - all the subject matter, colors, marks, EVERYTHING. So it's important that we pay attention and follow some rules when we're putting all of that "stuff" down on the page. So let's get to it!
First things first, when you look for Balance in artwork, divide the piece in half. Usually left to right, sometimes top and bottom, and every once and a while (when the artist just wants to watch the world burn) on a diagonal.
- Symmetrical balance is when both sides are the SAME.
- If the piece is divided along a center line, the two sides are completely IDENTICAL.
- Asymmetrical balance refers to the image being balanced, but DIFFERENT on both sides of a center line.
- In art, we focus on balancing SOMETHING BIG with SOMETHING SMALL.
- Imagine two cartoon characters on a seesaw, one large (say an elephant) and one small (like say, a mouse) that still balance evenly with each other.
- The brain just likes to look at this kind of difference.
- Approximate balance is when an image is ALMOST the same on both sides of a center line.
- Approximate is tricky, because the differences from side to side are often subtle, or small.
- Sometimes, an Approximately balanced image will actually look Symmetrical, until you closely examine it.
- Radial balance is created when the visual weight of an image balances AROUND a CENTER POINT, not a center line.
- This is different from the other three types.
- Think about a Kaleidoscope, or a pizza or pie (mmm, pie...) and how everything - either the pretty colors, or the delicious slices - rotate and balance around a middle point.
- Also, Radial balance can form a spiral to give a sense of "whirling" or spinning to the piece.