seesawwithkids wb 300x120 More Information About Balance and Symmetry in ScrapbookingEach of us uses balance every day in our lives. We need balance to walk or even stand up–physical balance; or functionality to balance our checkbooks. We even try our best to balance our lives between family, work, recreation, hobbies, religious participation, etc.

Because scrapbooking is a visual activity, balance and symmetry are essential and the KEY to making a page look pleasing and functional. Balance in our scrapbook composition can be created with using different colors, sizes, material, shapes, etc. How you use each of these elements, which you control, is what creates the VISUAL INTEREST.

We often refer to balance as reaching some “equilibrium.” We try not to call more attention to one element of our page at the expense of the others–we try to establish some measure of unity.

We will further define the two elements we use to try to reach our level of balance: SYMMETRY and ASYMMETRY.


(Formal Balance)

Symmetry is derived from the Greek roots: syn, meaning with or together, and metron, meaning measure. Symmetrical balance is referred to as “formal balance.”

We view and think of Symmetry as being equal on both sides of a central axis, or a mirror image of one side to the other–like wings of an airplane. Even we as humans are symmetrical: two feet, two legs, two arms, etc. It tends to be the dominant concept when we try to arrange our scrapbook pages.

Symmetrical Balance:

Requires a vertical axis to divide our view . . . with that mirror image to guide our focus. When we follow this concept we get right and left balance.

Top and bottom balance are also important, and in some instances is the focus of our design–rather than right to left. An example of top to bottom balance would be a playing card (like the King of Hearts). We call this “Inverted Symmetry.” Be careful when using inverted symmetry because it can look and feel awkward.

shells09 More Information About Balance and Symmetry in ScrapbookingSometimes balance is directed from the center outward, like in the scallop shell, but is seldom used, and not recommended for scrapbooking . . . painting would be a better medium for this function.

Biaxial Symmetry usually has more than one axis of symmetry. In Biaxial Symmetry you would divide a scrapbook page into four equal sections with an axis running midway vertically and horizontally. Each section would have equal weight in the visual look to your page. There are other forms of symmetry (Radial Symmetry) but it serves little or no useful purpose in creating pleasing and easy to view scrapbook pages. If used, it would only be for a challenge–thus there is not discussion of it here.

While we talk about symmetry as being a mirror image of two halves, in real life this seldom happens perfectly–even though we may visually look at things that way. Look at a leaf. Our initial impression would be that it is symmetrical. Fold it in half down the center vein, and you will see that while very similar they are not mirror images. This should tell you that symmetry is important, but exactness is not what you should work to accomplish. In scrapbooking, being very close–to the extent that it looks reasonably even to our naked eye–will suffice. When the sides become too different, we have lost our balance and symmetry.

leaf More Information About Balance and Symmetry in ScrapbookingASYMMETRY

(Informal Balance)

Asymmetrical: means without symmetry . . . there are no mirror image. Because there is no established or simple formula for directing or creating asymmetrical balance the designer is left to structure or make sense of the balance being presented. We tend not to use this form of balance because of its lack of defined structure, but it has its place. Sometimes we don’t want that “formal” look. It can feel too starchy . . . some random chaos may be more suited to a particular page. When you decide this is the form of balance you want to use, pay attention to the flow of your page visually. Does your eye tend to move about the page–discovering all of the elements, or does it get pulled back to one area? If you have a comfortable wandering eye about the page, you probably have achieved the optimum asymmetrical balance. The suggestion here is to use it sparingly.

When using this balance form, randomly scatter elements of equal interest about your page. You have created unity, and the eye has ease in moving about your page. You could consider it like dropping confetti–not every piece falls in the same place, but each piece has an equal value. The problem with this process is that if you create too much equality and uniformity it lessens the variety, and the layout can then look boring and uninteresting.

Because there are no rules, defined guidelines or limits for using asymmetrical balance, you can easily get carried away. Always be aware of the use of size, color, shape and placement of items on your page. As noted above, it can be functional if not overdone. Some artisans like this form because of the freedom from “rules.” This can lead to a lack of organization, so you need to be sensitive to this pitfall. Good careful, organized placement of photos, embellishments, journaling, colors, etc. can be very effective.

Rule for using Asymetrical Balance: “Keep it Simple Stupid” (KISS).  “Less is always better.”

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Ron on January 1st, 2009 | File Under Design | No Comments -