Design Focus Friday – Harmony and Unity

 This month on Design Focus Fridays I will be discussing the principles of harmony and unity.

Unity is the presentation of an image that is integrated; an agreement exists between the various elements and they look as if they belong together. Another term for this is harmony. If the various elements are not harmonious, if they appear separate or unrelated, your design is not cohesive and lacks unity. An important aspect of unity is that the whole of the design should be dominant – you should see the whole before seeing the individual parts. Creating visual unity is made easier by the fact that the viewer is looking for some sort of organization, something to relate the elements. Viewers tend to group objects that are close into one unit; negative spaces will also be organized. Objects of similar shapes will be grouped together by the viewer’s brain. Our brain looks for similar elements, and when these elements are recognized, we will see a cohesive design.


Unity can be achieved by the following methods:

  • Proximity – put the elements close together
  • Repetition – repeat various parts of the design to relate the parts to each other
  • Continuation – continue an element from one form or another to draw the eye
  • Continuity – the planned arrangement of various forms so that their edges are lined up i.e. using a grid to create serial designs

However, you don’t want too much unity as it can be boring. Thus you must consider adding variety. Shapes may repeat, but perhaps in different sizes; colors may repeat, but in different values.

Questions to get you started:
Can you produce a design that is only of one subject repeated many times? How do you keep this design from becoming boring?
Practice making small compositions with a variety of geometrical shapes. How do the elements look scattered randomly across the surface? What happens when you move the items into groups that are close together or overlapping? What does your design look like with similar shapes repeating in a pattern? How can you move the viewer’s eye from one shape to the next? If you use a grid as your format, how does this affect the design?
I’d love to hear how you are using the principles of harmony and unity in your  work. Leave a comment or a link and thanks for visiting!

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