Archived copy for reference only


Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

Graphic Design Exercises
Design Principles: Balance

(Archived from 2019)


To learn design principles through exploration and experimentation. To learn visual grammar by making abstract compositions. To practice thumbnail sketching. To be introduced to Adobe Illustrator's tools.


Balance is the third of six critical design principles designers use every day. There are four ways to create balance: symmetrical, asymmetrical, random and mathematical (also known as "the grid"). These four systems of creating balance work only if they are used independent of each other (in other words, you can't really mix and match these systems). In fact, these four systems work so well, designers sometimes refer to these four ways of creating balance as "systems of visual organization." Balance implies stability, harmony, perhaps even gracefulness. When things are in balance (i.e. your checkbook), everything is at peace. Unbalanced visuals have tension, seem uncomfortable, annoying, perhaps even clumsy. Achieving visual balance is important because in mass media, it is unlikely that clients would want to present an awkward or clumsy image.

Note: For the purposes of this class, "radial" balance can be thought of as a specific type of symmetrical balance. And although some artists think of the grid as a way to unify visual elements, others prefer to think of the grid as another way to organize information.


Part A (Preliminary Studies)

  1. download starter files, examine files, read directions
  2. using Adobe Illustrator, develop your concepts in the boxes provided
  3. in your assigned teams, critique each other's work on screen
  4. based on the critique above, make adjustments (if needed)
  5. add your name to the file, then print your studies for your Process Book

Part B (Best Solutions)

  1. using Adobe Illustrator, execute your best solutions in the boxes provided
  2. have your instructor critique your work on screen
  3. based on the critique above, make adjustments (if needed)
  4. submit b&w laser proofs with your name on it for grading
  5. file graded proof in your Process Book for midterm/final review
  6. also save a PDF of your exercise (smallest file size) and publish it as a link on your Process Page

Adobe tips:

  • shift: constrains (drawing, scaling, moving or copying)
  • shift+click: adds/subtracts object to current selection
  • opt+drag: duplicates objects
  • space = hand
  • space+cmd = zoom in
  • space+cmd+opt = zoom out
  • cmd+zero = fit in window
  • the view menu offers other hotkeys

Last updated: 5/7/21