■ Proportion is the most important of all the principles. All of the design principles and the design elements are affected by proportion.
■ Here’s the skinny: Proportion is all about the amounts used…of anything. The amounts used of one or several elements (line, shape, color, etc.) in combination with other elements is always controlled by proportional considerations.
■ Balance is about adjusting proportions to achieve equilibrium. Balance is cited when discussing the distribution of visual weight in a composition. “Does it feel balanced?” Typical forms of balancing weight distribution include: symmetrical; asymmetrical; approximately symmetrical and radial.
■ Contrast is the most dynamic expression of comparison. The stronger the contrast, the greater the impression. Think of red vs gray, ultra thin vs thick and wide. Quiet vs chaotic. The contrast of very large vs very small is considered Contrast of Scale.
■ Hierarchy: By adjusting proportions involving balance and contrast, a primary area of interest (called a focal point) as well secondary areas of interest can become established. A well-expressed hierarchy can be helpful in directing viewers where to enter and how to navigate a composition. (Also covered under the Active/Passive definition, listed below.)