Principles of Design – Part VI: Unity and Harmony

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Wrapping up our Design Series and bringing it all together.

The last principle is kind of a cheat. It’s the over arching concept behind this whole series. So far we have talked about how to create balance in your layouts, how to move people across your page by creating rhythm, how to draw your viewers eyes to one particular aspect of your page with emphasis, how to make sure the proportions of your layouts are kept balanced, and how to play with scale to keep things interesting on your layouts. I assigned you homework and then tackled it myself – just to show you it can be done! I’ve still got my layout with large scale pattern to make, but I showed you how I chose the papers I wanted to work with and then used them to create a layout with a small scale pattern in the background, and one with a medium scale patterned background.

Today I have a whoppingly long video to share to demonstrate our last design principle.

Principle #6 – Unity and Harmony

Unity is primarily defined as oneness, or the totality of related parts. Having unifying elements in your designs helps things from feeling chaotic or haphazard. You don’t want people thinking your page looks like you just slapped a bunch of photos, stickers, and papers down, threw on a title and called it done, do you? You want someone who is flipping through your albums to look at each page as a complete unit. A whole story if you will. It may be part of a larger story but each page should be able to stand on its own.

Unity is most fundamentally achieved by the repetition of elements such as colour, shape, pattern, or texture. When a composition “comes together” – from a correct combination and balance of unity and variety – it is considered harmonious. Harmony provides a sense of belonging. It is the basic principle that holds the other components of the design together.

So you see, it’s very hard to talk about one element of design without talking about the whole – about it’s unity.

Let’s see this in action by looking at all the layouts I shared in the previous Design Principles posts.

Told you it was a long video!

To Recap:

Unity is what makes a design feel whole. It’s all the parts coming together to form a complete picture.

Here are five simple ways to create unity and harmony in your layouts.

  • Keep all your elements touching one another. If you have multiple pieces of patterned paper underneath your photos, for example, overlap them so you can see all the patterns but they read as one block of colour and pattern.
  • Frame your layout. This can be achieved by using two pieces of paper as your background – one is kept the full 12×12″ and the other is cut down to show a 1/4″ or 1/2″ border of the paper underneath. A hand drawn border also gives this same look if you are wanting a more organic feel to your layout. Or try stitching a border, either by hand or with a machine.
  • Use repeated elements such as identical embellishments to visually frame the most important parts of your layout.
  • Repeat papers from one side of a double layout to the other. Have some cross the divide between pages so that even once they are in your albums the pages will still read as one design.
  • Repeat motifs in your embellishment areas. If you’ve punched out a butterfly for one embellishment, be sure to punch enough to add to each embellishment area on the page. An easy finishing touch for your pages is to add small things like enamel dots, gems or sequins. Use them to pull seemingly disparate embellishments together.

Thank you for hanging with me while we talk about design. I hope you have learned something new through all this. Please tell me what that is in the comments below.

Okay, I think that’s enough talking for one day. It’s (Inter)National Scrapbook Day today so go out and make something!!

Happy Scrapping Everyone!

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1 Response to Principles of Design – Part VI: Unity and Harmony

  1. I love the six leading of principles in scrapbooking…. But I think I would have to take a class to understand all this…. Very interesting! Thanks!

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