What is Symmetrical Balance in art? Examples and why it’s important

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Do you want to learn what is symmetrical balance in art? You might not realize it at first glance but nearly every piece of artwork has some form of symmetry within its composition.

Whether it’s an image with two halves that mirror each other or an architectural structure with identical windows on both sides, symmetry plays a big role in creating visually appealing images and designs.

This article will give you all the tools necessary to start using symmetrical balance in your own work today!

Keep reading so we can show you what makes this article different and learn what balance is, how symmetry is related to composition, how you can create balance in art plus some valuable tips on creating your own balanced art with lots of examples.

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What is symmetrical balance in art

Symmetrical balance is a fundamental principle of art and design, and it can be found everywhere from art to design to architecture. It’s the perfect way for artists and designers alike to create beautiful compositions that are balanced and pleasing to the eye.

If you’re looking for inspiration or just curious about how symmetry works, this article will help you understand everything there is to know about symmetrical balance in art.

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“Dynamic Symmetry: The Foundation of Masterful Art” by Tavis Leaf Glover

What does symmetry in art mean?

In art, “Symmetry” means that one side of the picture looks like the other side. Symmetrical balance is pleasing because it replicates itself in all directions to make an even, symmetrical whole. What does symmetry art look like?

You can easily see symmetrical balance in traditional paintings, including landscapes and still lifes.

If you look at the example below, if you were to draw a line in the middle of the painting and then compare the two halves, you would see that there would be symmetrical balance as both sides would look almost identical.

What is Symmetrical balance in art
“The Delivery of the Keys to Saint Peter” Fresco by Pietro Perugino

Why is symmetry important in art?

Symmetry plays a crucial role in our lives because we are very good at recognizing patterns—so good that we can find patterns even when they’re not really there!

That tendency works to the advantage of artists who use symmetrical composition deliberately to create beauty or suspense or just to organize complicated shapes into simple forms that seem easy for your eyes to follow around the drawing.

When things are not in symmetry in art, the artwork or subject matter starts to look a little ‘off’. It is the main reason why most portraits fail or why many artworks are actually disliked by viewers. It gives you that feeling that something is just not right with the artwork.

When you get that feeling with your own artwork then chances are you messed up the symmetry and you should look at fixing it.

What does balance mean in art?

When you look at any artwork, what makes it visually appealing to your eyes? What makes us want to take another look at an artwork or photograph more than once?

What factors trigger our visual senses and make us view a piece of art as something special or unique.

Balance. Without it, no piece of work can be considered pleasing to the eye.

No matter how good the lines are drawn or the colors used to make you feel comforted, no matter how deep the meaning behind a composition may be, without balance then it won’t have that extra something that makes us think that the artwork is pleasing to the eye.

Not everything that has symmetry has balance though. Balance can be achieved without symmetry by using color, tone, shade, shapes that help balance one half of an artwork with the other.

Think of it as a physical weight. Darker colors tend to appear heavier than lighter ones.

When one side of an artwork is predominantly a darker color or has larger shapes then the balance can be out.

You can re-balance the artwork by adding other shapes or colors among some of the techniques available.

Balance is classified into three types: symmetric, asymmetric, and radial. 

Artworks that are symmetric and radially balanced utilize formal balance.

Asymmetric balance is quite different and is also referred to as informal balance.

Last Supper Symmetrical Balance 1
Another example of balance in art – The Last Supper by Da Vinci

How do I create balance in art?

The balance of composition is influenced by four factors. Following are some of the more important factors to consider as you pursue balance in your artwork. As this is a high-level explanation, you can use these points as a jumping-off point for further study.

Size

As stated earlier, bigger objects appear heavier than smaller objects even if there is no physical weight, this is a trick our brain plays on us. When two objects of different sizes must be balanced, the one with less visual weight will need to have weight added to it, this can be done using color, making it darker, or even using heavier and thicker lines.

Color

Dull and darker colors are heavier in appearance than bright ones. If you find that your image does not appear balanced, experiment with using different shades of the same color or apply a contrasting color and see if you like the results.

Position

Our real-world experiences with weight and physics influence our two-dimensional arrangement of visual elements. If for example, we draw two spheres of the same size on the opposite ends of a scale, they will appear balanced.

If we draw the same two spheres but one is closer to the center of the scale, then the image will not appear balanced.

In the example above we can achieve balance by making the sphere we moved closer to the center larger or darker – giving it more weight in our minds. And everything should appear normal.

Texture and Pattern in Art

What is the difference between texture and pattern in art? Texture and pattern in art can appear to be the same thing but both create different visual effects that can affect balance.

A pattern is a recurring visual element, such as plaid or stripes, whereas texture may be sensed, such as the surface of a brick or a piece of sandpaper.

Textures and patterns provide visual weight. You can change the balance of forces in art by adding different textures or patterns. When you combine or add just one pattern or texture to your image, you can create balance. Do not overdo it with mixing up too many types of textures and patterns as then it can make your artwork look busy and harder on the eyes, which is even worse than having a lack of balance or symmetry.

Why are people drawn to symmetry in artwork?

What is it about symmetry that has an impact on people? Symmetry give people a level of comfort that something is in order.

A characteristic inherent in symmetrical balance is orderliness when an image appears ordered then it’s because it follows an accurate system of scientific or mathematical laws, which by the way is called symmetry.

What this means is that symmetrical balance shows us structure and orderliness since everything has its place.

It means that there’s a sense of uniformity where every element in the picture all follow or correspond with one another so as not to interrupt your vision seeing these images as whole compositions rather than fragmented elements put together.

Symmetry works by showing how structured shapes are organized into balanced patterns which visually communicate compositional organization and orderliness.

Symmetry can be found everywhere but what you must know about it is how important it is for an artist no matter if he creates two-dimensional or three-dimensional art.

How do Symmetry and composition fit together?

Art will always be art; it’s the one common thing that people will never stop creating because of its importance as a part of life. What changes is how we see and understand what makes up a particular work of art so if you ask yourself What is symmetry in art, the answer is simple: it has to do with composition.

Symmetry deals with composition which deals with objects being arranged or positioned in relation to each other either close together or far apart, etc.

Composition also deals with all elements within an image such as lines, color, shape, and texture. What does symmetry do? It creates balance within these compositions resulting in beautiful designs that are pleasing to look at because everything complements each other forming patterns that have familiar feel to them.

Why do artists use symmetry in their work?

Artists use symmetry in their work because it’s beautiful to look at. It’s also calming and soothing, but most importantly symmetrical art works well with the brain because what the eyes see matches up with what the brain remembers. What does this mean? When we look at an image that has symmetry in it, our brain automatically finds patterns and familiar sights that it can relate to. This familiarity helps us stay relaxed and calm when looking at such images.

Where symmetry is found within artwork is all over the place! Most of you probably wouldn’t even notice where symmetrical balance was being used unless there were no patterns or familiar sights anywhere on the canvas or paper.

Even those of us who are trained to use symmetry and balance do not actually seek it out when we are looking at our favorite artworks but it is something that is there at the back of our minds playing its part.

What is Asymmetrical Balance?

On the flip side of symmetrical balance in art is asymmetrical balance. Asymmetrical balance is when the weight on one side of an image or composition is not equal to the weight on the other. What this does is add tension and interest to an image as our eyes move around trying to find the point of equilibrium.

It should be noted that asymmetrical balance is not a bad thing, in-fact it can often be more interesting as not everyone needs to see two halves that are mirror images of each other.

Dali asymmetrical balance 1
‘The Persistence of Time’ by Dali. An example of asymmetrical artwork that is balanced by the use of darker shadows and cliff face on the right as a counterweight to the tree and watches on the left.

Tips for creating your own piece of artwork that has symmetrical balance:

Here are some tips for creating symmetrical balance in art.

  1. Look at your artwork or design using a mirror. The mirror has an uncanny ability to show all the problems with balance and symmetry. Your brain will tell you if something is off with symmetry or balance.
  2. Create an imaginary center line that divides your composition in two. When everything on one side of the line is balanced with everything on the other side, then you have a symmetrical balance.
  3. Make sure all elements in your artwork are the same size and weight. This includes both lines and shapes, as well as any type or size of font you may be using. This does not mean that have to measure the same size but you need to balance one side with an equal amount of weight using colors, shapes, or lines.
  4. Use a grid to help you create accurate symmetry in your artwork or design. Grids can be very helpful for artists and designers who struggle with creating perfect symmetry.
  5. Don’t worry if your artwork is asymmetrical, if you aren’t looking for perfect symmetry you can still achieve balance using the techniques we discussed earlier.

What is Symmetrical Balance in art – wrap up!

As you can see, there are many ways to create symmetrical balance in art. You may want to experiment with different techniques and find what works best for your style of art. Balance is all about finding the right mix between symmetry and asymmetry that complements both composition and subject matter. Try out these methods to make sure your artwork has a sense of harmony!

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out via the Contact Us or via Instagram.

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