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Balance Balance refers to the distribution of visual weight in a work of art In painting it is the visual equilibrium of the elements that causes the total image to appear balanced Balance can be symmetrical also referred to as formal and asymmetrical balance also called informal balance Balance is usually a desirable characteristic of a composition However deliberately throwing off the balance of a piece in order to call more attention to some aspect of an image is at times desirable For this reason it is also necessary to discuss the concept of imbalance Symmetrical balance is a type of visual balance where the overall composition is arranged to look like it is the same on both sides of the center of the design In other words it is a design which could be folded in half and as the design folds each part of the design would match up with its symmetrical counterpart on the opposite side of the center Symmetrical balance is easiest to see in perfectly centered compositions or those with mirror images When elements on both sides of a central horizontal or vertical line appear to be about equal in shape weight value and color the design is in symmetrical balance In a design with only two elements they would be almost identical or have nearly the same visual mass Symmetrical balance produces paintings that are restful calming and visually stable An excellent example of symmetrical balance is Leonardo Da Vincis Proportion of the Human Figure Fig 1 This rather hopeful drawing illustrates that the human body can be vertically divided down the middle and the left and the right sides will correspond When the sides of a piece match exactly as Da Vinci would have us believe it is referred to as pure or formal symmetry Fichner-Rathus Another type of balance is called asymmetrical balance In this case balance is achieved by arranging related or unrelated objects of differing
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