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236: II'nMI. Visual Design: Layout. Using Pixels to Communicate. EBU Emphasis Focal point (where to look first) Hierarchy of interest Balance Equilibrium of elements Unity Harmony among all elements Working together as a whole. Emphasis.

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236 ii nmi
236: II'nMI

  • Visual Design: Layout

Using pixels to communicate
Using Pixels to Communicate



Focal point (where to look first)Hierarchy of interest


  • Equilibrium of elements


    Harmony among all elementsWorking together as a whole


  • Yeah, sure, emphasize by contrasting hue, size, value, shape, proximity/isolation etc. But what about ...

    Emphasis by Placement?

    Hot spots in visual compositions:

  • Top left for western readers in a textish context

  • Center (can have stasis/balance issues)

  • Rule of Thirds

    Emphasis by Direction?

    Use the Gestalt Continuance principle

    Emphasis by Cognitive Relevance?

    Face (esp. eyes), your name, current preoccupation

Unite (1971,Barbara Jones-Hogu)

No emphasis no differentiation all dull flat texture
No emphasis?No differentiation.All dull flat texture.



Other ways to emphasize visual elements ... ?

Besides: placement, direction, cognitive relevance.


  • Use symmetry sparingly!

  • It can work for or against you:

  • It can weaken the dynamic motion in an image

  • Being compellinglyoff-balance keeps viewers engaged

  • It can formalize the image, add power to it

  • Think: Stanley Kubrick, Tibetan sand mandalas, wedding invitations

  • Use grids liberally!

  • They can help lots with alignment/continuance, as well as proportion, all key for achieving balance.

  • Grid

  • Result

Balance equations
Balance equations


  • Unity is one of the primary goals in visual design

  • It's the U of EBU (Emphasis, Balance, Unity)

  • A visual design exhibits unity when:

  • All its various elements feel like they belongthere.

  • To paraphrase Jonathan Ive: When the design seems so perfectly apt that it seems inevitable. Why would anyone design it any other way?

  • Things that help infuse a design with unity:

  • Consistency (visual and conceptual)

  • Continuity

  • Simplicity, restraint, minimalism

  • Emphasis, balance, and dominance

  • Following your beloved Gestalt principles