A1 Proportion: Harmony, Balance, Contrast & Weight

Proportion is all about the amounts used of anything. Harmony is a state of cohesive balance in which similarities are achievable despite contrasts or variances. A harmonious musical chord will have a structure composed of various notes, yet will blend together the instant it is heard. Balance is all about achieving an equilibrium. Three factors control balance: size, value (or color), and location. Some might add a fourth: shape, since some shapes are more attention-grabbing than others. Contrast is the most dynamic expression of proportion. Visual weight refers to the lightness or heaviness of an item as well as the item’s hierarchal or relative importance within a composition.

Balanced contrast is a state in which diverse elements have combined in ways to create a harmony. Not all art strives to find it, but being able to make the necessary adjustments is a measure of craft unto itself. Here are a few examples with descriptions added below:
















 Cielito Lindo expresses a visual balance between the geometric (rectangle) and the organic (angel) by managing the amount of one versus the other; Broad to Disney juxtaposes details of two adjacent buildings – a mass of swooping, curved and darkly diagonal shapes against a brightly illuminated diagonal area in the visual center; ■ Wabi Sabi Plus Flower balances the amounts used of decayed wood against a partial reveal of bright yellow roses; ■ Rose Parade 2023 balances a bright red rose against a more generously displayed palm tree. Though the rose becomes a focal point, the importance of the tree balances out the overall narrative or concept; ■ Branching Ballet finds balance between the figure and the branching area by dialing down the color and saturation of the latter; ■ Dimitri’s Bakery is an homage to Piet Mondrian, a Dutch 20th century modernist who used grids, colors and solid shapes to achieve compositions of precise, asymmetric balance. Continue on to the next module and dive into the exercise.

Proportion 1: It’s all about the amounts used

Back to: Exercises in Unity & Composition > A_ PROPORTION