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The tenth principal of design is called gradation which explores the concept of steps or stages in a design. When applied thoughtfully gradation can add a wonderful yet subtle sense of movement and interest to your designs. To put it simply, gradation in design refers to any gradual change that occurs by a series of steps, degrees or stages, where there's an obvious visual shift from one state to another. Gradation is most apparent when you shift your design's elements in size and color.
However, you can also add gradation to value. Direction, line, shape, and even texture. Let me show you what I mean. Gradation in color happens when you shift from one hue to another. For instance, you could apply a gradient blend from warm to cool to the background or header area of your page, like this. This can create a nice aerial perspective and give the visitor a visual path to follow from top to bottom. Similarly, when you shift an elements color from light to dark or dark to light you create a sort of invisible line for the eye to follow down or across the page.
This technique is also useful on buttons and navigation menus. When you apply gradation to direction, you get a gradual change in linear perspective. This movement can go in any direction. Such as vertical to horizontal, horizontal to vertical or horizontal to diagonal. You can even show direction using curved or wavy lines, angled perspectives like the side of a building or a path that cuts across your design in some fashion. When it comes to using line, gradation can show a gradual change from curve to angled, parallel to perpendicular, vertical to horizontal, or something like a series of diagonals.
Also think about long to short and thick to thin type of graduated changes. All of these types of gradation. Can add a lot of interest and movement within your design. Shape gradation is a more obvious way to add interest and movement. For instance, you can show a shift in shape from angular to round. Or have one amorphic shape shift into another amorphic shape. With gradation in size, you can shrink and grow objects in your design whether they are integral to the content or purely decorative in nature.
This can help create a nice, linear perspective or flow within your layout. Lastly, you can add gradations to your designs with texture to help build mass and structure. For example, you could apply textured background. To the side of an object and inhabit fade from top to bottom or bottom to top, in such a way that the darker area is on one end and the lighter area is on the other. This will often help it seem more grounded in two-dimensional space.
You can also apply texture to your fonts, such as adding a high-gloss effect like the text shown here. And when thinking of texture with gradation. Think of contrast, such as rough to smooth, fibrous to chalky. Prickly to spongy, or granular to liquid. Remember, one of the main benefits of using gradation is that it draws the eye in, and creates a sense of movement. In that a gradual change builds a path that the eye can easily follow. Use these concepts to help you apply gradation to your designs in new and interesting ways.
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