Join Sue Jenkins for an in-depth discussion in this video Applying background patterns to create harmony, part of Design Aesthetics for Web Design (2013).
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As you discovered in an earlier lesson, unity, or harmony in a design happens when all the visual elements are creatively and satisfyingly integrated into a unified whole. One way to build harmony in a design is to work with pattern, which is the fifth principle of design. Pattern offers you a way to keep your design organized while also providing a really nice sense of harmony through the use of repeating elements. There are many ways to use pattern in a design. For instance, pattern can be employed by creating elements that are the same size, like thumbnail graphics on a gallery page.
And then ensuring that they're evenly spaced apart, perhaps using and underlying grid system for organization. So you could create a layer like this and then just make sure that your elements span the desired number of columns. You can also use pattern in the form of repeating shapes. So, for instance, maybe I want to have circles for my thumbnails instead. Pattern can also be applied as decorative elements, like I just added this decorative element in the header and right above the footer there. You can also create pattern by applying the similar color scheme throughout your entire layout.
Most often, when people think about pattern, they think about background patterns like a wallpaper. With the magic of cascading stylesheets, you can apply background patterns to actually as many elements on a web page as you like. So here's a very busy decorative pattern. You can also do something like stripes. Just a single tiling background graphic will repeat endlessly to fill up the browser menu. When adding the patterns to your background, you would apply the style to the body tag of your page. But, that doesn't mean you have to stop there, you could also have the pattern applied to the wrapper, the containing element that holds your design in place within the center of the layout if that's the way you've created your design.
In addition, I'm going to hide the background here. In addition you could also create patterns for certain elements. Like I've done here with this little dotted background on these two sidebar boxes, or this one larger box. What's really great about working with patterns, is that your patterns don't have to be super loud or super fancy to creat a sense of harmony. Rather less is more, a subtle hint of design that can add a great amount of order and unity. So these little samples here, there's not much to them.
They're very simple, elegant patterns. The bottom row, of course, is a little more complex but still within the same color scheme. So simply applying a subtle amount of pattern here and there can help provide that unity. To get free background patterns for your non-commercial web projects you can visit several sites online. Here's a short list of some sites you might want to check out. You can also create your own patterns by scanning fabrics or other materials into your computer, or even by drawing your own designs in a programmer like Illustrator or Photoshop and then converting them into digital patterns to use in your web mockups.
Patterns come in so many forms including repeating flourishes, graphic elements, shapes and colors. Creatively apply them in your web designs to add visual cohesion and build harmony.
- Understanding aesthetics
- Picking harmonious colors
- Structuring your layout
- Using space to organize your design
- Communicating with the right fonts
- Aligning objects to achieve balance
- Adding movement with scrolling and animation
- Achieving proportion by scaling objects and text
- Creating CSS for different devices