Join Sean Adams for an in-depth discussion in this video Using scale to create drama, part of Graphic Design Foundations: Layout and Composition.
Any layout, whether traditional or avant-garde, needs to be dynamic. In addition to principles such as balance, tension and contrast, dynamic scale can change a layout from mediocre to commanding. Scale, in the context of composition and layout, is the size of the elements and their relationship to each other. Dull layouts consist of many elements that all seem to have the same uniform size. The images are the same size as the text blocks, that are the same size as the graphic shapes, there is no sense of priority.
Consequently, the page becomes a bland and gray field. A contrast in scale between a very large image and a very small image creates a dynamic relationship. A large element will seem larger next to the smaller one. I'm always striving to create a design that isn't expected. It's too easy to fall into a pattern of reality. An elephant is large, so it should be large on the page. A mouse is small, and should be small on the page.
But the layout is my world. I can make the mouse huge in the foreground and the elephant in the distance small. This creates an unexpected question the viewer must answer. And if I can create a situation that involves the viewer more intimately with a piece, I'm succeeding. Just like working with contrast, when dealing with scale, think big. Rather than scaling an imagine 110% enlarge it 300%, make it huge, or shrink it so tiny that I need glasses to see it.
A good rule in any part of the creative process is to not edit yourself. If you don't allow yourself the freedom to try something, and think, boy, that won't work, you stop any opportunities that come with exploration. The worst that can happen if you try playing with huge scale shifts is that you won't like the result. So don't use it. There is no Roman god of scale watching and keeping score. Remember, the goal is to create a dynamic solution that is unexpected and incredible, that can't happen with uniform and timid.
- What makes a successful layout?
- Layout elements: shape, line, color, texture, type, and space
- Using balance and tension to create a dynamic layout
- Adding drama with contrast and scale
- Working with proportions: golden section, rule of thirds, etc.
- Creating the right grid for your design
- Choosing simplicity or excess
- Adding an element of surprise
- Making images and typography work together