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What are the Design Principles?

Design principles are a set of fundamental guidelines for creating attractive compositions. Designers and creative teams use these principles to help make important decisions regarding branding, imagery, websites, content, marketing, advertising and more. Learn more about key design principles to help you grasp the basics of design.


Make sure you have a strong colour palette. Use an effective way of figuring out where you want the design to go. Psychology and symbolism can be used to convey your message in your design. Therefore, use your research to come up with a bold and essential palette. 

For example, choose twenty pictures from your holiday, use a colour picker app, upload them and play around. Start with the first colour that you think represents the look and feel, then use the colour picker to generate the rest of the four colours. Remember to factor in shadowing and highlighting if necessary. Look around you, colour is everywhere.


When considering what elements go where it’s essential to ask yourself what am I trying to say? An image isn’t just a moment that has been captured. It’s a story. Think of it just as they do in motion graphics.


  • Keep things simple, but not minimal. Sometimes making something really obvious will contribute to well-balanced graphics. 
  • Use rotation and symmetry together, also factor in whitespace.
  • Create movement in your artwork, draw their eyes to where you want them to look. 
  • The rule of thirds can really help you take your work that final step forward. It will be easier to determine a focal point.



There is no definitive answer to which font or typeface to use when designing but there are a few guides out there to inspire you on pairing fonts to accompany your digital creations. One thing is for certain, try and avoid using default fonts, they are overused and will taint your design. Pay close attention to the following: 

  • Line length - It’s the width of a line of text on a single line. Should be less than 13 words.
  • Line spacing -  It’s known as an increase in the line spacing to improve readability.
  • Line breaks -  Get rid of them. Hyphenation is the demon of all words.
  • Punctuation - Yes, this still matters when designing. 

Negative Space

Negative space can have a great impact on telling stories. You can potentially isolate text and images to work in conjunction with each other. What you don’t want to do is clutter the work area with too much of everything, which can lead to confusion and your audience becoming disengaged. The aim is to try and split the image and text or even bind them together somehow.



An unbalanced composition can lead to confusion and tension between you and your audience. In order to balance your design, it involves a mixture of negative space and symmetry or asymmetry. There are three types of symmetry:

  • Bilateral Symmetry - The perfect mirror image of an object around the centre axis.
  • Radial Symmetry -  When everything rotates seamlessly around a common centre. For example, flowers like the sunflower are known to have radial symmetry.
  • Crystallographic Symmetry - Mostly used on wrapping paper designs or even perfectly constructed scaffolding. It usually occurs when something is repeated constantly along a line, in any direction. For instance, soundwaves with the perfect pitch.

Gestalt Theory

Gestalt, an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts, which basically means the unification of pattern, figure, structure and form. Gestalt Principles have a few uses and one thing it points out is to use symmetry to reach the mind of the audience to further a connection with empathy. Please feel free to read more about Gestalt Psychology.


By combining colour, negative space, symmetry and typography you could end up with amazing compositions. If you want to create beautiful artwork and graphics and learn more about the design principles, we recommend taking our Graphic Design Intro course.

by Cristina Moraru | 08 Jan 21

3 Interesting Courses For You

Graphic Design Intro
  • To think like a designer
    Improve your visual skills
    Typography and colour theory
    To use brand guidelines
    Plan your projects successfully
InDesign Intro          
  • Create documents from scratch
    Integrate graphics, images and text
    Work with multiple pages
    Optimise work for print and web
    Tips, shortcuts and good practice
Photoshop Intro
  • Photoshop's interface and workflow
    How to work with Layers
    Tone and colour correction
    Image retouching techniques
    Filters to add special effects