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Layout and composition are the core building blocks of designing graphics. Only a very strong composition will be able to attract attention, impose understanding while engaging viewers into understanding the kind of the project they are viewing, such as screen-based project, motion or still graphics, 2D or 3D graphic. 

If anything plays the most important role in graphic design, it is layout and composition. It is the arrangements of elements on a specific page, better referred to as specific placement of text, style and image. It is mandatory to gain a deeper understanding of the layout design as when not perceived correctly, you can mess up the message you are trying to convey. The prime key to mastering layout and composition is to conceptualize like a designer. It might look easy, however, involves various strict governing rules to be followed. A few graphic design layout principles can help in transforming the work and altering the look and feel of it.

  1. Proximity 

The principle of proximity is the procedure of ensuring that each design element is placed together. Any item which is unrelated needs to be spaced apart from the other. Close proximity entails that items have a relationship with each other and are connected. It also signifies one visual unit that helps in organizing a structure to a layout.

 On the other hand, groups need to be separated in order to emphasize the lack of relationship. In this way, it helps to perceive the design at a glance, irrespective of a text or anything visual. For example, by grouping several images from a store, the relationship is assigned to the entire group as a whole. 

  1. Find your Focus

Just like we have been taught in schools, a focus is equally critical even in graphic designing. You need to find a strong focal point to enable visitors to get attracted to the most important focal point at first. Be very careful while choosing the focal point as whether you are communicating an idea or information, the design is conveying the story. Hence, make sure you choose a focal point that describes the story in the most effective manner. 

For example, for a fashion industry website, the focal point is the clothes and the model wearing it. 

  1. White space 

White space is another essential part of a composition which however has nothing to do with the white space literally, but signifies negative space including the space between the content, lines and outer margins. There are no specific graphic design layout rules for using white space specifically, however, it is recommended that the designer understands its purpose clearly. If you feel that the work starts feeling cluttered, you need a bit of white space to improvise the look and feel. On the contrary, if space has a lot of white space, it means the designer did not know how to organize the graphics well. 

White space is useful for: 

  • Helping the eye to scan a text/design 
  • Increase the readability and legibility 
  • Create a certain aesthetic/mood 

For example, Apple makes use of appropriate white space in their images while highlighting the main focus. 

  1. Hierarchy and scale 

Scale and hierarchy are one of the most significant types of layout in graphic design that can accentuate the look of any design while even breaking it. Hence, it is essential to have a good hold in order to maintain a successful composition. By hierarchy, we can emphasize on an element to be bolder and bigger as the less important element to being smaller. Scale is utilized for helping communicate hierarchy and draw attention toward and away from a few elements. This helps in signifying the importance of communication. 

  1. Alignment 

This is a principle that you always deal with, irrespective of realizing it. Whenever you type a document or create one, the text gets aligned automatically. You need to be consistent in order to align objects by yourself. In order to make things easier for you, imagine putting the content in a grid and it will help arrange things better. Each grouping is placed in an even manner comprising of equal-sized margins. Unless and until these detailing are paid heed to, the composition will not be easier to navigate. 

  1. Balance 

Isn’t everything at layout design all about balance? Designers too need to maintain this same set of balance where different elements are constantly juggled with in order to find the perfect harmony. It can get easier by imagining a set of scales in design and avoid tipping the scales by cloistering elements on one side grid. White space, as mentioned above offers ample space to balance and breathe between negative and positive space in a design. 

For example, a design achieves the perfect balance by distributing equal weight on the left and also on the right. Any image which seems unbalanced can be very well understood simply by viewing the image. 

  1. Contrast 

Contrast signifies that one item needs to be completely different from another. Contrast defining principles of design helps you to achieve many things in layout and composition such as attracting the reader’s eye or building emphasis on a context. It also manages to offer call attention to anything major and significant. 

For example, in a design, instead of using the style of text, try using colours and objects catering to distinct sizes which help in making the image a lot more dynamic. 

  1. Repetition 

Following a certain look and feel is extremely important over a few designs pertaining to the same project. You need to find ways that help in reinforcing the design by echoing and repeating a few elements. Take principles of design examples in consideration such as if you have used a particular header style and keep following it every time and maintain consistency. 


The design principles mentioned above are one of the major considerations of composition and layout. On understanding the rules and structure, it helps in improving and strengthening the designs. 

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Madhurima Sen