Friday, January 25, 2013

Focal Point In A Design - Is Dominance At Work?

A work of art is conceived with series of subjects, each one vying for importance. Order in the composition, is dictated to by the designer’s mastery of the element dominance.

Dominance is important. When there is total control of the element dominance, it heightens the drama surrounding the subjects in a composition. Dominance leads to the birth of a focal point in a design. The focal point directs your eye when initially looking at a design. Why your eye is drawn towards the focal point could only be the result of order. Creating the focal point is what designers aim to achieve, and possible only through the application of the element dominance.  Mastery of design ideas and principles plays the catalyst to reach the crescendo.  It is the end-all in a design.
Dominance is complete visual hierarchy. A composition is an idea of multiple subjects grouped together. As in all groups,there must be order or chaos can result. Similar to social order, a single aspect dominates to create order. The head of government dominates over its people, to create opportunities for all. Design similarly is like a government. Each subject is in degrees of dominance to support and not to compete. Hierarchy in design is put in place. Thus, when there is order and hierarchy among subjects a focal point results.
Visual weight in design dictates the degrees of dominance. One way to put order into a design is by assigning visual weight to each subject in a composition. This could be achieved on the: (1) order of size: (2) color: (3) density: (4) value: and (5) the whitespaces infused into a composition.
  • On the order of size: Larger elements will always be dominant. In a global map, China in land mass will carry more weight compared to Malaysia because of its sheer land area.
  • On order of color: The use of color is still shrouded in mystery. It seems that to most, red is observed as more intimidating compared to the others. Yellow is deemed to be more relaxing.
  • On order of density: Packing more elements into a square area will carry more weight. Dominance is more pronounced compared to the same area with lesser elements.
  • On order of value: On the visual perception a darker object will be more dominating compared to a lighter object of the same size.
  • On order of whitespaces added into a composition: White spaces are considered as negatives, while objects in a composition are positives.  Darker objects carry more visual interest than whitespaces.
Contrast as well provides viewers the treat; a brick wall is more interesting than plain concrete.  Not just because of the color but by the contrasting surfaces.

Remember, dominance as part of the principles of design is paramount. Dominance in design simply creates the focal point.

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