Symmetry in Design: When to Use It

Symmetry

You probably learned in school that symmetry is where everything is perfectly balanced and equal on 2 sides. When you think about design, can you recall anything that had perfect symmetry? Believe it or not, there are a lot of examples where symmetry is key. Let’s take a look at symmetry and where it is commonly used in design.

Symmetry is often used in emblems, badges, and logos. Anytime you see a circular logo, even when it contains text, it is usually symmetrical. This is key visually in making the text easy to read. If the viewer doesn’t know where to start, they may just give up trying to read it at all.

You’ll also find symmetry in background repeating patterns. They have to be symmetrical in some way, otherwise they wouldn’t line up. This is especially true for any linear pattern you might see.

Symmetry can also be found in websites, in their overall structure. Both Zurb Foundation and Twitter Bootstrap are based on 12 columns. You can mix and match those columns however you’d like, but they always balance out to 12. You can also customize grid, but it’s recommended that you chose an even number, like 24, for the number of columns.

Types of Symmetry

There are different types of symmetry in design, too. You can use these to your advantage to keep everything balanced. Let’s take a look at some examples of the types of symmetry you can expect to encounter.

Radial symmetry example

Rotational Symmetry

Remember the badges and emblems I talked about earlier? They are a type of rotational symmetry. This is especially true if you have objects, like lines or stars spaced evenly within it. They are usually positioned so that they are symmetrical on both sides.

reflection symmetry example

Reflection Symmetry

I use this all the time in Adobe Illustrator. When I am creating something that is oddly shaped, and I want it to remain symmetrical, I use Object, Transform, and then Reflect. When I click copy, I can reflect a copy of the object on a specified axis. That’s a great way to keep things neat and tidy.

translation symetry example

Translational Symmetry

This is where objects repeat in such a way that they create symmetry. This could be a diagonal row of squares. It could¬† also mean a row of windows on a building. One key factor to this is that they don’t all have to be the same size. objects can be symmetrical in perspective, too.

Conclusion

We’ve learned about symmetry and how it applies to the world or design. When you’re working, so you create a lot of symmetrical designs? I’d love to hear what you have to say about symmetry. Please leave your thoughts below.