Types of Balance Art Lesson

Types of Balance Art LessonObjective: Students will learn about the principle of art called balance and how it can be used in an artwork. They will identify, compare & contrast the three main types of balance and be able to recognize each type in a piece of art.


  1. Balance in art is defined as the equal distribution of visual weight in a composition. All the elements (line, shape, color, etc) in that composition look stable or have a feeling of balance (like one side is not heavier than the other).
  2. Balance is one of the principles of design. Understanding and applying knowledge of balance methods are  important parts of creating a good composition. In 2D art, balance refers to how an artist develops a composition through the arrangement or placement of objects or elements on the picture plane. The artist places the elements or objects in a such way to create either a sense of equilibrium. He may intentionally create an unbalanced piece to send a certain message as well.
  3. A Central Axis Line is an imaginary line that divides the composition in half either vertically or horizontally. Objects placed on either side of the axis line can either be repeated exactly the same (Symmetry, Radial) or unequally but with equal visual weight (Asymmetrical).  Central Axis Line Types of Balance
  4. The artist can create interest in a composition depending on how they choose to use balance. Remembering always to incorporate or include the other principles of design (Emphasis, Harmony, Variety, Rhythm, etc) is the key to a successful composition.
  5. There are 3 main types balance:
    1. Symmetrical or Formal Balance: the elements (line, shape, color, etc.) are identical or almost identical on both sides of the axis (easiest balance to achieve and generally feels calmer and more stable)
    2. Asymmetrical or Informal Balance: the elements are not identical on either side of the axis line, yet the overall feeling is still stable (harder to achieve, but visually more interesting)
    3. Radial Balance: the elements radiate out from a central point. Elements are repeated evenly both vertically and horizontally from the axis lines (generally a design is repeated in circle 4+ times)

Symmetrical Balance (Triangle)


Asymmetrical Balance


Radial Balance







Elements of Art Influence on Balance

How do some of the elements of art effect visual balance? When developing your composition, it is VERY important to remember the weight attributes of each element and how they influence weight in visual balance.

  1. Color:
    1. Light colors appear lighter in weight than dark colors. Black and white are the strongest contrast you can have-Black is the heaviest color & white is the lightest color.
    2. Bright colors are visually heavier than dull colors.
    3. Warm colors (Yellow, Orange, Red) visually expand an area in size, whereas cool colors (Blue, Green Purple) tend to contract an area.
    4. Transparent areas visually weigh less than opaque areas.
  2. Shape: Shape size is VERY important to balance…
    1. Individually-small shapes are light, larger shapes are heavier.
    2. A small shape next to a large shape will weigh less than the larger shape.
    3. Grouping a few small shapes together can have equal weight with one larger shape.
    4. Complex geometric shapes (hexagons, trapezoids, etc) weigh more than simple geometric shapes (circle, square, etc)
  3. Line: Light thin lines are lighter, rough thick lines are heavier
  4. Texture: light smooth textures weigh less than dark jagged (lots of pattern) textures
  5. Value: lighter values weigh less than darker values on the value scale

Other things that effect balance weight are: location on the picture plane, contrasting colors together, & line direction

Types of Balance Sketchbook Assignment Types of Balance Sketchbook Assignment Types of Balance Sketchbook Assignment






DAY 1 ACTIVITY: Balance Sketchbook Assignment:

In your sketchbook, draw 3 squares or circles. Use shape templates & rulers to create non-objective design examples of each type of balance (symmetrical, asymmetrical, & radial). Fit ALL on one page. Label & color them with colored pencils or markers.


  1. Open the next clean page in your sketchbook.
  2. Title the Page “Types of Balance” at the top.
  3. Draw 3 Large Boxes (Squares work best for Radial & Symmetrical Balance).
  4. Use Shape templates to create designs that illustrate each type of balance
  5. LABEL each design with the correct type of balance.
  6. Color your design using sharpies, markers or colored pencils.

Next: Types of Balance Cut-Paper Collage Project

Types of Balance Cut-Paper Collage







More Resources on Balance:

Lesson plan written by Michelle C. East, copyright 2015. If you choose to use any of this lesson either written or photos, please link back to this post at Create Art with ME.

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