6 Basic Graphic Design Principles


Learning and following a few basic design principles is the best way to instantly improve your designs. Most of the top designers in the world follow these rules – and that is why they’re the best! They also know how to break the rules, which is something you’ll be able to do successfully once you’ve mastered how to follow them.



Balance is the equal distribution of visual weight in a design. A large shape close to the center can be balanced by a small shape close to the edge. This provides stability and structure to the design. If the user’s eye is drawn to one side of your design more than the other, and information is being missed, you may have an imbalance of visual elements



Proximity is all about creating relationships between elements. Grouping elements that are similar creates a focal point and guides the viewer through the page. Utilizing this principle can also ensure your user isn’t missing any important information.



Alignment helps create order and organization. Aligning elements correctly helps guide the users eye and creates a visual connection between elements. At best, poor alignment can be distracting, but worse, it cause confusion and frustration and lead your user away from your design.



Repetition is used to tie individual  elements together. It helps to create association and consistency. Repetition can create rhythm and place emphasis on certain elements.



Contrast is using opposing elements, such as colors, values, weights, or directions. Contrast can be used to emphasize or highlight key elements in a design. For example, using dark text on a light background makes the text stand out and easier to read.



Space is the distance or area between, around, above, below, or within elements. Both positive and negative space are important factors to be considered in design. Using space wisely can help guide the user through the elements, creating hierarchy and conveying the most important pieces of the message.


When designing, be sure to refer to these basic principles. Keeping them in mind will help you create a compelling and effective design. Happy designing!

You might also want to check out one of my favorite books on these (and other) design principles:

Top 11 Best Design Resources

As a designer, it’s important to have good resources in your wheelhouse. One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to use the plethora of free resources and tools that are out there. There are some things that you can get from stock sources that will save you hours of work. Here are some of the best design resources I’ve come across over the years.


Where the best designers go to find photos and graphics

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This site is a stockpile of stock image sources. I have found images for many projects from sources on this site.


Adobe Color

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Formerly Adobe Kuler, Adobe Color is a great resource for creating color schemes and saving them to the libraries of your other Adobe products.


Book Cover Archive

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This is a great resource for amazing book cover design. It allows you to search by book title, author, and designer.


Fonts In Use

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Fonts in Use has a great typography archive. It’s a great source of inspiration when you’re trying to find a good font pair.



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Dribbble is a community of designers sharing screenshots of their work, process, and projects. It’s a great place to showcase your work, find designers for projects, and find jobs in your industry.


Flickr Creative Commons

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Flickr Creative Commons is great for finding stock photos without worrying about infringing on copyright laws.



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Lynda.com is a place to improve your skills. It has thousands of tutorials made by experts in many fields. Lynda is a subscription-based site, but it is well worth the price!


Design Cuts

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I found Design Cuts recently, but it is a great resource for free and cheap design elements, assets, tutorials, and mockups.



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Behance is another great portfolio site. It’s a great place to share your designs and get and give feedback from and to other designers.


Creative Bloq

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Creative Bloq is a great site for design news, tutorials, videos, and information.



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Panda is a curated feed for your specific interests within the industry. It’s a great source of news and resources.


There are many other resources out there, and these aren’t the only ones I use. They are some of my favorites! If you know of any other great resources, feel free to add them in the comments!