Project: Visual Dynamics

Research point

Becoming aware of how you look at things is useful in understanding how best to construct the visual dynamic of your own design work. Go back to your visual diary, how do your eyes travel around the items you have collected? What do you look at first? Where is the contrast in what you are looking at?

I found this blog entry from Vanseo Designs(1) extremely helpful in explaining what is meant by Visual Dynamics. It explains about the tension created by where an object is placed in the space and indeed the tension created between objects if there is more than one object in the space. Overlapping objects or increasing their size can also increase tension. Juxtaposition between conflicting objects increases tension. Light and dark, small and large, straight lines and curves when used in the same space can all increase tension.

Another blog (2) I found useful offered this quote

In the visual arts, we can think of dynamics in terms of contrasting elements. Think size and variation; empty space and filled spaces; areas of simplicity and areas of complexity. Focal point also plays a major role.

The final piece of work which I found extremely helpful is a Mini Course in Design which is in PdF format here.

On contrast it says

basically involves using contrasting qualities for visual interest- big to small, textured to smooth, hard to soft, red to green, black to white, straight to curve, fat to thin, long to short etc. Contrast is wither similar to or interacts with many of the other principals such as scale, interval, much to how much etc.

page_1A page of postcards from my visual diary. These are postcards that I have kept for many years. Some because I liked them and some because I liked the people from whom they came. I like the bird postcard best. I like the contrast between the white sky and the flock of blackbirds below. I like the way my eye is drawn into the image by the single bird separated from the rest. The contrast between black birds and white sky is powerful.





page_3Another page from my visual diary contains various pieces. One is a flyer for paints, another is for an upcoming exhibition in Aix. The bottom right is another of my favourites. This is a publicity postcards for a book binding course.The small images are centred and balanced. I like black as a background. I think it helps the contrasts between the colour in the small images.


cardI think it falls down with the choice of colour for the title and web information. White might have been a better choice. The colour reproduction here is not great.








These are a collection of flyers from the shop where I work in Ireland. They give information for island visits, accommodation and ferries. I think they are all too fussy but they are usually read and thrown away.


page_2Three more pages from the diary. The pizza box is great for the purpose it serves but I do not think it is startling design. In the first of these three contains the FNAC logo. I love this so much that I bought a bag with the logo on it. I think the tension is greatly increased by having only part of the logo visible on each side. I also like the striped bag. This was a beautiful kitchen shop in Aix which has not survived the financial turn down. But I kept the bag. The contrast between green and white is great. The atmosphere is of beach huts…

page_6I like both of these designs. Confirmation of my love of black background. The top one is a menu for a train restaurant in Australia. The menu design was better than the meal.

The Sam Friday bag is one of my favourites. The silver name on the black give an atmosphere of luxury. The tab used to close the bag provides all the information about the shop. My daughter gave me a lovely present in this quite some time ago.




This is the Wild Atlantic Way logo. An initiative of the Irish Tourism Board. It was such a simple logo but so effective. It is now on every signpost and every village uses it to attract visitors. It flows like waves. It can be easily reproduced on any support.

I could have designed it – pity I didn’t!!

nz_symbolThe New Zealand logo has always fascinated me. Apparently they had a referendum to ask citizens if they wanted to change their flag with the logo. There was a resounding NO. It is simple with big contrast. Again white on Black.

wellaI love the Wella logo. It, again, is simple, white on grey. As a hair product logo it is spot on. The double visage with the wavy hair flying – perfect. Placed at the bottom of the bag increases the tension. The red satin handles makes it look like a luxury product, even though it was only a shampoo….


So in conclusion I am drawn to simple symbols and logo. I especially like white/silver on black  background. I like the increase in tension created by only displaying a portion of a symbol. One of the most effective symbol I saw this week as the toilet door in IKEA, A simple female figure shown only in half on the right, a child (also half) on the left. A half moon for the handle. I look at whatever is situated on the most contrasting background, first. I like the use of topography placed in such a way to increase tension. My eye searches the remainder of the word.


  1. Vanseo Design. 2016. How To Create Visual Tension in Your Designs – Vanseo Design. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 November 2016].
  2.  Advanced Design: Visual Dynamics | Paperclipping. 2016. Advanced Design: Visual Dynamics | Paperclipping. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 November 2016].