Design unity is one of the principles of design we seek to follow when creating artwork. Just as in general terms, the word unity means oneness, when we talk about design unity, we’re also talking about oneness or singleness in the design.
The different elements of the design should be working in harmony with each other. They shouldn’t be disparate or doing their own thing.
You can achieve design unity in a multitude of ways. One of the easiest ways to pull design pieces together or to unite them is by repetition. When you repeat a color, shape, or any other thing in your design, it creates design unity. That’s easier said than done though. As a creative person, when you have lots of “yummy”‘ fabrics and shiny threads it’s hard to repeat the same things when you can add some more design elements instead.
For this piece, I’d decided to use four colors – yellow, orange, blue and green. But as I proceeded to work, I realized that there weren’t many opportunities for me to include the color orange. This happened because I didn’t have a whole lot of small collage pieces. I had just a few large pieces. Since there were only a few pieces to work with, I couldn’t repeat each piece more than once or twice, thus making my piece lacking in design unity. The elements in my design weren’t in harmony with each other. Each one looked as though it was doing their own thing. There wasn’t a common thread between them.
So I dropped one color. Yes, I had to let go of the color orange. I consolidated the collage pieces around the three remaining colors, making sure that each color had been repeated at least once. This way the piece was unified by color and design unity is achieved.
Design variety is another laudable goal to aim for in your work and sometimes it can seem to be at odds with the need to have design unity. The way I’ve discovered to balance these two principles of design is by exercising restraint. You should restrain variety (how many different elements you use) by increasing repetition, that way you satisfy both design unity and design variety.
Tips, Tools & Techniques: Design Unity
Check your design for consistency. When you find that variety of elements is getting out of hand, then design variety has taken over where design unity should be. What you should do is, limit variety (Different elements in your design) by increasing repetition of what you already have. This is when less becomes more. I know it’s tempting to add more design elements (fabrics, threads, beads, free motion stitching) but that doesn’t a great design composition make.
Question: Do you find yourself sometimes overdoing the number of things you add to your design? What have you done to combat that? Share your thoughts below.
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