DsgnSnse Blog

Art direction, design, and photography blog. Visual inspiration and conceptual imagery. Joshua Mathis.

Balance & Symmetry

I love playing around with symmetry. When I’m working on a piece, its more than flipping an image around and finding balance. That’s just the starting point. Not every image can balance itself out. Not every image works. So I explore. And I usually find the balance through a happy mistake.

Once I have a starting point, I like to push the image beyond symmetry. I look for things to break. So although a quick glance might give the eye the impression that there is symmetrical balance, I give the viewer more to look at. Kind of like a spot the difference puzzle. Hidden easter eggs. Some more obvious than others. But, if you really take the time, you can analyze the image and spot little differences that make it more of a symmetrical riddle.

It’s almost like it a little game I like to play on people. To see if they catch it. If I see an image that captures my attention, I study it. I’ve always been this way. I analyze all of the details, from the artistic approach to the technical.

I look for balance, wonder about the choice in colors, ask myself what is the message? What’s the subject matter? And then I also look at the crop, image optimization, is the image sharp? why or why not?

These are some of the things I ask myself about my own work, as well as others.


Here's a quick Gif of the process:

Here's the original image. 

I tuned some of the colors and adjusted the crop to turn the image into a portrait. At this point, I like the image, but felt I could do more. 

I decided to give symmetry a shot, and see if I could find balance in the image. The fire escape really didn't add much to the composition so I decided to lower the image, center it, and crop it. 

Pulling out guides helps me study the lines in an image and helps me spot where I could potentially crop, edit, or add things to an image. 

I liked where this was going, but there were a few things I needed to adjust. I wanted the person (me) to be the focus of the image and the artifacts in the middle of the image were distracting. Also, it kind of shows your hand. It's a dead giveaway that an image has been flipped around -which isn't necessarily bad, but in this instance, it just gets in the way.  

With the artifacts in the middle now gone, I thought the image would be complete, but it lacked a sense of balance. The walls on either side were completely different and I preferred the look of the wall on the right. I decided I was going to clone that wall to the opposite (left) side. 

Mirroring the wall would be a little more complex than I anticipated. There were elements behind my back, a car to my right and a door to deal with. 

Once the wall had been cloned, I had to carefully mask out the part of my body that was peeking through the flipped image, then re-create the textures on the ground.

At this point my guides are showing me that there is balance, I just need to clean up the textures behind my back and recreate the mirrored door in the background. 

And Voila! 

Joshua MathisComment