Every time you place more then one element on a page, it creates a pattern. This is the seed for rhythm. No matter what you do, your design will be rhythmic. Space gets activated by rhythm. Rhythm can help you create a feeling of calm. Rhythm is a way to guide people through your design.
Rhythm is one essential principle that we all need to follow. This is a word you may know but not one you associate with design. What is rhythm, and how do you create it in the context visual elements?
What is Rhythm and How Does It Work?
Rhythm is a repeating pattern which is often composed of sound, or movement. Rhythm music is what you probably think of first when you think about rhythm. Music creates rhythm through the use of sound and nonsound in alternating order. The rhythm is achieved when chords or notes are played in predictable intervals.
How do you visually define rhythm? Rhythm, as a design principle, is the repeated patterning of elements in space. We place elements on the pages and observe the time intervals between them. Time moves as the eye moves through each element. With this rhythm of space and time, we can experience a sense if organized movement, similar to a beat.
There are many places you can find ritm.
- — Sounds at intervals
- dancing — movements and gestures in space
- speech — cadence patterns in spoken words
- – Patterns of cadence in written words
- painting: patterns, brush stroke, color and shape, onto a canvas
Notice the repetition of “patterns” throughout the list. Pattern is vital to rhythm. The same goes for repetition. By repetition, the above list creates rhythm. Visually, each list item begins by a bullet. The bullet is then followed with a single bolded words, an “mdash”, and the words, “patterns.” I would expect that each item on the list follows the same pattern.
Notable are the small variations in line lengths as well the links within some list items. These variations can break up the monotony, add interest, and help to keep the rhythm interesting.
Three types of rhythm
To create rhythm in design we use negative spaces as an alternate to the positive elements. We create rhythm using:
- repeat which creates patterns using predictability
- alternative which creates patterns via contrasting pairs. (Thick/thin, Dark/Light)
- gradation, which creates patterns via a progression of regular steps
From the moment we begin designing, rhythm is almost instantaneous. It is not difficult once more elements appear on the screen. We would like the rhythm to be more planned, and not randomly placed. There are three types of primary rhythm which you can plan.
- Regular rhythm
- Flowing rhythm
- Progressive rhythm
RegularRhythm is when the length or size of the intervals between elements is similar. Regular rhythm is a repetition of elements over a defined interval. Both the elements or interval are generally consistent. However, either one can be altered. The regularity of a rhythm makes it less interesting (but not necessarily boring).
The usual place for the same element is in a straight line. You can use the same color, pattern, or any other characteristic of the element within a regular interval. You can adjust the interval (or space), to increase the interest. This will change the rhythm.
Variation of the element’s characteristics is possible. You can keep the shape and size constant while changing the color. Or you can keep color consistent and change the size. This variation adds to the rhythm’s complexity and interest.