Harmony In Design Part 2: Repetition

    Jennifer Farley

    Last week I posted a short article outlining some of the factors which help us to achieve visual harmony in our designs. These factors are relevant whether your design is for web or print. Today we’ll  look at the first of these, which is repetition.

    As mentioned last week, visual harmony is the agreement or balance between design elements. Design elements can be photographs, illustrations, type, headlines, backgrounds and textures (and anything else you might like to add to your design). So, if you repeat one of those elements there is immediately a sense of harmony. Two or more identical, or near identical elements are not only an expression of visual agreement, but the repetition also helps to catch and draw the eye into your design. That doesn’t mean your design will look fabulous just by adding two similar items though, your choice of what to repeat is important. Let’s look at some examples of repetition in action.

    Repetition Of An Image Or Icon

    In this book cover design, silhouetted pigeon images are repeated on three lines down the cover. Although the silhouettes are not identical, they are all the same color and are very similar. The repetition of the birds lends a playful feel to the cover.


    The teaser poster for the movie “The Ugly Truth” is a simple and fun design (haven’t seen the movie so can’t comment on its quality). The repetition of the heart between the head and the groin area is humorous and there is also repetition in the typography and with the contrast of light and bold black text in the actor’s names and in the movie title.


    Repetition In A Border

    In this new series of book covers from Pentagram, you can clearly see the connection and consistency between each book. The border thickness and position is repeated on each cover, as is the small Penguin logo. The same typefaces are used on each book and the Author’s Name, Book Title and the words “Modern Classic” appear in the exact same position on each book. That leaves room for individual illustrations for each cover, without losing the visual harmony that has been established through the series.




    See the Pentagram blog for more information on the Nabokov books.

    Repetition In Decoration

    Concentric Studios repeat their logo (of concentric circles) in the background of the left and right blocks on their site.


    A Crayon’s Life Blog uses a canvas texture in the light colored background and also in the blog title and headlines. The orange and tan color scheme is repeated in the navigation and main drawing on the site.

    A Crayons Life

    When you’re working on your designs, take some time to explore repetition and how you can use it to achieve consistency and harmony.

    Next week, I’ll look at how thematic reference has a part to play in visual harmony, hope you will join me.