When working in graphic design, making things look good may seem like the right thing to do, but perhaps making things attract attention should be your goal. Attracting attention can often be done by creating tension in the eyes of the viewers. Tension is defined as balanced relation between strongly opposing elements, or the interplay of conflicting elements. This tension or conflict will cause viewers to stop and take a closer look at your design in hopes of uncovering what is making them subconsciously uncomfortable. Here are a few tension creating tips to intrigue your viewers:
- Barely touching elements tease the viewers. Their eyes are drawn to this point of almost intersection, and they keep checking to see if the items really touch.
- Design decisions that appear tentative, such as elements that are off-kilter, can cause conflict because the viewer will naturally want things to be straight and orderly. Deliberately placing images off balance, as long as it isn’t overdone, can help capture a viewer’s attention.
- Using complementary colors next to each other, especially when there is a shared edge, can cause a vibration in your design. This is because each color is vying for dominance in the eyes of your viewer. Choose your colors to attract attention.
Using these techniques at some of the focal points of your piece, such as the center, and the corners, will retain the viewer’s interest as they digest all that your piece has to say.