NHS Designs

the result of bringing the elements of art into appropriate ratio between harmony and variety to give a sense of oneness.

related concepts

  • color, texture, shapes, and value are used to create unity

Graphic Design Principles of 
			  Visual Design


Visual unity is one of the most important aspects of well-developed art and is planned by the artist.

Unity provides the cohesive quailty that makes an artwork feel complete and finished.

When all the elements in a work look as though they belong together, the artist has achieved unity.

Unity in Fine Art

Vincent van Gogh - Starry Night
Vincent van Gogh - "Starry Night", 1889

Van Gogh was concerned with the unity of his paintings. In this one, the swirling brush strokes and dominance of cool colors tends to unify the surface and create the feeling that everything belongs together.

Source: Elements and Principles of Design: Student Guide with Activities, published by Crystal Productions

Unity in Graphic Design

Black Cat Menu by Dennis Clouse

Target Ad Campaign
Gaby Brink
Templin Brink Design

Nowhere is unity more important than in an an campaign. Creating unity is a form of branding: you must establish a look and attitude that are recognizable even before the content of the ad is read. This particular campaign for Target works quite well in this way. The design is fresh and attention-getting.

As simple as the idea is—combining related objects with images of the products the ads feature—it is sure to get noticed because it is also playful. Too olften, the tendency is to take our assignments so seriously that we forget the value of whimsy and entertaining design in making customers feel good about the products we are endeavoring to sell.

Another nice feature of these ads is the treatment of the type. Not only are the headlines clever but the type is tastefully applied to the ad. It is interesting that the Target nameplate does not exist anywhere on the ads. The symbol is enough to identify the store.

Source: Design Basics for Creative Results by Bryan L. Peterson

Further Definition

Unity is a measure of how the elements of a page seem to fit together - to belong together. A unified work of art represents first a whole, then the sum of its parts.

What is it?

All of the design elements (images, fonts) are consistent with each other in shape, style and colour and consistent with the overall message of the image and from a commercial point of view, its target market.

Why is important?

  • Establishing and maintaining a consistency throughout your printed piece is essential to the success of your design.
  • If there is no unity than the main message of the design may be lost or miss the targeted audience.
  • Unity helps to hold the image together both image wise and message wise.

How to achieve it

American Gothic by Grant Wood
How many pitchforks can you find in American Gothic by Grant Wood?

  • Color symbolism: Colors that work together with the message; e.g. an environmental action poster would do well with greens and other natural colors. The color supports the message.
  • Shapes & Lines: Are they curved and soft in an organic sense, or hard and sharp at right angles for something to do with computers?
  • Size: One element is not overwhelming another to the point it’s lost
  • Fonts: Work together with design elements
    (e.g. curvy lines with curvy fonts, rigid line with rigid fonts.) Fonts help convey/support the message.
  • Style: Overall style creates a united message.
    • A wedding invitation has certain style elements that give it instant reorganization (e.g. wedding bells, doves, flowers, bride and groom images, a flowing script style font.) An ad for a certain brand of wedding invitations would use wedding elements in its design.
    • Style also talks to the targeted audience; the overall style of a hip hop CD design would be radically different from the design of a Gilbert and Sullivan CD. Each design would be tailored to the market and the products’ respective tastes and pre-existing established styles.
  • Proximity: The simplest method of making objects appear to belong together is to group them closely together. This allows us to see a pattern
  • Repetition/PatternAnother method often used to promote unity is the use of repetition. Repetition of color, shape, texture or object can be used to tie a work together. 
  • Continuation: A much more subtle method of unifying a work involves the continuation of line, edge or direction from one area to another. Continuation is often used in books and magazines to tie the elements of a page together with the use of rules, and by lining up edges of copy, headlines and graphics.


  • Is the layout seen and perceived as a single, unified whole?
  • Are there things that just don't feel right, like a sore thumb sticking out?
  • Unity also exists in variety. It is not necessary for all of the elements to be identical in form, providing they have a common quality of meaning or style. For example, fashions from a specific period share common features of silhouette, materials, and color that identify the style of the day, or the look of a particular designer.

resources · copyright information · Website designed by
Order a Custom, Watercolor Pet Portrait at PetsByDawn.com