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Would you use the center of gravity as reference for centering, the plain shape (xmin/xmax/ymin/ymax)? Or any other methods? Maybe centering based on your gut feeling?

Imagine an object like this, you have to center on a poster or shirt:

enter image description here

How does one achieve a sense of balance when mandatory design elements are clearly unbalanced within themselves?

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    This is a bit broad and will depend on things like the object's size, shape, surrounding elements, etc. as well as your own judgement. I'd say trust your eyes and do what you think looks best (hire someone with good ones if you don't). – Manly May 8 '17 at 17:22
  • Hi ScientiaEtVeritas. I've edited your question a bit to hopefully make it a bit more targeted and slightly less subjective. If you feel my edits were inappropriate, please click the EDIT link under the question where you can easily change things back. – Scott May 8 '17 at 18:22
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I have to work with a logo that is unbalanced all the time.

The way I deal with this is by centering based off of the heaviest element in the image. In your case this is the circle.

This works because, at a glance, it often appears as though the object is perfectly centered.

logo weight examples

In this example, the green line shows my "center" while the red line is closer to the object's true center.

As you can see, I ignored the blue lines to center the object. This decision was based off of my personal opinion and a bit of user testing.

In the case of your graphic, I would take the same approach.

your example image with center lines drawn

Even though the red line shows the center of your graphic, it looks very off-balance since all the weight is in the circle.

Try center based off of the green line (center of the circle).

In the end, you have to like what you see. So if you think it looks better one way over another, go with your gut!

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This question is very broad and, as stated in the comments, there are many things to take into account. Distributing space is what designers do all day long and exactly how you do it is part of your statement as a designer.

But let's zoom in on this isolated example.

Centering 1

In the first image I have centered the figure using the center of the circle. The next image shows the figure centered based on mass (my quick approximation) and in the third one I have centered the figure according to the total width.

In this case I would go for the first option. The center of mass is just a little to the left of the center of the circle - it looks kind of messy. The last option is clearly not centered.

But if your figure had a little more weight to its left side, we would have another scenario:

Centering 2

In this case I believe the center of mass method is the best. The other options just doesn't seem centered to me.

I guess you'll have to always use your eyes and choose a different strategy for each individual case. (When you have found a good balance for an object, remember to "save" it by grouping the object with a transparent rectangle. Then you only have to do the centering once.)

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