Design Principles From the Films of Wes Anderson

by . December 8th, 2016

Every filmmaker and designer has heard of the guy who was able to make a cynical teen love story about a lobby boy interesting. The name Wes Anderson is associated with attention to detail — be it in production or costume design.

His greatness is no magic. When we try to carefully analyze how his movies are made, we’ll find that there are many similarities among his works because he follows a certain structure — different design principles. Take a good look at how film director Wes Anderson demonstrates some design principles in his films.



There are mixed reviews regarding Anderson’s take on one-point perspective. He likes peering down from above as if you’re a giant looking down. He uses this style in all of his establishing shots.

He also likes shooting characters while they are in motion, like when a character is walking towards the screen and suddenly, another design principle is seen…



If he were to rank all the design principles, balance would be first on his list. Wes Anderson is synonymous with symmetry. He is known for his fondness for the rule of thirds and symmetrical balance.

Most of his subjects are centered as seen on this compilation of all his centered muses. Centering certain graphic elements may not be cool (most are left aligned these days) but Anderson always gets away with it.



GIFs from Vulture

It is given that there is movement in film but the way he shows movement in other aspects is noticeable. The camera always pans across the room for establishing shots and it oftentimes follows the character as it walks.

Have you noticed how his characters always walk parallel and never diagonally? This article even accuses Anderson of not letting his characters move freely but still, the use of movement is a-okay.



Wes Anderson knows exactly where he wants his audience to focus on that’s why watching his films doesn’t require much thinking. The scenes flow smoothly so your eyes won’t get tired.

He does not only emphasize characters by scaling (another design principle), he also uses contrast (but another design principle!) through color and shape.



In real life, people always need space. In the movies of Wes Anderson, characters are given more than enough room to breathe. He uses space wisely. Anderson’s production design is well thought out—detailed, visual, and clean—sometimes even too neat for the public eye. He sees to it that every aspect is necessary, or at least improves the overall visual impact.

Design principles were made to guide designers with their work. Don’t let these concepts stop you from doing something unfamiliar because art is still subjective. Just like Wes Anderson, try to experiment and break the norms on your way to an Oscar nomination.

What other principles of design have you observed in Wes Anderson’s work? Comment below!