Graphic design: Designing by the golden rule

With everyone having the desktop computer with various design or page layout apps at their fingertips these days, designing a perfect layout, photograph, webpage or logo should be easy, right?

Good design doesn’t just happen or appear before your eyes when you open up your desktop design application. There is a Golden Rule that should apply to that great design. When you start out with your idea and you apply the Golden Ratio (figure A) or Golden Spiral (figure B) to it and then that the design will begin to unfold like a masterpiece on a canvas.

But what is this Golden Rule? Simply put, it is the Greek letter phi, the ratio that rules the relations between two sections in a design.

By dividing section A by section B, the result should be 1.618033987 (phi) or by adding A+B and dividing it by A you will get the same ratio. This gives you good balance within the layout. Figure A gives you a better idea of this principle.

phi

Figure A

But how does it apply to a good design? Using this Golden Rule, you can design you objects or text to flow within the Golden Spiral to lead the eye to your main subject. Lay out your design in squares as shown below and apply the rule to them. Either horizontal or vertical it applies in any direction.

Figure B

Figure B

For more than, 400 years artist and architects have applied this Golden Rule to the great masterpieces of yesterday and of today. Look around you at the best designs out there, most are simple yet elegant. National Geographic’s yellow rectangle is a perfect example as is the new Pepsi element and the new Toyota element. The Golden Rule works perfectly with them.

Theses design elements above appear to have the Golden Rule applied to them. They look good and work well. Many other designs out there do not use the rule but still work well. Good design follows the same rules to be effective; that is why some things just look good others no so much. Keep the Golden Rule in mind on your next project and you will end up with good design.

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