Creating a dynamic composition can vastly improve your art.
However, especially for beginners, it can be challenging.
Where do I place my focal point? Where do I arrange the composition? Where do I even begin?
With all of these questions it can become confusing. However if you want to improve your compositions, the golden ratio is a worth learning.
Within this blog post you will discover what the golden ratio is and how you can construct your own golden rectangle. You will learn the golden circles, and how you can apply this to your artistic compositions. I’ll be sharing paintings and logo designs that use the golden ratio to further illustrate the power of this method.
As you’re interested in leveling up your composition skills, my recent article on the colour wheel can help you improve your art even more, and be sure to check out my tips to help you create an amazing illustrator portfolio.
What Is The Golden Ratio?
Also known as the Golden Mean and the Golden Section, the Golden Ratio can help every artist and designer create dynamic and organic-looking compositions.
The golden ratio is seen in man-made objects like the Parthenon in Greece to the Taj Mahal in India, but it’s also seen throughout nature; in the spiral of a flower to a galaxy spiral.
Artists dating back 4,000 years ago such as Leonardo da Vinci have used this method, like these examples below. If you would like to find out more about how artists have used this method, here’s a good resource.
The golden ratio is a ratio of 1:1.618, which is mathematically called Phi. This ratio closely refers to the Fibonacci Sequence. The Fibonacci Sequence is a progression in which the next number in the sequence is a total of itself and the previous number, starting at 0.
0, 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34
This is the rate of growth that is pleasing, sequential and is infinite. For example, 0+0=1, 0+1=1, 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5 and so on.
This rate of growth roughly boils down to the ratio of 1:1.618, the golden ratio. If you look at the golden rectangle, one side will be 1, and the other will be 1.618. Here’s an interesting TED talk all about this sequence.
How To Create A Golden Rectangle
1) Start by drawing a square which is equal on all sides – let’s say 100px (or 10cm if drawing manually) for the width and height. (I suggest you use Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop).
2) Create a duplicate of this square and place to the right, and multiply this box by 1.618 to form a rectangle. (Make sure that the anchor symbol is turned off).
3) Select both boxes, and using the align tool, align them both to the left hand side (making sure the align tool is set to ‘Selection’ not the page).
4) And there you go, your golden rectangle is complete!
5) You can now keep creating squares in each of the rectangles, which ultimately goes on indefinitely.
How To Create A Golden Spiral
Using your golden rectangle, we’re going to create the golden spiral.
1) Place a circle in the largest square (the dimensions should be the same as the rectangle).
2) Times this circle by 2 (so a 100px circle will now be 200px wide and high).
3) Place the circle within the square
4) Delete the 2 anchor points to create the semi-circle
5) To create the second semi-circle, duplicate the previous semi circle and divide it by 1.618
5) Rotate to fit within the smaller square size.
6) Keep repeating this until you have filled all of your squares (remember you will have to stop at some point as it’s an infinite sequence).
7) Your Golden spiral is complete!
How To Create Golden Circles
1) Using your golden rectangle, place a circle in each square
2) Select all of your circles and align centrally
3) And there you go! Golden circles complete!
Golden Circles In Logo Design
The golden circles have been used in some of the most famous logos throughout history.
From Apple to Twitter, these golden circles have been used to create pleasing and dynamic logos, all created from the golden ratio. For more info on golden circles in logo design, this is a great resource.
You can see the logos below are using these circles within their design. This brings logic, rhythm and a meaning behind every logo.
The National Geographic literally uses a ratio of 1:1.618 for it’s logo of a rectangle.
Toyota and BP uses different sizes of golden circles within their logos too.
A Logo That I Designed Using Golden Ratio Circles
Since we’ve been talking about the golden ratio, I gathered this would be the ideal opportunity to share a recent logo design that I designed.
Using the circles from the golden ratio, I have constructed the red logo below.
Experimenting initially with the circles from the golden ratio to form a fox’s head, the design transformed into this fictional company named ‘FXHost’. I’ve always wanted to design a logo for a fictional company of my choosing, and I couldn’t pass this opportunity by!
I wanted to convey a cheeky, warm and energetic logo design, all using this method that we have discussed in this article.
Everything is from the ratio, the fox’s whiskers, the shadows and highlights, to the eye – absolutely everything.
Alongside this, I have also made the ratio of the lettering & crest of the logo 1:1.618. The golden ratio is definitely singing from this one! (And if you didn’t already notice, I have used 3 whiskers, 3 shadows to 3 parts of the eye, which relates back to the Fibonacci Sequence).
Find out more about this logo design using the golden ratio on my portfolio.
Golden Ratio For The Win!
I’ll love to hear how you have tried, experimented and used the golden ratio (and it’s numerous forms, like golden circles) within your art. Give me a comment below!
If you have enjoyed this article on learning all about the golden ratio, do check out my other blog posts, giving you tips, advice and tricks to help you on all aspects of art and design.
If you unfamiliar with my work, do check out my portfolio, specialising in editorial, publishing to advertising illustration.
I hope you have enjoyed this blog post guys, and see you on the next article!
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