A Designer’s Guide to Golden Ratio

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There are many tools out there for designers to use to create beautiful works of art. From grids and spacing rules to columns and gutters, there are many to choose from, but one tool that is often overlooked is the golden ratio. The golden ratio is a mathematical ratio common to both natural and man-made designs. When it comes to art, everyone can interpret it differently. That is part of the beauty of art, after all. Have you ever found yourself drawn to a design but you weren’t quite sure why? Odds are, it was created using the golden ratio. While there may be different techniques and guidelines you can follow to create a great design, the golden ratio is a mathematical approach that will always help bring your design to the next level.

The Golden Ratio Defined 

The golden ratio describes the perfectly symmetrical relationship between two proportions. It is defined as 1:1.618033987 and is represented by the Greek symbol Phi. In other words, this means that if length A is 100px, then length B would be 161.80px. The golden ratio can be applied to both shapes or objects next to each other, or for forming a single shape such as a rectangle. When applied to a design, the golden ratio will bring your work to the next level, creating a sense of beauty through harmony and proportion. 

Often associated with the golden ratio is the Fibonacci sequence. The Fibonacci sequence states that each number in the sequence is the sum of the two values that came before it. For example, 1+1=2, meaning the first three numbers in the sequence are 1, 1, and 2. The next would be 3 (1+2=3), and so on. The Fibonacci sequence creates the golden spiral, a logarithmic spiral that grows by a factor of the golden ratio. The golden spiral creates another guide when creating designs that help define balance.

Where has the golden ratio been used?

The golden ratio has been around for centuries. Creations such as the Pyramids in Giza, the Parthenon in Athens, and the Mona Lisa all utilize the golden ratio. Take a look in the mirror, even our bodies and faces follow the ratio. Taking it a step further, our brains even seem to be hard-wired to prefer objects and images that use the golden ratio

How to use the golden ratio in your designs

Design layout

It is quite simple to incorporate the golden ratio in your design work. You can apply the ratio to many elements of your design, such as layout, spacing, images, forms, and other content. The golden ratio can be used to generate columns and proportional layouts for your designs no matter how many design elements you are incorporating. You can leverage the formula to determine the best height for each element based on its width. You would either multiply or divide by the 1.618 value to find an arrangement that fits your design needs.

A two-column layout is a common example of the golden ratio in action. This layout is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it makes for a clean, organized, and easy-to-read experience. You can also use the golden spiral as a guide to determine where to place content. The eye is naturally drawn to the center of the spiral, so you’ll want to make sure the focus of your design is on the center of the spiral.

Photography

Composing an aesthetically pleasing photograph can also be done using the golden ratio. You can use the ratio to split the picture into three unequal sections and use the lines and intersection to compose the picture. Similar to the golden ratio is the rule of thirds, another guide often used to compose images pleasing to the eye. Though not quite as precise as the golden ratio, the idea is the same.

Creating circles

Another use case for the golden ratio is creating circles. Similar to how it can be used to create squares and rectangles that are in harmonious proportion to each other, it can be used to create a perfect circle. Golden circles will create both harmony and proportion in your design, as well as consistency. For example, the Pepsi logo is based on two intersecting circles that follow the golden ratio. 

Typography

The golden ratio can be used to help you determine the font size you should use for headers, body copy, blog posts, landing pages, and more. To figure out what size your header font should be based on the size of the body copy, multiply the body copy size by 1.618. For example, if the size of your body copy is 12 points, you would multiply 12 by 1.618, giving you 19.416. A header size of 19 or 20 points would follow the golden ratio and balance the 12 point font size. Similarly, you can find the perfect body copy size if you have already determined the header text. You would just divide the font size for your header text by 1.618.

Even the smallest of tweaks to your design using the golden ratio can drastically improve how your audience responds to it. If you’re not entirely sure how to start composing your next design project, make sure to follow the golden ratio and your design will naturally flow right out.

Printing with Printivity

Once you’ve nailed down your design, make sure you save your file for print. A few things to make sure you do is save your design in the CMYK color profile to make sure the colors you designed are accurately printed. Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to embed any fonts you used, save your file as a PDF, and flatten it. Now you are ready to send your file off to the printer! If you have any questions along the way, don’t hesitate to contact Printivity’s expert customer service center at  1-877-649-5463.

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