Add Beauty and Balance Using the Golden Ratio and the Perfect Spiral


They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it actually stems from mathematics.

Proportion is one of the guiding principles of design. Proportion includes the visual size and weight of elements and how they relate to each other. Proportion helps you group your design in sections, like consolidating elements by size, amount, or numbers. Whether it’s columns in a magazine, sidebars on a poster, or focal points in photography, proportion communicates importance and helps the brain decode information.

The Golden Ratio

When you want to create captivating designs, remember that the Golden Ratio (1: 0.618) is the most recognized proportion that aesthetically appeals to humans. With its strict proportions, this ratio creates harmony, off-center midpoints, and even gorgeous spirals.

To use the golden ratio, you can start with a line, a square, a rectangle, or even a triangle. On a line, points A and B are placed at opposing vertices, and point C is set between the points. On an AB line, for example, the golden ratio is achieved if the center point C is placed so that line AB divided by section AC is equal to section AC divided by section CB. Point C is placed at the “golden ratio point,” or approximately 0.618.

It looks like this:


The Fibonacci Sequence

Once you’ve studied and mastered the golden ratio in polygon shapes (or pages), you can compose perfect spirals within them. This phenomenon, called the Fibonacci Sequence, was proposed in Western science by an Italian mathematician in 1202. The numbers in this sequence are 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc., where each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two. When the proportions are right, the spiral created from this sequence matches some of the most intricate designs in nature – like a sunflower, a flowering artichoke, a budding pinecone, or an intricate snail shell.


Using the Fibonacci Sequence can bring an exquisite sense of balance to a page. In photography, some artists like to use Adobe Lightroom to perfect compositions during post-processing. This software has a range of crop overlays, including one called the Golden Ratio based on the Fibonacci Spiral. It offers an easy shortcut for incorporating a professional sizing and spacing system into your designs.

Want to try it?

When using the crop tool, move between the different types of crop overlays by using the shortcut key [o] and [shft] + [o] to toggle between the different angles and varieties of the overlay that are available. Position points of interest on the perfect spiral and lead viewers to explore the points of interest you capture in your image.

Working with this grid, you can shift elements to create energy, add natural balance to a page, and centralize headlines or focal points for maximum impact.

Visual Harmony: Proportion in Graphic Design


Effective visual communication is not an accidental occurrence, but the result of serious intention on the part the designer to balance all aspects of the design. This is often achieved through careful application of proportion based on certain guiding principles long in existence: the golden ratio, or divine proportion, and the Fibonacci sequence. Both mathematical constructs that mirror patterns found throughout nature, from leaves and shells to sunflowers and pinecones. Artists and designers have made use of these principles for centuries to create work with long lasting appeal, from renaissance paintings to modern logos. Following a practical overview, Visual Harmony presents a survey of contemporary graphic design that all exhibits this masterful use of proportion.