The Golden Ratio: How to Use it in Graphic Design

The “Golden Ratio”

 Also known as the “Golden Mean” or “Divine Proportion,” a mathematical concept used in art and design for centuries. It is a ratio of 1:1.618 and is said to be aesthetically pleasing to the human eye.
In graphic design, the Golden Ratio can be applied in many ways, and today I will teach you some of my favorites.

The Golden Ratio


You can also apply the Divine Proportion in typography. Determining the size and placement of typography in your design is helpful. For example, you can use the ratio to determine the extent of headings and body text or the spacing between letters and lines.

Geometric Shapes 

Another way is to use the ratio to create geometric shapes, such as rectangles or spirals:

Golden Spiral

 The Golden Spiral is a logarithmic spiral derived from the Golden Mean. To build a Golden Spiral for graphic design, you can follow these steps:

  1. Draw a square.
  2. Divide the square into four equal smaller squares.
  3. Draw an arc from the top-left square’s center to the bottom-right square’s center.
  4. Draw another angle from the top-right square’s center to the bottom-left square’s center.
  5. Continue drawing smaller squares within each quadrant of the original square and connecting their centers with arcs to create a spiral that expands at a rate of the golden ratio. 
  6. Finally, draw a smooth curve that connects the endpoints of each quarter-circle, creating a spiral that follows the proportions of the Golden Ratio.
  7. Alternatively, in Adobe Illustrator, you can use the “Polar Grid” tool to create a spiral and adjust its parameters to match the golden ratio.

You can place elements, such as images or text, along the coil to create a visually pleasing arrangement.

Golden Rectangle:

The Golden Rectangle is a rectangle that is based on the Golden Ratio: To build a golden rectangle for graphic design, you can follow these steps:

  1. Start with a square. Size is not relevant.
  2. Draw a line from the midpoint of one side of the square to an opposite corner, creating a diagonal line inside the shape.
  3. Using that diagonal line as a radius, draw an arc from one corner of the square to the other.
  4. Draw a line perpendicular to the diagonal line at the point where the arc intersects it, extending it beyond the square.
  5. Draw a new rectangle using the line drawn in step 4 as the shorter side and the original square as the long side.

You should now have a series of rectangles that are all proportional to each other and form a golden rectangle. You can use these rectangles as a guide for your graphic design compositions.

Cuadrículas aun diseño grafico
The Golden Ratio how to implement it in your design

How can you apply it in your designs?

 One often used method is to use it to create balanced and visually harmonious compositions. For example, the Golden Ratio can determine the size and placement of elements in a design, such as text or images within a layout. 

Many designers apply the golden ratio by creating a grid system (you can read about them here) based on its proportions. Use the Golden Ratio to create a grid system that you can use as a framework for your design. This is very useful when determining the placement of elements, such as images and text, in your design.

This can help designers achieve balance and harmony in their compositions. 

The Golden Ratio applied to layout design
The Golden Ratio in graphic design composition

Why should I use it? 

Using the Golden Ratio in your designs can help you create aesthetically pleasing and balanced compositions. 

This is because the ratio is based on a natural and visually appealing proportion found in many natural forms, such as the spiral pattern of shells, the branching of trees, and the proportions of the human body.

Using the Golden Ratio, you can create designs that have a sense of order and harmony, which can be more visually appealing to your audience. This can help you capture your audience’s attention and communicate your message more effectively.

The Golden Ratio can also help you create more memorable and recognizable designs. The ratio has been used in art and design for centuries, and its use can help develop a sense of timelessness and familiarity in your designs.

Remember, the Golden Ratio is not a strict rule but a helpful guideline that can assist you in creating visually pleasing designs. Be creative and experiment with different ways of applying the Golden Ratio in your designs to find what works best for creating visually appealing designs that effectively communicate your message to your audience.
If you want to check more valuable tips about composition in graphic design, check this post.