How to Design Using the Golden Ratio in Art

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Da Vinci's work "The Vetruvian Man" uses golden rectangles to balance the artwork.

The golden mean, also known as the golden ratio, rectangle, section, number and spiral, as well as the divine proportion, is a mathematical ratio found throughout nature and in art. The golden mean has been used for centuries to design artwork such as Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" and the Parthenon, the ancient temple on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. Designing using the golden mean helps plan your artwork to make it more aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Things You'll Need

  • Golden mean grids
  • Pencil or chalk
  • Fibonacci numbers
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Instructions

    • 1

      Find a grid to represent the golden mean. The golden ratio can be expressed through a series of rectangles, triangles, pentagons and pentagrams. Transparencies and examples of these designs that represent the golden mean can be found at websites such as the Incredible Art Department or through the University of Georgia.

    • 2

      Use chalk or pencil to copy the grid onto the paper. Chalk or pencil is easy to erase once the work is completed, and no one will see that you used a grid.

    • 3

      Sketch in your artwork using the golden ratio to help guide how the artwork should be designed. For example, if using the golden rectangle, you can draw a spiral using the corners of each rectangle. This pattern is found in nature such as in seashells or pine cones. Human figures can also be created with the facial features in the smaller rectangles and the body include in the larger rectangles. If using the pentagram, the focus of the work is in the center portion of the pentagram, with additional features placed around the focus that relate to the points of the star.

    • 4

      Use Fibonacci numbers when adding details to items. Fibonacci numbers are 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and go on forever. The next number is found by adding together the previous two numbers in the sequence and make up the golden mean. For example, if you are adding petals to a flower using the golden rectangle, use a Fibonacci number to go around the center. Start with three petals around the center, the next pedal layer should have five pedals and continue outward.

Tips & Warnings

  • Nearly any artwork can be created using the golden mean and Fibonacci numbers. Artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Rembrandt all used the golden mean in their artwork.

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References

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  • Photo Credit Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

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