Golden Ratio in Art Composition and Design


The world has been captivated by the Golden Ration for many centuries. It is also known as the Golden Section or the Divine proportion. It is based on mathematical principles and is an expression of the two sums where the ratio is equal to the larger of the two quantities. The origin of the Golden Ratio is attributed to Phidias (500 BC – 432 BC), a Greek sculptor and mathematician.

The Golden ratio signifies a number approximately equal to 1.618. The mathematician Mark Barr first began using the Greek letter Phi (φ) as a symbol for the Golden Ratio. Many ancient buildings like the Parthenon in Greece display the Golden Ratio. During the age of Renaissance Leonardo Da Vinci used the Golden Ratio in his paintings. Sandro Botticelli and Georges Seurat used this ratio in their work.

The Golden ration can be seen in Mathematics also in the Fibonacci sequence. In the Fibonacci series, each number in the sequence is the sum of the two numbers that are before it. The relationship between the earth and the moon form a triangle whose value is 1.618.

Golden Ratio in Art

Studies reveal the use of the golden ratio in Michelangelo’s painting The Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel. The Divine proportion appears at the point when God touches Adam’s Finger as he breathes life into him.

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, known as Raphael was one of the Renaissance masters. One of his famous paintings the school of Athens which is a fresco in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican also denotes the Divine proportion.

The Rule of Thirds states by dividing an area into equal thirds vertically and horizontally the intersection of the line will provide a natural focal point for the shape. Photographers are taught to position their subject on one of these intersecting lines so they have a pleasing composition. The Rule of Thirds can be applied to any shape but when you apply it to a rectangle with proportions of 1:1.6 you are very close to a Golden Rectangle. One of the tools to measure the Golden ratio is Golden Ratio callipers.

Golden Ratio in Web design

To implement the Golden ration in a design, you need to see that the relationship between the content area and sidebar in the case of website design is in the ratio 1:1.61.

It is okay to round up values for example if you have a content area of 400 pixels and sidebar of 400 pixels in website design the ratio works out to be 1:1.6 which will match the Golden Ratio.

Calculation of the Golden Ratio

a) Find the longest segment and name it a.
b) Find the shorter segment and name it b.
c) Sum a and b and then divide it by a.
d) Divide a by b.
e) If the proportion is in the Golden Ratio will be equal to 1.618.


The Golden Ratio is used in the design of many current consumer products. They are used to enhance the beauty and balance and harmony in the world of art and architecture. The areas of application of the Golden ratio are infinite.

The Golden Ratio occurs naturally in various forms. It can be used for attaining beauty, balance and harmony in art and design. The Golden Ratio can also be used to create aesthetics and visual harmony in any of the design arts.