Divine Proportion

Just as the right ingredients in the right quantity is necessary for a delicious meal, so too is proportion necessary for a fantastic design. Proportion helps achieve balance or harmony between the various elements of a composition so that they appear to belong together in size and distribution. It demonstrates the relationship between two or more elements in a design and how they compare with one another. Proportion is said to be harmonious when a correct or desirable relationship exists between the elements with respect to size, color, quantity, degree, or setting. Good proportion adds harmony, symmetry, or balance among the parts of a design.

Proportion can be used to achieve different effects like creating an area of interest to which the eye is drawn.  Architectural spaces such as churches or centers of government  intended to impress are usually scaled to a size that dwarfs the human viewer. The same principle is often applied to corporate spaces by owners who wish to impress customers with the power and invincibility of the business. In contrast, the proportions of a private home are usually more in scale with human measure, and as a result it appears more friendly, comfortable, less intimidating. Interest can be achieved by using bold colours on large expanse of wall to break up the monotony of the room. The bold colour can then be used as accent colours on smaller surfaces to tie in the elements in the room. Similarly, a drawing of  fruits of contrasting sizes or proportions makes for a  more interesting composition than a drawing fruits of same size.

Back to the food example, the typical table setting is a good demonstration of proportion. The forks, spoons, cups, table mats, napkins, plates, knives, linens, glasses, and  centerpiece all work well together to form a single whole without any piece looking out of place. Some elements of the arrangement are big, others small; some transparent, others opaque; some soft, others hard but they all work together to form a lovely picture of balance and harmony.

You will always get the best of  proportion by:

  1. Placing together elements which are similar in character or have some feature in common.
  2. Combining major and minor areas in the design because equal parts can quickly become monotonous and boring. However, the differences in size must not be so great as to make the parts appear unrelated and therefore, out of harmony with each other.
  3. Arranging space  in such a way that the eye does not perceive a standard mathematical relationship. Dividing up the composition in perfect halves, quarters and thirds should be avoided. A more subtle relationship creates a more dynamic design.
  4. Creating harmony in the design by ensuring that the shape of one part  “fits” the shape of the adjoining elements. Shapes should”fit” properly in their positions and spaces.

Notwithstanding the subject matter, be it a retail, website, logo or brochure design, you can be sure that divine proportion can help bring together the various parts and bits of your design to create something interesting that looks just so right.

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