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There's a Science Behind Good Design

Like most things in life, there is a bit of science behind good design. The art directors and set stylists at TRG apply fundamental rules of composition to every project. Following these principles with a keen artistic eye ensures that an image will be visually pleasing. Whether it’s a commercial photography shoot, a video production or a CGI creation, our clients can count on the TRG design team to provide the highest quality work as they apply these guidelines.


The Rule of Thirds

A central tenet of composition is the Rule of Thirds. Simply stated, a field is divided evenly into three columns and rows. This allows the artist to properly balance shot composition as well as make sure that critical elements are in the focal points. The eye will naturally be drawn to where the column grids intersect.

In the image below, which was created for Kichler Lighting, the light fixtures are the products. Notice that the chandelier above the table is at a point of intersection while other fixtures are framed in the top left, where the eye is first drawn as it scans the image.

Breakfast Nook Thirds

The image is divided into three rows and three columns to demonstrate the rule of thirds.

Passive Space

If an image is too cluttered, the viewer’s eye doesn’t know where to look. For this reason, passive space plays an important role when composing a frame. In the room above, the empty wall helps direct attention to the critical elements in the shot while making sure the space doesn’t feel heavy.

The Golden Ratio

Another principle that is applied in design is the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio is approximately 1.618 and is derived from the Fibonacci sequence. Not to turn our exploration of design into a TED Talk on mathematics, but the Fibonacci sequence is the sum of the two numbers that come before it (i.e., 0, 1,1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21). This sequence can be found throughout nature and even helps show why a nautilus shell looks like it does

When an overlay of the Fibonacci Sequence spiral is placed over this image, you begin to see the math behind the design. There is a reason that table looks perfectly positioned in the frame. The stylist knows this as they design the room. The photographer ensures that this law of aesthetics is followed when capturing the image.

The Golden Ratio as shown by the Fibonacci spiral.

The Golden Ratio as shown by the Fibonacci spiral.


Repetition of elements in design also plays an important role in the composition. Anything from color, texture, or similar props or shapes, when repeated in a space, lead to an image’s success.

In the charming cottagecore dining room below, the dark tones of the chairs and table play off the jugs on the side table. These all tie into the light fixture’s finish. Other repeated elements such as the organics help to lead the eye. The dried plants on the left, along with the vase of leaves on the table and the tree on the right, create a visual triangle that helps make the light fixture stand out.

Porch Freesia Overall Day

Rule of Odds

Since the eye is drawn to seeing things in pairs, a stylist knows it’s best to group objects in odd numbers. This will allow the eye to continue to move without locking in on a pair of objects. Notice in the room above that there is an odd number of plates on the wall on the left and an odd number of objects on the table. Your eye sees the bowl of fruit as one object, and a single pear is placed on the table to add a third visual element along with the vase.

Symmetry and Balance

Making sure there is balance and symmetry in set composition is also critical. The placement of the large potted plant on the right helps balance the side table on the left. This balance doesn’t always mean a one-to-one relationship, however. Asymmetrical balance adds visual interest to a space. For example, on the table, the large vase is balanced with the smaller fruit bowl and solo piece of fruit.

Work with a team of design experts

The TRG design team is comprised of world-class talent. With decades of experience behind them, they are experts at composing images to ensure your business has stunning assets to use in print, social media, broadcast, or any other medium. Contact us today to learn more about what TRG can do for your next multimedia project.

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