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Chapter 5: Fool’s Golden Ratio: Understanding Proportions

Proportion is key in making things look beautiful. Our eyes seem to be naturally attracted to a sense of order in the things that we see. You may have heard someone talk about proportions before: “His nose is out of proportion with the rest of his face.” But what does it really mean for something to be “out of proportion”? Better yet, what makes something “in proportion”?

Although tastes do, and always will, differ, a great deal of study and thought has been given to proportions throughout history. What is it that makes the face of a model beautiful? Similarly, what is it that makes a sculpture beautiful? What makes a logo beautiful? Beautiful proportions are a hidden but important factor in all these cases.

In this chapter, I explain what proportion is and how proportions have been used throughout history to make things beautiful. This is a topic that has fascinated many philosophers, mathematicians, and, of course, artists and designers for millennia. Proportional patterns have been found in nature, as well as in artifacts from ancient societies. These patterns have been studied and then used deliberately in an attempt to crack the formula for beauty.

As I’ll explain, although understanding proportional relationships can help you understand what makes things beautiful, there is no one particular formula that you must follow. Instead, like many things in design, there are more simple guidelines that can get you creating ...

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