Aka. “The Golden Mean”, “Divine Proportions”, “Fibonacci Spiral”, and the list goes on. This shape is created from a mathematical formula known for its aesthetically pleasing appearance. It can be found naturally in many things like earlobes, flowers and nautilus shells. Also used to design artificial objects like the iPod. The more commonly used rule of thirds (which I go over in Navigation & Orientation) is a simplification derived from this equation.
In this post I’ll go in depth to show how it can be used to make your image more effective.
Here's a scene where I used the golden ratio to create a more dynamic image.
The narrative of the scene is of an adventurer who overcomes seemingly impossible obstacles to make it to a new fantastical land.
- In the blockout stage I get the overall shapes down and figure out what my main focal points are. I wanted the viewer’s eyes to spiral around it to mimic that of the blowing wind which is why I chose the Golden Ratio and Fibonacci Spiral.
- My three main focal points are the beginning (Platform), middle (Balloon), and end (Floating Island) of the journey. The Platform is at the start of the spiral and the Island is at the termination of it.
- Now in my blockout I already know exactly where my main guide lines are and two of my three focal points.
- Next step I started strengthening my focal points by breaking up the Floating Island to encircle a floating Crystal at the end of the spiral.
- Then I pulled the hot air Balloon off the spiral and away from the Platform to make them both more pronounced.
- I used vegetation to start breaking up and weakening some of the hard edges of the architecture.
- I added detail and bridges at the Platform.
- Then I used vines to strengthen the circle around the Crystal.
- I elongated the Balloon and pointed it towards the Crystal to hint as to where it is headed.
- I added some negative space to reinforce the beginning of the Platform.
- I added hanging ropes to the Balloon to give more supporting guide lines towards the spiral.
- I was getting a lot of horizontal lines in the right side of the image which was destroying my spiral, so I added in waterfalls and more vertical blocks to the architecture.
- In the top right I added a flock of birds to help connect the spiral between to the Floating Island.
- To balance out the focal points I decreased the saturation of the Balloon and Crystal and added red flowers to the Platform. I made sure to only use red at my focal points since it contrasted well with the blue and green of the scene.
After that I had a finished scene!
The golden ratio is definitely a bit more advanced than most other compositional guides out there, but that doesn't necessarily make it the best. This just happened to help support the experience I wanted to deliver in this environment.
If you’re learning how to use composition in your scenes I highly recommend studying composition for photography and environmental design. There’s a lot of well written documentation for that and hopefully in the near future we’ll get more stuff that’s geared towards building game environments.