The Myth of Golden Ratio

I’d like you to watch this video before you read the rest of the article.

The video is a guy asking random ordinary people a fake question about a fake movie.

Do you think Eddie Murphy deserved an Oscar nomination for his role in Ninja Knights?

There is no such movie called ‘Ninja Knights’ starring Eddie Murphy!

All the people being interviewed lied flat out and were like, “His performance was just magnificent, magnificent!”

Often people might term a movie as dry and boring but if you tell that the movie has won an Oscar for screenplay, their review would change to a glowing praise.

“It had depth and character. It becomes an affecting allegory for the fleeting joys of life.”

Some thing similar happens in the design world where including the Golden Ratio in your design some how automagically makes it superior.

Designers often have this habit of trying to include the ‘Golden Ratio’ – 1.618 in their designs.

Twitter recently redesigned their logo and used the Golden Ratio. People have pointed out that Apple’s iCloud logo uses the Golden Ratio.

Twitter Logo

 

iCloud Logo

iCloud Logo

Wikipedia article on this topic says

At least since the 20th century, many artists and architects have proportioned their works to approximate the golden ratio—especially in the form of the golden rectangle, in which the ratio of the longer side to the shorter is the golden ratio—believing this proportion to be aesthetically pleasing

But does Golden Ratio really have any special properties which can make design look aesthetically pleasing? Did great artists like Da Vinci, really use it to create great works of art?

art or just a clever use of a number?

 

 

Parthenon in Athens

Attributing the ‘Golden Ratio’ for beauty of Mona Lisa is an insult to Da Vinci. Do you really think that Mona Lisa or ancient Greek sculpture are beautiful just because of a number?

Most people who sing about the magical properties of the golden ratio have only read about it in Dan Brown’s novels (I think it was Angels and Demons). Having read all of Dan Brown’s novels I can tell you one thing for sure – he lies a lot.

Now I’m not saying that Dan Brown is wrong every time but he does exaggerate few things to make his books interesting.
In Angels and Demons he talked about the difficulty of creating Ambigrams.
In reality there are several softwares and webapps out there which can create an ambigram for your name on the spot.

creating an ambigram is so tough that Mr Dan Brown makes one himself

Similarly when Dan Brown talks about the golden ratio, he tells us that it is found all over the nature. Even the human body is built keeping in mind this ratio.

People are different, everyone has different bodily measurements. If you take the ratio for everyone it won’t be the ‘Golden Ratio’ it would be different for everyone.

If you draw 2 rectangles, one with the ratio 1.618 and the other with any random ratio. Is there any reason why the rectangle with Golden Ratio would look better?

Proponents of Golden Ratio talk about how it occurs in nature. I came across this question on Quora:

Read Quote of Anonymous’ answer to Science: How would one explain the occurrence of the golden ratio in evolutionary terms? on Quora

Does Angelina Jolie’s face follow the golden ratio perfectly, where as Jennifer Aniston’s face doesn’t and is that the reason why Brad Pitt left her for Jolie?

I tried to draw a ‘Golden Rectangle’ over their face to try and see if it fits the definition of a beautiful face according to the rules set by the ‘Golden Ratio’ and here is the photo.

Golden Ratio verdict? Ugly!

As the photo clearly shows, unlike Mona Lisa the Golden Rectangle doesn’t fit either Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie. If you don’t find them gorgeous you need to get your eyes checked.

Several people wrongly believe that Apple’s logo is based on the Golden Ratio. According to such people, everything beautiful must have the Golden Ratio. David Cole decided to test this claim and here is his result - Fake!

fake, apple logo, golden ratio myth

 You can read his entire answer on Quora here.

 

He posted a picture, which I will share here. It shows how the iPhone would look like, had it been designed keeping the Golden Ratio in mind:

devine ratio myth

The ‘Golden Ratio’ is just a number and it should be treated that way, unless you see ‘Golden Rectangles’ everywhere, like this:

 

For those of you who follow Manchester United, you might be knowing that some of the world’s greatest footballers have worn the jersey no. 7.

George Best, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo have worn that jersey.

david beckham, eric cantona, cristiano ronaldo, george best, jersey no. 7

 

Was there anything special about the jersey no. 7 which some how gave these players super-human abilities? Was that no. the reason for their success?

Hell no.

These players are legends because they worked hard at their game. Here is an even better proof that the jersey no. 7 had no effect on them.

valencia, jersey no. 7, manchester united

Jersey No. 7, plays shit.

If any design is made keeping in mind the Golden Ratio, doesn’t make it, somehow perfect. A good design doesn’t necessarily need the Golden Ratio. It is just a number like any other. It occurs in nature but it isn’t the only one and there is nothing special about it. Human have 2 legs, hands, eyes, ears, etc. but that doesn’t mean anything. You wouldn’t draw 2 Mona Lisa’s side by side and say that since 2 is a magical no. this makes it perfect.

I don’t mind designers using any ratio for creating their design, but when they tout it as a feature it makes me cringe.

 

Do read this excellent article written by Donald Simanek where he talks in detail about the mistakes by ‘Golden Ratio’ proponents.

http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/pseudo/fibonacc.htm

Here is the article on Wikipedia which points out the mistakes made by ‘Golden Ratio’ believers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1.618#Disputed_observations

 

Read More:
http://www.laputanlogic.com/articles/2005/04/14-1647-4601.html

http://goldenratiomyth.weebly.com

http://designshack.net/articles/graphics/twitters-new-logo-the-geometry-and-evolution-of-our-favorite-bird/

Related posts:

  • Blue

    This article was written by someone who knows nothing about the golden ratio.

    • http://inventikasolutions.com/ Inventika Solutions

      @5e00f1d4e74e6514e5e89563d4a51012:disqus I believe the golden ratio is nothing different than any other ratio. There is nothing magical about it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/PrashntS Prashant Sinha

        you’re moron. I said it.

        • blake wheeler

          you can’t use grammar.

  • http://twitter.com/5lettername Ashim

    A book I recommend you should read before posting articles on golden ratio is ‘Geometry of Design’.

  • Anonymous

    First of all, it’s not just the rectangle around the face that defines the face as to whether it’s “perfect” by the golden ratio; there are so many more measurements that matter. Second, are you honestly telling society at large that they’re stupid if they don’t believe that a celebrity is “gorgeous.” People have different opinions. Deal with it. And speaking of things that make me cringe, you used a double negative in the sentence beneath the picture of Aniston or Jolie.

    • http://inventikasolutions.com/ Inventika Solutions

      @51c627f4df94a68e1adf53ad3c3154c5:disqus
      Aniston and Jolie both are gorgeous. I was using it as an example to show how beauty cannot be defined by something like a golden ratio.
      I said – ” If you don’t find them gorgeous you need to get your eyes checked.”
      The comment was a joke.
      I believe several things go into making a beautiful design. Even then it some may find it beautiful while others won’t.

      But I don’t like designers automatically assuming, that their design is superior just because have they used the Golden Ratio.

    • |Anon

      There ain’t no double negative in a “neither A nor B” statement. *cringe*

      • Chris

        The full statement takes the form “NOT neither A nor B” – “DOESN’T fit neither Jennifer nor Angelina” so it is in fact a double negative. “Fits neither Jennifer nor Angelina” or “Doesn’t fit either Jennifer or Angelina” would be acceptable alternatives.

        • http://inventikasolutions.com/ Inventika Solutions

          You are right, the mistake has been corrected.

  • Billy Kubina Jr

    Wow this dude knows nothing about music eh?

  • Anon

    What a horrible article. Your research of the golden mean is primarily based on “Angels and Demons”? The Mona Lisa wasn’t painted with the golden rectangle proportioned to her face! Leonardo da Vinci used the golden ratio extensively. There are many instances of the golden ratio in his painting.

    Examples:

    The distance starting from the base of the neck to the center of the pupil, and the base of the neck to the top of the forehead.

    The distance from the right side of the face to the right side of top of the nose, and the width of the face at that point.

    The bottom of the chin to the bottom of the lips, and the bottom of the chin to the bottom of the nose

    these are only a few example of the golden ratio within the Mona Lisa. The fact that Leonardo da Vinci took so much care and consideration to include the ratio suggests the importance of this “number”

    Incorporating the golden ratio into any form of art or design is not an easy task. It’s also not fair to say that any design without the golden mean isn’t good. However, incorporating the golden section in any design is far more difficult to execute and thus, deserves proper recognition.

    • Boy Genius

      Do you have definite proof that it’s the golden ratio that makes the Mona Lisa beautiful? The fact that it does contain golden ratio’s doesn’t mean it’s the reason it’s good. Prove me wrong.

  • Rook

    The article was lead out with a heavily edited clip, with a laugh-track. Fuck everything it was trying to say after that.

  • bahar

    shut up plz, jennifer has a beautiful face and body
    head of angelina is very larger than her body

  • Bileu

    ashamed for who wrote this article. pls, rip it off. for the sake of the website.

  • André Fortin

    omg … this guy… do you realize golden ratio is true? and is the base for fractals not only human body bot across the universe… and no thats not Dawns Brawn idea, he used it as part of his background list “evidences” for his “S”tory.

    • Boy Genius

      If it’s true it should be applicable to everything perfectly, you can’t just ignore the moments it doesn’t fit your sense of reality.

  • Layla

    I completely agree with you.

    Sure, as a math addict, I respected math so much. It helps us build incredible houses, find gravity, and even created a golden ratio that people believe to have shown the perfect ratio of a perfect face. But as far as math goes, it doesn’t determine the beauty of someone. Yeah, maybe it could calculate how symmetrical a face is, and how a face is well structured, but beauty connects with heart, along with arts. Beauty doesn’t need calculation. When you look at someone beautiful, you don’t pay attention to their nose, or their forehead, or how symmetrical their face is. Even if they don’t have perfect face and obtain 7/6 in the golden ratio, you’ll still get stunned despite of their imperfections. Beauty don’t work on a logical way, no. It is based on desire, and desire relates with emotions and emotions relates with heart. Besides, if everything is judged by your mind, you’ll find sooooo many flaws even if those are beautiful things. Mind plays logic, where everything makes sense. Everywhere you go when you observe people it will be like, “A, that forehead is too big. Possibly 3 centimeters higher than others’ forehead. Hah ugly.” Or “that eyes. Ugh. Though it’s crystal clear blue it is toooooo small.” Or “The nose is too big. It expands about 2 centimeters. Her nose itself is like three centimeters long. Expand two and you’ll get five. A tank is like 8 cm thick. Omg look that their difference. Only three cm! Omg. So imperfect.”

    Yeah. Wonder how the world goes with mind.

    Well, For true golden ratio believers, if I offended you, I’m sorry, but that’s the truth.

    • http://inventikasolutions.com/ Inventika Solutions

      Thank you. This article has been up for over 2 years and you are the first one who agrees!

  • Michael Ferguson

    Thanks for writing this article, many of the common examples touted really seem more coincidence than anything to me. Even when the inclusion of phi is intentional it’s not really clear that that’s the actual reason it looks good..

    I went to a da Vinci exhibition recently, and while it was awesome I came away very unconvinced on many of these sorts of points. Sure, you look at the Mona Lisa and there are a number of curves and combinations of features that fit the golden ratio or a Fibonacci spiral perfectly. But then all the curves and combinations of feature that don’t are just ignored in this analysis. I’m pretty sure you could find these ratios and curves in any old paint splatter, I’m completely unconvinced that it’s meaningful.

    To be fair, it’s absolutely certain that many painters throughout history *have* made extensive use of the golden ratio. However I feel this makes the whole thing even less convincing. If everyone in the art/design world is convinced that the golden ratio is some magical thing and use it frequently then, well, of course it will crop up frequently in the greatest works: it already in nearly everything anyway!

    The other thing is that people are very vague on how close something has to be to count as a “fit”. Usually a feature in a painting isn’t a single point, so there’s a fair bit of leeway in lining things up. Am I measuring to the top of the eye or the centre? Or the bottom? Almost any ratio that’s about 1:1.5 can be tweaked so it seems pretty close to phi.

  • Boy Genius

    I think the golden ratio discussion comes down to: Do you believe in god or not?

  • Samantha Stephens

    Angelina Jolie is beautiful. Jennifer Aniston is a dog. I don’t need to get my eyes checked either.

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