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What is the rule of thirds, and how can you apply it in your graphic designs?

Photographers often use the rule of thirds for capturing perfect clicks. But graphic designers can also use it for turning a design into a thing of beauty. 

Rule of thirds is fairly easy to grasp, but this simple concept can make you a really good designer.

What is the Rule of Thirds?

This rule states that if you have a canvas and divide it into three equal horizontal and three equal vertical sections, then the resulting grid will be a roadmap for placing your design elements.

Any efficient photo editing software will have the feature to automatically apply a rule of thirds grid to your canvas and crop accordingly if needed. 

But the grid is fairly easy to draw on your own, and you can even draw it directly onto a printed design if need be.

Use this grid as a guide

Applying this grid enables you to create balance throughout your design. The rule of thirds can be used to balance the design while creating an attractive focal point. 

Any professional graphic designer would know the importance of composition and balance in graphic design. 

You must understand that symmetry and balance are not to be used interchangeably. Your design must be balanced, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be symmetrical.

In fact, most people are attracted to things that are asymmetrical. As a graphic designer, you can use this to your advantage.

The rule of thirds will help you in making a design that uses great balance and composition but is still visually interesting. A great starting point for an asymmetrical design is to move your key elements to the right or left side of the grid. 

The grid is there to provide guidance for your design, but it isn’t a hard and fast rule. You are not required to align all of your elements to only one side.

Rule of thirds applies and printing media

The rule of third is not just limited to the photographs and other elements that go into your print design. The grid can also be applied to most print templates. 

However, there may be some cases when you might work with a uniquely shaped media which won’t allow the grid to help you because you will be unable to divide the canvas evenly.

Rule of thirds can still be applied to most print media layouts for ensuring that the most important aspects of the design are visible to the audience. 

If you are using a large photograph in your design or an image for your background which takes up the majority of your canvas, then the rule of thirds will be applied to the print design the same way it applies to an image or photograph.

You must remember that the rule of thirds applies separately to each page for folded materials. You shouldn’t apply it to your entire print canvas. 

When you are utilizing this technique, you should treat each panel of the marketing collateral as its own separate canvas. 

Austin Terrill

Austin is the founder and CEO of Print Peppermint. He loves art, graphic design, printing, music, recording gear, synthesizers, and ice cream. He lives in Berlin with his wife and two children.
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