» Dynamic Symmetry Grids Best for Photographers and Painters [140]
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Dynamic Symmetry Grids Best for Photographers and Painters [140]


What is Dynamic Symmetry?

Dynamic Symmetry is more than just lines. It’s a powerful tool for photographers, painters…serious artists. It’s the unbreakable structure in beautiful art, which has been kept a secret from us all. Dynamic symmetry is not found in schools alongside the rule of thirds; it’s not for the masses. Only the elite artists, those with a will to create something remarkable, will venture deeper and discover that the dynamic symmetry grids are the essential starting point for any masterpiece.

Dynamic symmetry is new to a lot of you, but it doesn’t have to be difficult to understand and apply. Learn from the mind-blowing PDF’s and top videos that guide you. With 140 unique dynamic symmetry grids, you’ll finally be able to properly organize your compositions like a master…on-location, on the computer, or within a sketch.

Launch past your plateau, and onto another exciting path in your artistic journey!


A Summary of the Amazing Content [Quick Links]

Here’s a helpful summary of everything that is covered throughout this page. Lot’s of great content on dynamic symmetry can be found, so enjoy!

  1. How do They Help Your Art?
  2. Beautiful Phi Grid Samples
  3. From Camera to Canvas [4 Videos]
  4. How to Easily Print and Apply them [Video]
  5. How to Use them in Fine Art Photography [Helpful Tips]
  6. How to Use them in Street Photography [Helpful Tips]
  7. How to Use them in a Drawing? [Helpful Tips]
  8. Dynamic Symmetry Package [What’s Included]
  9. All 140 Unique Grids [Details]
  10. Phi Grids Inspired by Ghyka [Cool Grids]
  11. Excellent for your Camera & More [Uses]
  12. Using the Grids in Lightroom [Grids & Shortcuts]
  13. Quick Light Pad Tracing
  14. Awesome Grids for Cinematographers
  15. Free Articles Included [Great Tips]
  16. How the Great Masters Used the Grids [Unbelievable!]
  17. Top Four Books for Learning More [FREE Downloads]


How do the Dynamic Symmetry Grids Help Your Art?

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Dynamic symmetry has been used for centuries to build and design masterpieces of all kinds…including the Parthenon, believe it or not. It all boils down to the geometry, but as visual artists, we don’t have to stress about understanding the math part of things. For instance, the golden ratio (phi ratio) is 1.618, but we don’t need to know how it creates the spiraling seeds of a sunflower, or the logarithmic spiral of a Nautilus shell. We can use the dynamic symmetry grids as visual tools to help organize our compositions and promote unity, movement, and rhythm.

I used these helpful grids (armatures) for my photography, but not in the way you might think. They helped me break the habit of plotting on a third like the rule of thirds grid. Man was that tough to break!

Taking the time and using the grids on my camera LCD helped me capture photos while incorporating coincidences (see Day 48) for more unity and movement, and rhythm by using gamut (see Day 38). Painters can use this same idea to capture reference photos and easily transfer the dynamic symmetry grid they used to their canvas (see video playlist).

I’ve also used the dynamic symmetry grids on my computer to analyze 100’s of master paintings and photographs (Annie Leibovitz). These simple, yet sophisticated grids are super convenient tools and provide the foundation you need to create a remarkable piece of art.

There are many other design techniques and tools you need to be familiar with to help create a masterpiece (arabesques, ellipses, radiating lines, and Gestalt principles), but dynamic symmetry is a great starting point.

Free Phi Dynamic Symmetry Grid Samples!

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FREE SAMPLES: test out the best dynamic symmetry grids out on your computer, camera, ipad, and phone 🙂 See how beautiful and convenient they are! Adjust them in Photoshop, or print onto transparency film.
Both US and European Sizes are available.

*The Master Pass members can enjoy 9 essential dynamic symmetry grids that have been updated and are available for free download on the Resources page.


Dynamic Symmetry Grids: From Camera, to Canvas Video

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In the video playlist I show you how the dynamic symmetry grids can be used to move seamlessly from camera to canvas. I also show how to create the basic armature of the root phi rectangle.

As mentioned in the golden ratio article, the dynamic symmetry grids are constructed very easily with a square. The example below shows how we can swing the diagonal down from the square to get the root two rectangle. After that, we swing the diagonal from the root two down to get the root three…and so on. Piece of cake!

golden-ratio-and-dynamic-symmetry-root Rectangles

*Just click on the image below and another window will present the playlist of amazing videos! Maximize your love for dynamic symmetry!

Other Videos Listed As:
“Dynamic Symmetry: How to Draw the Grids with Simple Math”
“Dynamic Symmetry for Photography and Using the Grid”
“How to Create a Photoshop Action for Dynamic Symmetry Grids”


How to Print and Apply the Dynamic Symmetry Grids Video

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To use the grids on your LCD screen is a piece of cake. I’ve got a video playlist that will show you how I use them. There’s also an updated video there that shows how to draw the dynamic symmetry grid onto a canvas.

PRINT: You’ll have to get them printed onto transparency film. You can also use window cling decals, but I know if they will last as long. The transparency film works great and it’s durable. I usually go to FedEx Office to get them printed, but other office supply stores will work too. Just give them a thumb drive or email them the sheets you need printed…everything is sized to print onto an 8.5 x 11 sheet (do not resize for printing, it will mess up the dimensions for your LCD).

CUT: Grab some scissors or have the office supply store cut them…they charge for it though. You can cut on the black border, but I usually leave approximately 1/16″ of clear transparency film on the outside of the black border.

TAPE: Use removable double-sided tape to adhere to your LCD, it works great and I recommend it for a cleaner aesthetic. I keep the tape on the grid and it can be used later. With my phone I take the grid off when not using it and adhere it to the back of my case. This way I always have one with me!

Size of Dynamic Symmetry Grid Sheets: 
8.5 x 11 or A4
Resolution: 300dpi
Line colors: 
Black for printing
TIFF, JPEG, PNG (Lightroom), and PSD (Photoshop format for adjusting)
Camera LCD Sizes:
Micro Four Thirds (Panasonic G85, Olympus), 2.95 inch LCD (Sony A6500 mirrorless), 3 inch LCD (Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sony A7RII), 3.2″ LCD (Canon, Nikon)
Phones and Screen Sizes and Brands: iPhone 7- 4.7″, iPhone 7 Plus- 5.5″, iPhone SE (or 5S)- 4″, Google Pixel XL- 5.5″, Samsung Galaxy Edge S7- 5.5″, HTC 10- 5.2″, Sony Xperia Z5- 5.5″, Huawei Mate 9- 5.9″, LG G5- 5.3″, Motorola Moto X Force- 5.4″, Nexus 6P- 5.7″, OnePlus 3T- 5.5″,
iPad Screen Sizes: 9.7″, 12.9″


How Do You Use the Dynamic Symmetry Grids in Fine Art Photography?

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These grids can be used by artists of any kind to be printed or used on a computer. When I use them to analyze master paintings or fine art photos I always use Photoshop. I create an action to place the grid onto the master work (video in the playlist here). I also use them to analyze my own photography (fine art and street), and help design drawings or potential paintings.

The fine art photograph below, was designed with the phi dynamic symmetry grid placed onto my camera LCD. It’s a self portrait too, so it was rather difficult.

I had the camera (Canon EOS 6D, 50mm f/1.4) on the tripod with a cable remote that took a photo every second. Mandy helped me adjust my focus, and you can see how the shutter speed was set to capture a bit of movement in the water. After the camera settings were determined, I composed to the phi grid…wanting to lock-in and parallel the diagonals of the waterfalls. The dark subjects were aligned with the white of the waterfall to help the figure-ground relationship.

Everything was set, so I pushed the start button on the remote, and ran over to the waterfalls. To help with figure-ground relationship and create some aerial perspective, I lit a smoke emitter. This also helped capture the light rays above-left. I absolutely love using smoke in photos!

I quickly splashed into the water and held the pose…two minutes or so…until the smoke emitter ran out. Mandy’s arms were meant to create diagonals that echo the diagonals of the waterfalls and the phi dynamic symmetry grid.

dynamic-symmetry-law-of-symmetry-waterfall-gestalt-psychology-photo-Tavis-Leaf-Glover-5The image was “snipped” (barely cropped) to adhere to the geometry of the phi grid. We can see how the subjects are off-center and act as a counterpart to the light rays on the left. The waterfalls parallel the diagonals, and we have a nice atmosphere with balance.

The grids help tremendously with creating unity, movement, and rhythm, but you also must pay attention to other design techniques…most importantly figure-ground relationship…the way the subject fits into the background.

dynamic-symmetry-law-of-symmetry-waterfall-gestalt-psychology-photo-Tavis-Leaf-Glover-phi-grid-5The phi rectangle is constructed a bit differently than the root rectangles. It’s still constructed from a square, but for this grid we swing a line down from the halfway point (all covered in the included PDF’s).

golden-ratio-and-dynamic-symmetry-phi rectangle built

How to Use the Dynamic Symmetry Grids in Street Photography

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The dynamic symmetry grids can easily be used in street photography, whether you shoot film or digital. If you are shooting digital, then you can attach the grid to your LCD as mentioned in the fine art photo section above. When shooting film, as in the image below, you will have to understand the basic armature of the 1.5 grid. The visual aid won’t be on your LCD because you don’t have one…it will be in your mind.

*These street photography images were not cropped to conform to the grid. They were not happenstance either…the intentions while shooting, were to capture the geometry.

dynamic-symmetry-in-street-photography-waikiki-surfer legs-222

That might sound complicated if you are new to dynamic symmetry, but it’s quite simple. Henri Cartier-Bresson (see #460) did this all the time to capture his geometry (see #472). To put it simply, try to incorporate more diagonals.

The 1.5 basic armature consists of only two major diagonals, and four reciprocal diagonals. We add the horizontals and verticals through the eyes (intersection points) of the diagonals (all covered in the included PDF’s). This is essentially the same process for building the armature of any root or phi rectangle.

Dynamic-symmetry-Reciprocals-for golden ratio-diagram

Side Note: This 1.5 grid (equal to a square and a half) is the same size as a 35mm cameras and most digital sensors, that’s why we use it for street photography. If you have a Micro Four-Thirds (M43) camera, there are various different grids for that size as well.

So, once you take a picture with film, you can analyze it later with the 1.5 grid in Photoshop or Lightroom (see below). This will show you how well you did, and also build your muscle memory for next time. Digital photographers, shooting with the grid on their LCD, should analyze their photography as well.

There are many different variations of the 1.5 grid. For example, the photo below utilizes the 1.5 rectangle with three root 4 grids inside of it (both black and white grids are included). This is more complex, but it’s all about area divisions and diagonals. We shouldn’t over complicate things. Composition is all about the organization of elements, and the various dynamic symmetry grids help us with that (also covered in PC&D book).

Follow the lines and see how things lock into the diagonals and verticals of the grid. Some things lock in exactly. I was organizing the elements for the 1.5 grid (in my head), but when analyzing in the computer, I found that it adheres to a more complex grid. Very cool!


How Do You Use the Dynamic Symmetry Grids in Drawings?

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Now, switching it up a bit from photography, we can apply the dynamic symmetry grids to our drawings as well. Here’s a preliminary drawing (11×14) I created, “Vegetables warming a pop-tart,” by first designing it in Photoshop with the computer grids.

After it was designed, I printed out the template onto 11×17 paper, traced the design onto nice paper. I think at the time I didn’t have a light pad, so I used the sliding glass door on the back porch…works great! Once the outline of the design was on nice paper, I completed it with Conte Pencil.

My drawing skills can always be improved (which is why I created a drawing game), but the important thing is that I was incorporating dynamic symmetry and following in the great tradition of master painters.


Dynamic Symmetry Package – What’s Included?

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Too long, didn’t read? Don’t feel like reading more about the dynamic symmetry grids, and just want to buy everything now? Click on the button below and you’ll be transported to the shoppe where you can get everything!  This way if/when you change your gear, you will always have a grid to fit all or your needs.

Dynamic Symmetry Grids PACKAGE Includes:
1. All 126 high resolution individual grids for computer use.
(both formats TIFF and JPEG, both white and black)
2. All 14 high resolution PHI grids inspired by Ghyka
(both formats TIFF and JPEG, both white and black)
3. All Light Pad grids
4. All camera grids (24 grids, Four sizes-2.95″ (Sony A6500 mirrorless), 3 inch (Canon, Sony A7RII, Nikon), 3.2″(Canon, Nikon), and M43 (Olympus, Panasonic G85)
5. All phone grids (24 grids, 8 different sizes total)
6. All iPad grids (24 grids, Two sizes- 9.7″ and 12.9″)
7. All Lightroom Grids (560 different variations, format PNG)
8. PDF on Dynamic Symmetry
9. PDF on Overlapping Root Rectangles
10. PDF on Compound Rectangles
11. PDF on Themes of Root Rectangles
12. PDF on Blade Runner 2049 – Analyzed Cinema Part 1
13. PDF on Blade Runner 2049 – Analyzed Cinema Part 2
14. PDF on Blade Runner 2049 – Analyzed Cinema Part 3
EMAIL Download includes:
140 – ALL Grids package for US and A4 sizes (computer, camera, iPad, cinematography, light pad)
7 – PDF’s for understanding dynamic symmetry

[140 unique grids, and over 1500 sorted files in the entire package!]

After purchasing the package, you will receive an email within 1-8 hours that will include your download links. On a MOBILE DEVICE? No worries! With the link in the email you can get the goodies when you’re back at your main computer.

Download Size: 5.09GB

$31.94 $8.99 SAVE!

All 140 Dynamic Symmetry Grids Listed: For Computer Use

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All of the dynamic symmetry grids are listed below and there are tons to use on your computer for analyzing or designing a photograph or painting. There are 140 total! This includes 126 various grids, and 14 phi grids. All high resolution grids have ratios embedded on them so you’ll never forget. Plus, there are a ton of different layouts that have never been seen before (like overlapping, themes, and compound rectangles).

Square– Basic, MAD
Phi (aka Golden Section, Golden Mean, Golden Rectangle, Divine Proportion, etc) – Basic, MAD, Whirling Squares, Overlapping 1, Overlapping 1 MAD 6, Overlapping 1 MAD 24, Phi-MAD stacked, Phi-Overlapping MAD-Increment 1x, Phi-Overlapping MAD-Increment 2x, Phi-Overlapping-Increment 1x, Phi-Overlapping-Increment 2x, Phi-stacked, Phi-theme of_4x, Phi-theme of 8x
Root Phi– Basic, MAD, Overlapping 1 MAD 6, Overlapping 1 MAD 24, Root Phi-MAD-overlapping 1x, Root Phi-MAD-overlapping 2x, Root Phi-MAD-overlapping 3x, Root Phi-MAD-overlapping 4x, Root Phi-stacked, Root Phi-MAD-stacked, Root Phi-overlapping 1x, Root Phi-overlapping 2x, Root Phi-overlapping 3x, Root Phi-overlapping 4x, Root Phi-theme of 4x, Root Phi-theme of 8x
Root 9-Root 9, Root 9-Theme of 3x, Root 9-side by side, Root 9-MAD, Root 9-3 Squares, Root 9-MAD stacked, Root 9-stacked,
Root 6– Root 6, Root 6-Theme of 3x, Root 6-rebated square and phi center, Root 6-MAD, Root 6-MAD-rebated square and phi center, Root 6-6 side by side, Root 6-3x-rebated square and phi center, Root 3-Theme of 3x, Root 6-overlapping 1-MAD 66, Root 6-overlapping 1, Root 6-overlapping-2-MAD 60, Root 6-overlapping 2, Root 6-overlapping 3, Root 6-overlapping-3-MAD 54, Root 6-overlapping 4, Root 6-overlapping-4-MAD 48, Root 6-overlapping 5, Root 6-overlapping-5-MAD 42, Root 6-stacked
Root 5– Basic, MAD, 5 Side by Side, 2 Overlapping Phi, Overlapping 1, Overlapping 1 MAD 45, Overlapping 2, Overlapping 2 MAD 40, Overlapping 3, Overlapping 3 MAD 35, Overlapping 4, Overlapping 4 MAD 30, Root 5-two overlapping phi, Root 5-MAD, Root 5-5 side by side, Root 5-MAD stacked, Root 5-stacked, Root 5-theme of 5, Root 5-theme of 6, Root 5-theme of 10, Root 5-theme of 30
Root 4– Basic, MAD, 4 Side by Side, Three 1.5’s, Overlapping 1, Overlapping 1 MAD 28, Overlapping 2, Overlapping 2 MAD 24, Overlapping 3, Overlapping 3 MAD 20, Root 4-theme of 4, Root 4-theme of 8, Root 4-theme of 20
Root 3– Basic, MAD, 3 Side by Side, Overlapping 1, Overlapping 1 MAD 15, Overlapping 2, Overlapping 2 MAD 12, Root 3-MAD stacked, Root 3-stacked, Root 3-theme of 3, Root 3-theme of 4, Root 3-theme of 6, Root 3-theme of 12
Root 2– Basic, MAD, 2 Side by Side, Overlapping 1, Overlapping 1 MAD 6,  Overlapping 1 MAD 24, Root 2-theme of 3, Root 2-theme of 4, Root 2-theme of 6
1.5– Basic, MAD, 3 Root 4’s, 1.5-grid of rebated squares, 1.5-MAD stacked, 1.5-stacked, 1.5-theme of 4x, 1.5-theme of 8x
Micro 4/3– Basic, MAD, 1.5 Side by Side, 3 Root 4’s
Phi Inspired by Ghyka– 14 different phi grids inspired by Ghyka’s book “The Geometry of Art and Life”
Diagonal Gauge– including diagonals for the square, root phi, root 2, 1.5, phi, root 3, root 4, root 5

Size of Grids:
Averaging 10 inches wide (3000px), Height varies
Resolution: 300dpi
Line colors: Both white and black
Formats: TIFF (with transparent background, JPEG (with white or black background)


Phi Dynamic Symmetry Grids Inspired by Ghyka

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If you’ve been learning about phi and dynamic symmetry, then you’ve probably heard of Matila Ghyka, the author of “The Geometry of Art and Life.” It’s a great book even though it’s loaded with mathematical equations that I’ll never understand.

While I was reading the book for reference, I saw the various phi rectangles that Ghyka displayed in the book. I thought it would be fun to recreate these and make them available to artists that are interested in using the phi rectangle in their work.

These phi grids are awesome, and there’s 14 of them! Twelve of them can be seen in the example above. These are meant for the computer because they are mostly serviceable to painters, graphic designers, and illustrators. They can be used for photography, but it would be best to have them on the computer to design your photograph…as opposed to an LCD.

“Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art.” ~ Frank Lloyd Wright


Dynamic Symmetry Grids are Excellent for your Camera, Phone, iPad, or Light Pad

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The dynamic symmetry grids are perfectly sized to fit your camera LCD, phone, Light Pad, and iPad. This way you have grids no matter what camera you are using. You’ll get 24 of the most useful grids in each option (details further below).

Do we really need a dynamic symmetry grid for iPad’s? Yes, I’ll give you an example. I own a Canon 6D with WIFI capabilities. This means I can use my iPad for the LCD instead of the smaller one on the camera. I can place the printed grid onto the iPad and have a larger area to help me compose the image. Perfect!

Sheets are ready to print and available in PSD (Photoshop File) to adjust as necessary. Why would you need to adjust them? Well, as you work with them on location or in the studio, you’ll start to favor certain rectangles…depending on your subjects. This way you can adjust the file to have several of the same rectangle on one sheet to save on printing costs.

dynamic-symmetry-grid-for-photography-applying-to-camera-3 dynamic-symmetry-grid-for-photography-applying-to-camera-2 dynamic-symmetry-grid-for-photography-compilation-of-grids

Using the Grids in Lightroom

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All 140 grids can be used in Lightroom with ease! Created for the artistic photographers out there that want more than just the basics.

To use the grids, just go to View, Loupe Overlay, Choose Layout Image, then select the grid you want to use (MAC=Command+Option+Shift+O, PC=Control+ALT+Shift+O). The dynamic symmetry grids are formatted to show the lines over your image, and it works perfect. You can even select “Recent Layout Images.”

To toggle the grids on and off use a shortcut! (MAC=Command+Option+O, PC=Control+ALT+O)
The grids for Lightroom are created in vertical, horizontal, white, and black.

This means you get a total of 560 grids just for Lightroom!

Now you have tons of amazing design options for your masterful photography.

Dynamic Symmetry Grids for Light Pad Tracing

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If you like to draw with a light pad, using these specific sized grids will get you masterful results. They are sized to the “Huion Light Pad LB4” and you can usually find it in Amazon (sized close to 11x14in).

I bought this and recommend it because it is huge, battery operated, bright, dimmable, and wireless. It fits inside my backpack and lasts several hours. I also use it as an overhead light in my mobile studio above my desk.

The Light Pad dynamic symmetry grids include all 140 grids and they are sized to fit the light pad mentioned above. This means you can print them onto 11×17 or A3 sized paper, and cut them on the provided line. They can then be slide underneath your drawing paper to allow you to use the grid when drawing.

Here’s a drawing I completed by using the light pad, the grid “Phi Overlapping MAD 24, Increment: 1,” and some inspiration from Pablo Picasso. I placed the basic armature of the phi grid on the top and bottom of the composition just to simplify the lines a bit. Note the major diagonals and the areas locking into the grid.

Even though this drawing, “Shower Room of a Goddess,” may not be the perfect subject matter for your tastes (nor is the rendering perfect), it certainly attempts to employ the masterful composition, design, and Gestalt psychology techniques of the masters.

Using a light pad isn’t cheating…the masters used similar methods like the Camera Obscura all the time. Designing your composition with dynamic symmetry in mind is only part of an artists battle. The rendering of light and volume is something completely on it’s own level….something I hope to get better at in the near future.



Dynamic Symmetry Grids for Cinematographers

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Finally, grids for cinematographers! These utilize some of the standard cinema ratios (16:9, 21:9), all while incorporating the power of dynamic symmetry. And guess what? You can even use them for your drone and aerial composition!

Dynamic Symmetry Grids included for Cinematographers:
1. Twenty Grids Total (Root 5, Root 5-two overlapping phi, Root 5-MAD, Root 5-5 side by side, Root 3, Root 3-MAD, Root 3-3 side by side, Root 9, Root 9-Theme of 3x, Root 9-side by side, Root 9-MAD, Root 9-3 Squares, Root 6, Root 6-Theme of 3x, Root 6-rebated square and phi center, Root 6-MAD, Root 6-MAD-rebated square and phi center, Root 6-6 side by side, Root 6-3x-rebated square and phi center, Root 3-Theme of 3x)
2. Camera Sizes– 2.95 inch (Sony A6500 mirrorless), 3 inch (Canon, Sony A7RII), 3.2 inch (Canon, Nikon), M43, (Olympus, Panasonic G85)
3. Eight Phone Sizes– (4 inch, 4.7 inch, 5.2 inch, 5.3 inch, 5.4 inch, 5.5 inch, 5.7 inch, 5.9 inch). Sized specifically for video use on cell phones. This means they are longer than the photo grids and take up the whole screen.
4. Computer Grids-20 high-resolution dynamic symmetry grids to analyze screenshots on the computer.
5. PDF on Dynamic Symmetry
6. PDF on Compound Rectangles
7. PDF on Overlapping Root Rectangles
8. PDF on Themes of Root Rectangles
9. PDF on Blade Runner 2049 – Analyzed Cinema Part 1
10. PDF on Blade Runner 2049 – Analyzed Cinema Part 2
11. PDF on Blade Runner 2049 – Analyzed Cinema Part 3

Dynamic-Symmetry-with-Bladerunner-2049-trailer-analyzed-cinema-with-root-6-theme-3x-grid-artWhen the phi calipers are used to analyze a screenshot of Blade Runner 2049, we can see how it fits the proportions from top to bottom, and left to right.Dynamic-Symmetry-with-Bladerunner-2049-trailer-analyzed-cinema-phi-calipers-5
In the PDF articles within the package, I show you how the root 6 grid was configured by using the proportions of the golden ratio. See the small rectangle in the middle? It has the beautiful proportions of the phi ratio.


Free Articles to Understand the Dynamic Symmetry Grids

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To help you understand  the dynamic symmetry grids, I’m going to include seven FREE PDF articles with every order.

1. The first free article is “The Simplicity & Beaty of Dynamic Symmetry” (see Day 14) , which covers how the root rectangles are constructed from the square, the ratios, and the root rectangle grids.

2. You’ll also get a PDF of “Composition with Overlapping Root Rectangles” (see #419), which will help you understand how to properly overlap root rectangles. You might have noticed from the list of grids that there are some new terms. To simplify the terminology, “Overlapping 1,” means it’s a bigger rectangle than “Overlapping 3.” The number “1” refers to the increment (see PDF to understand).

When it reads “MAD 45”, this just means “Major Area Divisions” and the number refers to how many smaller rectangles are within the two overlapping mother rectangles. So, if the dynamic symmetry grid reads “Root 5: Overlapping MAD 45, Increment 1” it means there are two overlapping root 5 rectangles on the first increment, with 45 smaller root 5 rectangles within them. You can see this in the simplified example above.

3. Another great article that is included is “Composition with Compound Root Rectangle” (see Day 155), which shows how master painters like Picasso, Titian, and Bouguereau used compound root rectangles to design their masterpieces.

4. You’ll get the article “Dynamic Symmetry: Themes of Root Rectangles” (see #438)which will show you in-depth how to construct the different themes of root rectangles. It’s a great discovery that is not covered anywhere else!

5. Finally, you’ll get all three PDF’s that cover the cinematography of the movie Blade Runner 2049 (see #448, #449, #450). This will show cinematographers how to analyze cinematic screenshots, configure the dynamic symmetry grid, and be aware of certain areas to avoid.

Dynamic Symmetry Being Used by Masters

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Take a look at the masterful pieces of art below to see what it looks like when the dynamic symmetry grids are placed onto them. You’ll see how the masters like Vincent Van Gogh used these to create unity, movement and rhythm throughout their work. He uses the root phi grid in his chair painting.

Usually I will use the white grids and a darkened background to analyze paintings, but the black grids can also be used. In this next example by Euan Uglow I placed the black grids and lightened the background.

Uglow uses two root phi grids side by side.

Salvador Dali uses the phi grid to compose this next painting. You will see a small square in the lower section of the grid. Draw a line up from this and you’ll see how it creates a square. Four lines can be seen to designate the location of the square.

Pablo Picasso uses two phi rectangles that are stacked onto each other.

Several sculptors created this statue of Laocoon by designing it in a root phi rectangle.

Henri Cartier-Bresson always used the diagonals and reciprocals of the 1.5 rectangle. The 1.5 rectangle is the same size as most camera sensors.

Gustav Klimt used overlapping phi rectangles in his painting. We can see him using a grid of 24 smaller phi rectangles.


Annie Leibovitz uses the root 4 rectangle to organize this group of celebrity woman (see Day 2). We can also see how three 1.5 rectangles fit perfectly inside the root 4 and can be used to design the photo.

The cinematographer of Game of Thrones, Alik Sakharov, uses the root 3 rectangle to help compose this scene. The root 3 rectangle (ratio=1.732) has a ratio that is very close to the 16:9 frame ratio (ratio= 1.777), so it can be used by cinematographers to compose their scenes.  The root 5 rectangle (ratio=2.236) can also be used because it has a ratio that is very close to the 21:9 frame ratio (ratio=2.333).


Top Four Books Related to Dynamic Symmetry

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1. Jay Hambidge teaches us the geometry of rectangles which can be applied to our compositions in the book “The Elements of Dynamic Symmetry.” This won’t show you how to construct a masterful composition, but it is a great reference for when you are using dynamic symmetry within your art. You can refer to it for the mathematical side of things dealing with root rectangle construction, area divisions, reciprocals, and compound root rectangles.

Public Domain PDF Download HERE.

2. This next book is by Charles Bouleau, called “The Painter’s Secret Geometry,” will provide an in-depth look at dynamic symmetry and how it was used in master paintings. He give’s great examples, but won’t really show you how to create your own masterpiece using the techniques he’s revealing.

Unfortunately there isn’t a Free PDF download, but it was just republished and you can find it on Amazon for a great price.

3. The book, “Dynamic Symmetry a Primer,” by Christine Herter, follows in the footsteps of Jay Hambidge. Additionally, it has some really nice variations of dynamic symmetry armatures creating unique grids. She really shows how to utilize the square within a root rectangle to create a unique design. She also demonstrates how to create a unique design from the armature created within the rectangle. This specific construction of the dynamic symmetry grids wasn’t covered very much in Hambidge’s book, so it’s a great one to add to the collection.

This is another one of those rare books, but you can also find the printed version on Amazon. Any free PDF’s floating around out there violate copyright, so be aware, and give the artist proper support.


4. Another one for the dynamic symmetry book shelf is “The Art of Composition,” by Michel Jacob. He covers many of the same things that Hambidge covers, but less geometry and ratios, and more illustrations and grid overlays. He actually goes out of his way to not mention anything mathematical, which a lot of us artists can appreciate. Some other interesting dynamic symmetry tips he covers, is building different root rectangles inside of the square. Also, overlapping root rectangles within the square.

Some draw backs are the overly simplified illustrations. Granted, this book is pretty old, so they are better than nothing. It would be great to see them applied to master paintings.

One of the major portions of the book that I completely disagreed with is when he begins to teach that there is a “principle point of interest.” This principle point of interest (page 37) of the dynamic symmetry grid seems to change with each demonstration. This can cause some confusion with the reader. It has the dangerous potential of misleading the reader, and could have them creating generic images that resemble the rule of thirds. We don’t want to be lead down a dead end road.

We always must consider the whole composition, and not base the location of our subject on a dictated point. If we did, then we would easily disregard other important techniques for visual clarity like figure-ground relationship.

Additionally, some illustrations don’t reflect the lines he is overlaying onto them. On page 66 he shows a religious figure being locked into the verticals of two overlapping root twos. More important than this placement are the diagonals being created by the figure.

This is why master paintings would’ve been exceptional to show, because the figure would represent multiple design techniques, instead of concentrating on the placement. What I mean by this is the figure would look much better with an arabesque and some more negative space at the top (breathing room).

He also demonstrates the logarithmic spiral within an overlay, but it’s not perceived within the design (page 72). Visual perception is a huge part of design, that’s why it’s important to learn Gestalt pychology principles. If it’s supposedly designed in a certain way, but not perceived in this way by the viewer, then it’s missed it’s mark.

All around, it’s a great book for beginners to advance, and helps understand dynamic symmetry a lot better. There are some pitfalls to be aware of…especially if you are just learning about design, but I’ve covered most of them within this short review.

Public Domain PDF Download HERE.

SIDE NOTE: One other really cool coincidence I’d like to mention about Michel Jacobs book, is that on page 117 he shows how to draw the grid in perspective. This instantly reminded me of a great artist by the name of Scott Robertson.

5. Here’s a bonus book I thought was worth mentioning, and it’s “How to Draw,” by Scott Robertson. If you enjoy drawing the dynamic symmetry grids, then you’ll probably like the line constructions he demonstrates. You can also take these line constructions and build really complex structures.

Robertson’s book, in turn, also reminds me of the bottle constructions we were assigned at The Barnstone Studios. Below, you can see some of my bottle constructions…very much like the basic designs in Robertson’s book.
dynamic symmetry used for drawing-Bottle-barnstone-glover-construction
dynamic symmetry used for drawing-Bottle-barnstone-glover-three drawings
dynamic symmetry used for drawing-Bottle-barnstone-glover-single

6. This leads us to the final bonus, which isn’t a book, but quite amazing. It’s Myron Barnstone’s DVD series. He was my mentor, and within his videos he teaches dynamic symmetry with great authority. Myron covers the construction of the root rectangles, the armature, the phi rectangle, and the root two rectangle. He also digs deep into master paintings and demonstrates how dynamic symmetry was incorporated to create unity, movement, and rhythm. Check out his amazing videos if you ever get a chance!

Here’s a photo of Myron when I traveled to Maryland to conduct his interview, February 2015. Great memories!

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