» Golden Ratio and Mona Lisa [Art Techniques]
  • Shallow vs Deep DOF: Storytelling in Photography
    #503 Welcome back everyone, thanks for joining in today! I appreciate all of the amazing support! We’re going to be looking at depth of field and how your f/stop can help or hinder your storytelling. This article is great for beginners or professionals because it’s widely being taught that bokeh is a necessity, rather than […]

Golden Ratio and Mona Lisa [Art Techniques]

golden ratio-mona lisa-da vinci-phi calipers-intro


Welcome back everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve done a golden ratio (phi caliper) analyzation, so here we go. If you have ever heard of them being used on the Mona Lisa painting by Leonard da Vinci, then you heard right. He used them all over the place. In fact, I’m sure there are several other areas in which I missed. The point is, you can use these phi calipers as a tool for creating harmonic proportions throughout your painting.

(If you are looking for a set of phi calipers, I found mine HERE. They are in great shape still and built very well. The carrying case is pretty cool too.)

The golden ratio can be found in many beautiful paintings, structures, the human body, and nature. It’s everywhere, and has mesmerized people for centuries! The Egyptians, Greeks, and famous mathematicians like Fibonacci new of the magical proportions of the golden ratio (1.618).

You may know the golden ratio as a different name because there quite a few…golden mean, golden section, goldener Schnitt, phi, phi ratio, etc. We could talk all day about this amazing ratio and how it relates to our dynamic symmetry grids, but let’s get into the meat and potatoes of the article.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways Da Vinci uses his phi calipers!

This is much different than using the rectangle of the whirling squares to analyze the Mona Lisa painting. We aren’t looking for a swirling arabesque like a Nautilus shell; we are looking for the proportions created between the three points.

In the example below, we can see the whirling squares inside the phi dynamic symmetry grid.



We can use the phi calipers to create the proportions of the golden ratio within our art. The masters used these tools extensively.

Notice how the calipers align to our phi dynamic symmetry grid perfectly.


We can see how the top of her head, her chin, and top of her blouse match the proportions of the phi calipers. Let’s take a look at the other images and see how Leonardo da Vinci incorporated the golden ratio into this well-known masterpiece.

mona_lisa-Calipers30 mona_lisa-Calipers29 mona_lisa-Calipers28 mona_lisa-Calipers27 mona_lisa-Calipers26 mona_lisa-Calipers25 mona_lisa-Calipers24 mona_lisa-Calipers23 mona_lisa-Calipers22 mona_lisa-Calipers21 mona_lisa-Calipers20 mona_lisa-Calipers19 mona_lisa-Calipers18 mona_lisa-Calipers17 mona_lisa-Calipers16 mona_lisa-Calipers15 mona_lisa-Calipers14 mona_lisa-Calipers13 mona_lisa-Calipers12 mona_lisa-Calipers11 mona_lisa-Calipers10 mona_lisa-Calipers9 mona_lisa-Calipers8 mona_lisa-Calipers7 mona_lisa-Calipers6 mona_lisa-Calipers5 mona_lisa-Calipers4 mona_lisa-Calipers3 mona_lisa-Calipers2 mona_lisa-Calipers1After that long list, are you starting to get a feel for how these phi calipers can be used to incorporate the golden ratio into a painting? Seurat used his (see Day 67), just as Da Vinci did. Great for mapping out your sketch and even using while you are painting if you miss your block in marks.

Thanks again for all of the support everyone! Keep sharing the love! See you next time.


IPOX studios, LLC - Canon of Design - Copyright 2018. All Rights Reserved. Up
Becoming a Master Photographer