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How is the rule of thirds used in design in 2023?

How is the rule of thirds used in design? If you want to be a professional graphic designer, photographer or artist, there are some basic rules and principles that you need to understand and apply in your creation process.

One such rule is the rule of thirds. In this article, we will explain what it is and exactly how professionals apply it to achieve visually appealing photos and artworks.

What is the rule of thirds?

The rule of thirds is a fundamental principle in design which involves dividing a design or image into nine equal parts using two horizontal and two vertical lines to form a grid. 

Use rule of thirds

You do not have to physically draw the grid but just have an imaginary view of it when you look at your artwork, subject or working area. The rule helps you achieve asymmetry which appears to be more appealing to viewers.

Example: When you have an artwork or design with the subject in the middle, it is static and seems less dynamic to the eye or viewer. For example the lion image below.

rule of thirds

Example 2: Below is another image with a lion on the far right. It allows the viewer to get a feel of the background and is more dynamic. You will find your eye moving from the blank areas, towards the subject.

rule of thirds

How does the rule of thirds help in design

  1. It helps you Balancing Elements in your design or composition
  2. It helps you Frame and Focus important elements of your design
  3. Creating Movement and overall dynamism in design
  4. Helps Break design Monotony while still Applying Consistency

Balancing Elements

The proper use of the rule of thirds will help you achieve balance in your design. 

By placing key elements along the gridlines or at their intersections your design or photo will easily balance the overall look and develop visually appeal and interest.

Frame and Focus important elements 

Some parts of your design or photo are more important than others. You need to position them in a way that the most important elements are more visible and get to the viewer faster and easier.

At the same time, they need to be positioned in a way that they work perfectly with other less important elements to make an overall appealing look.

The rule of thirds will help you, Frame and Focus important elements of your design to communicate better.

Important elements, such as a subject in a photograph or a headline in a layout, are often positioned along the gridlines or at intersections to draw the viewer’s attention.

By aligning elements with the grid, designers will also achieve harmony and proportion between elements in their work.

Creating Movement and overall dynamism

The rule of thirds can guide the viewer’s eye through the design, leading them from one element to another in a natural and engaging way. A good example is the lion image we had earlier.

Helps Break design Monotony while still Applying Consistency

Avoiding central placement of elements helps prevent monotony and creates more dynamic and engaging designs.

Consistently using the rule of thirds across various design elements in a project can provide a cohesive and polished look.


The key difference between good and bad graphic design is in the proper application of graphic design principles. 

Understanding the proper use of the rule of thirds, will help you easily achieve most of the principles.

It will help you Balance elements in your design, frame and focus important elements of your design, achieve harmony and proportion, create movement in design and Break design Monotony while still Applying Consistency.

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