ugaldew's blog

Photography Composition Guides (improved)

posted by ugaldew, Feb 1, 2007 8:59 PM — 50 comments

Photography composition guides : the next tutorial is a very practical way of creating compositions geometrically interesting , no much theory but lots of action, We will use composition guides that you can download to check whether the subject of our image is in the center of interest and if the elements keep a relation among them , I think is a great and really easy way to get a interesting compositions

Before we start , where do these guides come from ?

In beauty arts , famous paintings , buildings , photographs , even biological forms , there a couple of very well known , recurrent patterns such as root 5 , phi number , golden ratio etc , so the next geometrical guides are graphic representations of those proportions



Bruce Barnbaum

Dan Burkholder

As i said I wont bore you with lots of theory .... I advice you yo visit the great Jodie Coston's Lessons at Morguefile ;)

Now lets bring some action here !!



> GIF Files

Thanks to Jef Geeraerts (LittleMan) and Paulo Porta

Whats in the box ?

Basic Guides for Photography

Half / Thirds

Quarts/ Root 5

Golden Ratio and derivates

When do we use these Guides ?

1 To check a composition.- To check easily whether the subject is actually in the center of interest and to see if there is a relation among its elements.

2.- When we are reframing a picture . Sometimes it is difficult to know what the composition will be at the time of shoting so if we take a wide shot , then we can edit it , using these formats to create the composition and know exactly where to crop move or rotate ,following a geometrical pattern that will make our pic more interesting !

Paulo Porta


>> Step 1
Open Image
Open your picture in Photoshop

By Saul Santos Diaz

>> Step 2
Select the Custom Shape tool

Go to the tool's window and then to the shape tools section and select Custom Shape tool

>> Step 2b
Load the Geometrical guides library

In the top of photo shop ( in the properties custom shape tool) you will find a shape button press it , then press the arrow button in the window just pop up and then select Load Shapes from the menu that pop up , and then select the CSH file of Geometry custom library

>> Step 3
Select one of the Guides you have just load and Draw it in your Picture

Press the again the Shape button in the custom shape properties at the top of you photoshop and then select the guide you want to work with

>> Step 3a
Draw the shape into your picture

Draw the guide and press SHIFT while dragging so it is not distorted

>> Step 4
Based on the shape now then you can crop or move or rotate as you please

The Shape will be loaded into a new shape layer that you can erase or turn off when you are done checking you composition

Golden Ratio

By Robbie Ribeiro (Robmania)

By Robbie Ribeiro (Robmania)

By Robbie Ribeiro (Robmania)

Paulo Porta

Paulo Porta

Paulo Porta

Root Five


Golden Ratio derivates



> GIF Files

Personal Note

( if we graph the numbers of any system patterns will emerge !)

by this is my way to say there are no unbreakable rules and less for art , this is a way to math certain information that we are not usually aware of ! . Never the less , even when it helps it is not a golden rule to get a great pic or refuse other which dont have it !

I would like to Thank to :

Jodie Coston for the wonderful tutorials that are always helpful and an inspiration

Paulo Porta For the awsome tutorials he keeps online and for the georgeous aplication of the basic forms into the guides thanks

Jef Geeraerts (LittleMan) For the great help of adding the guidelines into the custom shape libraries

Again I hope you have found this tutorial useful , and that you have enjoyed as much as I did writing it , please feel free to ask anything or write an email to if you have more doubts or comments about this tutorial

Miguel Ugalde Ugaldew

Comments | RSS

1. posted by Kiet9, Nov 24, 2009 7:41 PM

Thanks for your information :)

Marie Curie scientist website:

2. posted by tuoitho, Oct 23, 2009 10:15 AM

yeah, a nice tutorial it is :) but the beauty of photography is that one should do this when pressing the button on the photo :) thi is what I think

3. posted by ccgonzales, Apr 20, 2007 4:34 PM

Wow, this is great! Thank you!

4. posted by xyz, Feb 2, 2007 2:30 PM

What would be cool is that the cameras of the near future will have the golden ratio as a standard "sight" if you know what I mean. You peek through the hole and you see the lines that represent the golden ratio. Or do these cameras already exist?

Anyway, nice tutorial.

5. posted by Odyssee, Feb 4, 2007 12:43 PM

This is done pretty well! Good job. Will use it entirely on many of my pictures just to give them the last thing. THANKS !

6. posted by niloc, Feb 7, 2007 8:56 PM

Thanks! Makes sense, actually!

7. posted by LittleMan, Feb 9, 2007 5:22 PM

From all the possible ways i definitly frefer the costum apes...


8. posted by ugaldew, Feb 11, 2007 3:17 PM

@4 Thank you Jef You Rock !!!

9. posted by rajap28g, Feb 14, 2007 12:46 PM

This is a very good tutorial. In fact, a novice can know all the tricks of good compositions with this tutorial.

10. posted by fenderkiss, Feb 15, 2007 1:21 PM

You peek through the hole and you see the lines that represent the golden ratio. Or do these cameras already exist?

^^the canon ixus 65 already features a similar function - on its huge widescreen display, you can turn on a raster consisting of 9 pieces. its not golden ratio, but anyway it helps!
have a look at canon's website

11. posted by trazos, Feb 15, 2007 7:33 PM

Thank you Jef ... very good

12. posted by trazos, Feb 15, 2007 7:33 PM

Thank you Jef ... very good

13. posted by rono_bd, Feb 17, 2007 8:22 AM

Very helpful fo rme

14. posted by escribanto, Feb 23, 2007 11:23 AM

Thank you, this tutorial is fullness of geometrical magic XD, it helps to me in my diary work.

15. posted by grafiks4u, Feb 23, 2007 6:26 PM

Fantastic information. I can't wait to try it out. Thank you.

16. posted by danjill, Mar 5, 2007 5:40 AM

Thank you. A very useful lesson. Some of us can use all the help we can get.

17. posted by ralev_com, Mar 8, 2007 11:46 AM

yeah, a nice tutorial it is :) but the beauty of photography is that one should do this when pressing the button on the photo :) thi is what I think

18. posted by igloonaut, Mar 8, 2007 3:26 PM

Thanks - some great advice. How do these work in portrait mode rather than landscape mode - holding shift constrains the shape but to landscape.

19. posted by haloocyn, Mar 11, 2007 12:06 AM

great job - just what i needed!

20. posted by chrispua, Mar 15, 2007 6:50 AM

Hi Miguel, This is a very useful tutorial especially with the custom shape labries that Jef created. It's very practical and easy to understand. Great Job!

21. posted by vrhoon, Mar 20, 2007 4:52 PM

Thanks for the advice. Very useful!

22. posted by vttico, Mar 20, 2007 7:16 PM

thank man i like this tutorial.bye

23. posted by RAKZO27, Mar 24, 2007 6:27 PM

Very useful tutorial, thanks!.

24. posted by Pitercito, Mar 26, 2007 10:54 PM


25. posted by Vanini, Mar 28, 2007 11:26 PM

great job

26. posted by miguelnd, Mar 29, 2007 3:38 PM


27. posted by -__JoB1__-, Mar 31, 2007 12:50 AM

really good

28. posted by rammm, Apr 5, 2007 11:18 PM


I'm thinking, we could print this guides on transparent sheets, with the size of our camera's screens as a pattern to take pictures already with this proportions

I'll try :P

29. posted by TonyFalcon, Apr 15, 2007 7:35 PM

Thanks a lot, thats exactly what i needed to make my life happier, i luv u feff :).

30. posted by boanerges, Apr 21, 2007 9:53 PM

Hi Pals! Hi ugaldew! Many thanks for your useful tut and complementary stuff. How could one create or display in PS guide lines at an exact position and at an exact angle, like in Corel Draw? Best Regards.

31. posted by tnt2br2, May 9, 2007 7:44 AM

Muito Bom ! Parabéns! thank' s

32. posted by Javi84, May 9, 2007 7:19 PM


33. posted by therealgid, May 22, 2007 11:15 AM

nice one dude

34. posted by chussuarez, May 28, 2007 4:50 PM

Well done!! If you're interested in graphic (an industrial) design, check out this book: GEOMETRY OF DESIGN, by Kimberly Elam (Princeton Architectural Press, 2001). It does a similar research over some 20th Century's famous designs, quite interesting :)

35. posted by waj_watt, Jun 17, 2007 6:38 AM

cool stuff !!

36. posted by dr_jaybone, Jul 16, 2007 3:53 PM

very informative

37. posted by nemokali, Jul 21, 2007 2:46 AM

nice post.. thanks for sharing bro..

38. posted by Jorgesti, Oct 22, 2007 2:42 PM

excelentisimo señor presidente!!!

buenos consejos!!! de puta madre...

39. posted by arhcamt, Oct 23, 2007 7:58 AM

thanks for sharing!

40. posted by Man_i, Nov 28, 2007 1:58 PM

thks a lot for sharing

41. posted by mar_mota, Mar 6, 2008 8:47 PM

This Is Very usefull.

Thank's A lot!!!

42. posted by anchisesbr, Jul 3, 2008 12:14 AM

Very good tutorial !!! Great examples ! This helps a lot understanding how to better have our suject in the center of the scene in a fashionable and harmonic way. thanks a lot :)

43. posted by beyasgolge, Jul 4, 2008 11:11 AM

ok guudd

44. posted by rajap28g, Feb 2, 2009 8:43 PM

I am unable to see the images. Where are the images?

45. posted by John_McCai, Jul 22, 2008 4:51 PM

Amazing! thanks for sharing! :)

46. posted by dsilverman, Apr 5, 2009 4:15 PM

Please, reupload the images. It's impossible to understand without the pictures

47. posted by jsp0104, Jun 19, 2009 9:23 AM

I wanted to use the tutorial to help customers send in holiday photos for our site but unfortunately I couldn't see the images :-(

I am not sure it is this post that is the problem though as I can't see any images in the blogs section for some reason.

48. posted by wallpaper4, Jan 20, 2012 3:28 AM

thanks very much

49. posted by trainer2, May 31, 2013 9:11 AM

very easy to do and looks super cool. thanks!

50. posted by renderiska, Jun 21, 2013 5:59 AM

The best!!

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