Repetition | Using Odd Numbers | More About Composition


As far as principles of design go, I have to say I am a big fan of repetition. Defined as repeating visual elements, exactly or with a slight variation, repetition works for various types of composition: in composing photographs, 2-d /3- form, organizing presentations, and in environmental design.

In the last post, I talked about the rule of three and there is a related component having to do with the use of repetition. That is: when composing, using the principle of repetition, its said that using odd numbers of objects/forms/elements rather than even numbers creates a sense of repetition that creates a more pleasing composition (perhaps creating rhythm).

Three columns in a presentation grid (see previous post), three vases on a shelf, three trees in a garden; these are options for creating successful visual compositions. Someone I worked with would say that here of anything could be an accident but five was an intentional design decision. I don’t know that I see that five is always better than three but I do know that employing an odd number of items has consistently worked for me.

Presentation Composition and the Rule of Three

Rule of 3 Boards

In thinking about sample board and presentation organization, it may be helpful to consider the rule of three. The rule of three is a compositional tool used in photography and the visual arts. This rule can help with the organization design presentations especially where items of differing sizes or scales/points of view are employed.

One absolute compositional rule I follow is the idea of creating a consistent visual border in design presentations as illustrated in the following:

1, Lets say you have a sample board or digital presentation sheet as shown

2.  At the very least create an imaginary border of at least ½” around the sides and top and maybe leave a larger open border space at the bottom (this works best if you are going to have a title or title block there). OR rather than using a bottom open space for the title, just use the same dimension you have on the top and bottom and insert the title inside that imaginary border.

Presentations will be more well-composed looking if you follow this step (2).

3.  Consider using an imaginary grid that divides the board into a 3 column by 3-row grid and use this grid to lay out samples or drawings (this works whether samples are real or digital).

4.  When using the 3 by 3 grid, you can imbed the title into one of the grid sections or include it in a title block along the bottom or side. But in all cases leave that open border of space to serve as a visual border controlling the composition of the board!

More on the rule of three in photography: