The 55 secret Rules in Design and Advertising: Composition Part 3

3. The Rules of Odds and Space

These two rules are best explained in reference to each other. They state that an artwork is more interesting and appealing to the eye when

  1. a) displaying an odd number of objects – in contrast to picturing an even number of objects, and when
  2. b) there is room for the eye to breathe and add its own context.

The rule of odds is quite interesting; it’s not too well known but it does apply. It may be because when you have an odd number of objects, there is always one in the middle (of the objects, not necessarily of the image), adding a sort of frame, or comfort, to the artwork. We can find this out by taking a look at these ads for Harvey Nichols:

You can also see the rule of odds in the following ad; it doesn’t only apply to the whole image, but also to sections of the artwork:

The second part of this rule, the rule of space, states that when you have, say, a picture of a man who is looking to the upper right, you should place him (as the focal point) to the lower left and leave space where his eyes are pointing at. This, as a result, leaves room for the viewer to put their own imagination to work. This rule, if used properly, is of great importance in photography, where you have a greater need of creating an inspiring environment. In advertising, on the other hand, you don’t always want to leave too much room for imagination – you rather want to control what the viewer is imagining.

These ads for Eurostar make quite a good use of space:

Now, that we came this far, I think it’s time for a coffee break. Bookmark this page and grab a coffee.

Back? Let’s go on with the next rule of composition