marcia blanco

Creating and Applying the Golden Spiral in Digital Media

Project Published 8/15/18 Last updated on 5/10/19

This is an assignment that I haven't done for a couple of years, so you may need to adapt the instructions on making a custom shape in PS to the latest version of CC.

This is a fun project. Yo teach my students about the Golden Proportion, I first show them the first 15 minutes of the incredibly outdated but still fun cartoon: "Donald Duck in Mathemagic Land." Here's the link:

We talk about the golden proportion and where it can be found, I show them the above video. I then have them create their own golden spiral in Adobe Illustrator (which nobody ever gets perfect, but encourage them to do their best.)

Then they copy it and paste it into Photoshop, make 8 versions of a custom shape with it (one version for each possible variation, all of them constrained) and have them apply it to various famous works of art. (Great Wave of Kanagawa is a good one. So is Van Gogh's Starry Night) Then I have them find other images to apply them to and some of their own work. We then have a discussion about what they've discovered. It's great for photography especially, since so much emphasis for beginners is the rule of thirds.

  • Photoshop

    Editing and compositing for photos, web and mobile app designs, 3D artwork, videos, and more.

  • Illustrator

    Create beautiful vector art and illustrations.

Age Levels
Content Standards
Visual Communication using Adobe Photoshop
ISTE Standards
Students: Empowered Learner, Students: Innovative Designer, Students: Computational Trainer, Students: Knowledge Constructor

I just read a post where an educator was asking whether we teach the golden proportion or Fibonacci Sequence. It reminded me of a project that I do with my students almost every year (though I've missed doing it the last couple of years.)

I have a project that is pretty fun. First, I show students the first 15 minutes of the super dated Disney cartoon: "Donald in Mathemagic Land." (If someone else hasn't posted this, here's the link: Then I have them construct a golden spiral in Illustrator. (You'll never get it perfect. Just do the best you can). I have them pull the spiral into Photoshop and make a constrained custom shape with it. Then I have them find famous works of art online, drop them into PS and see if they fit the golden mean. I then have them take their own photos or other art that they have made and apply the same test. If anyone is interested. The instructions that I have provided below work for Adobe CC but they haven't been updated in a couple of years. Try it yourself first and make sure it works.

CC License
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Alper Ciftci

Posted on 9/8/19 7:36:11 AM Permalink

Thanks ​

Aurora Romero

Posted on 9/14/18 9:42:25 PM Permalink

Thank you!​