(TL;DR: How big should the black boxes be in the grid below?)

I have a grid of cells containing a rectangular shaped image (it's actually the same image repeated). The ratio of the image width/height is not the same as the grid cells, so the spacing is wider horizontally than vertically (see image below). The grid fills the page horizontally then there's some header+footer content above/below.

My question is, are there aesthetic rules governing positioning these images? For example:

  • How much spacing should be around the images? Should I try to use the Rule of Thirds and make the images 2/3 the size of the cell?
  • should I create a wider margin around the edge of the grid, because the padding between two cells is double that around the outer edge?

Thanks in advance!

enter image description here

  • yay tumbleweed badge
    – MachineElf
    Sep 27, 2014 at 19:23
  • Interesting question, sorry it went unnoticed until now. First I've seen it and appears first others have seen it too.
    – Ryan
    Jan 21, 2015 at 3:13
  • @Ryan thx, I hope the GD stackexchange gets big like the coding ones because I have so many questions! :-D
    – MachineElf
    Jan 21, 2015 at 11:37

3 Answers 3


To my eye, the columns between image are so wide that I perceive the images as three columns. If this is your intention, then the spacing is appropriate.

If grouping by column is not your intention, then I would tighten the images a little bit. I also perceive the difference in the top and side margins of the enclosing green square to be too big.

Below I show how I would do it, in absence of any other requirements.

enter image description here

The role of the green background is also important. Is it a mask for a frame? is it a background on a web page which is smaller than the screen? Is it the screen itself?

For example, if there was content around the green background and space was an issue, I would make the margins as small as possible while still retaining visual separation between the black rectangles and the surrounding copy.


I would make the spacing around each image, 33% larger than the image. However, context is important. Scaling up/down, etc etc.

  • Thx, I guess it depends a lot on the grid content + surrounding content, I should have used a better demo image.
    – MachineElf
    Jan 21, 2015 at 11:38

Images sink.

It is customary to alter vertical spacing to allow slightly more space at the bottom of images. Visually images tend to sink a bit when "matted" or surrounded by a field of color.

I'd use

1 x left and right
1 x top
1.5 x bottom

  • Thx Scott, if I set the bottom/top spacing to 1/1.5, the left+right will be >1 due to the shape of the content? I'm assuming that's OK here?
    – MachineElf
    Jan 21, 2015 at 11:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.