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does graphic design require math

Does Graphic Design Require Math? 10 Reasons Why It Does

Here’s to anyone asking “does graphic design require math”.

The answer is yes.

Graphic artists certainly do need math in making measurements.

Moreover, when they scale an image or drawing, they certainly use numbers to do this.

Note that dimensions, patterns, and geometry in graphic design use Math.

If ever you’re one of those asking “does graphic design require math”, let’s find out more of the answer in this article.

Understanding Math in Graphic Design

Graphic designers use scale, plus, understanding percentages along with proportions, geometry, and using degrees.

This includes symmetry and center lines to understand positive and negative spaces. 

In recognizing Inverted patterns and using pattern recognition, one must understand how rotating images work.

Graphic designers can use mathematical perspectives to show different viewpoints.

They should understand scaling to know how images increase or decrease in size.

It’s also no secret that like mathematicians, artists also use geometry.

Geometric shapes occur throughout a design and it’s important that artists understand this field of math.

Graphic Design Courses Requiring Math


Math is an important component in many BA Graphic Design Degree courses.

This includes units in algebra, calculus, plus possibly perspective geometry or business statistics. 


The system is like the US.

Students need three to four math credits to complete a Graphic Design Degree.

This can include business statistics, visualizations, plus perspective geometry.


Students must have a GCSE maths qualification.

GCSE in Information Technology is useful at the secondary school level (high school).

Republic of Ireland

Students need a grade of 06 in math to enter a BA Graphic Design Degree course.

New Zealand

NCEA qualification in math after secondary school/high school is needed to start a Graphics Design degree.

BA Graphic Design courses require three to four credits in math.

This can include algebra and calculus.

In short…

Looking across different countries, an entry qualification in math is essential.

Many BA Graphic Design Courses have math units.

These must be completed and passed to gain a degree. 

Algebra, calculus, and geometry are common subjects.

Additionally, students also need business statistics.

Computer Graphics and Visualizations

Graphic Designers need a good understanding of computer graphics.

Using computer graphics will need math skills.

The three computer programs that graphic designers use are Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Dreamweaver.

Programming uses math skills. 

HTML, CSS, and Javascript are the three major programs that are used.

HTML is the main web program.

CSS is a style sheet program.

Graphic Designers use CSS with HTML.

Javascript is a text-based language.

Graphic designers use computer programs extensively in visualizations.

In engineering, this could include CAD or Computer-Aided Design and CAM or Computer-Aided Manufacturing.


Visualization is a visual means of explanation.

This can explain complex science.

Examples could include a section through a volcano showing the progression of an eruption.

It can also be how vaccines control COVID-19 or a car explosion showing all the parts and their relationship.

Visualizations are used extensively in weather maps, plus they are used in spreadsheets and graphs.

Graphic design specialists use graphic programs to visualize specific topics.

Visualization can include educational and product visualizations.

One needs good general knowledge and an understanding of science and math.

Graphic designers can help produce prototypes of products just like automobile prototypes.

Understanding data visualization and statistical graphics can also be useful for graphic design.

These skills allow designers to effectively communicate data and information through visual means.

Graphic designers may be asked to create charts, graphs, and infographics to represent data in a clear and visually appealing way.

In addition, understanding statistical graphics can help designers to create accurate and effective visualizations to make data understandable.


does graphic design require math

The US still uses the old British Imperial Measurement System but the rest of the world is now more or less metric.

This is where a basic understanding of math is essential for a graphic designer.

One may need to convert one system into the other.

Canada uses the metric system, but given its close commercial ties to the US, it runs both systems more or less.

A client from Europe gives you metric measurements.

If you’re a graphic designer from the US using imperial measurements, you must know how to convert what was given.


Perspective in art started during the Italian Renaissance.

Artists, such as Piero Della Francesca, used perspective.

Perspective is based on math.

It can be a one-point, two-point, three-point, or aerial perspective.

One-point perspective uses one vanishing point.

Think of railroad tracks.

The two-point perspective uses two dimensions.

Think of a block that has its width and length diminish towards the horizon.

Three-point shows height as the third dimension that recedes.

Perspective is a useful tool for a graphic designer to add dimension to an artwork.

The Golden Mean and Color Theory

You can find the Golden Mean everywhere in western architecture, art, and design.

This was originally Greek and based on math.

The basic principle of the Golden Mean is moderation, or striving for a balance between extremes.

Apple Logo is based on the Golden Mean ratio which is 1.61803398875.

It was also used in the work of Leonardo da Vinci and many paintings, such as the landscapes of Claude Lorrain.

A graphic designer must understand this to create a design that has harmony, balance, and proportion.

Color Theory

Science and math are present in color theory.

There is a difference between pigment and optical color.

The basic primary pigment colors are yellow, blue, and red.

On the other hand, the basic primary optical colors are red, green, and blue.

These are based on light frequencies.

A graphic designer working in movies and television needs to understand these differences.

Islamic Art

A graphic designer should keep an open mind to other cultures.

One may become stuck using one tradition and his designs could become stale.

Possibly look outside ‘Western’ traditions for inspiration.

Islamic Art uses patterns where there are no figurative representations.

Using geometry and math is the foundation for this style of art.

Repeated squares and circles are produced to create complex patterns.

You call these arabesques.

Tessellations, which are repeating tile patterns, are also important.

Islamic art can also relate to algorithmic art.

This is art or design generated by computers,

Islamic designs are on tiles, ceramics, wallpaper, and books.

They are a major element of architectural decoration.

All involve an understanding of geometry and math. 

Celtic Design

The pattern is very much a feature of the art of the Celts.

This includes a range of different cultures over a long period.

It is best associated with the art and designs of the Irish and Scottish Celts.

There is a fusion of the early Irish Church and pagan Celtic designs.

Geometry and pattern were very much a feature of this art and design.

The Celtic design includes the distinctive Triskele symbol, which is three triple spirals that show rotational symmetry.

It also uses many images of mythical creatures combined with rhombuses, spirals, crosses, and knots. 


The Maori of New Zealand also uses a geometric pattern.

This is true of all Polynesian cultures.

They reused a lot of geometric patterns in their tattoos.

Each pattern has a specific meaning.

These are derived from the natural world and can be very complex.

Here are a few specific examples:

The relatively simple Taratarekae consists of two parallel lines with simple triangle shapes representing shark’s teeth, 

The Hei tiki, a fertility symbol, has broad outlines.

Full tattoos use strongly curved shapes.

There are very detailed patterns around these shapes.

This culture shows a very good understanding of geometry, using shapes from nature

Patterns In Indian And Japanese Design

Patterns In Indian Art

Indian art is yet another universe of patterns.

Natural and geometric shapes are interwoven.

They also often use positive and negative shapes.

For example, Mughal patterns of India show a wide variety.

They combine Islamic designs with Indian Art such as repeated symmetrical flower motifs.

Patterns In Japanese Design

This is another culture with an understanding of math in graphic design.

Their graphic forms go back centuries.

Many use basic geometric shapes like semi-circles, triangles, and squares.

They also often use lattice patterns.

Japanese design shows purity and simplicity. 

Understanding Math In Your Business

As a business, you have a percentage of potential profits.

How much work has this project taken?

Consider the time used.

How much is the graphic designer making an hour?

What resources have they used?

How much is the cost of all of these?

One should account for all these so he would know how much his rate is or the price of his design will be.

Basic algebra and trigonometry can be useful for graphic design in a number of ways.

For example, algebra can be used to create and manipulate geometric shapes and patterns, which are common elements in graphic design.

Trigonometry can be used to calculate the lengths and angles of lines and curves, which can be helpful when working with perspective and distortion in design.

Final Thoughts

So does graphic design require math?


But do not be frightened.

Using aspects of it could open up alternative possibilities.

Look for help from others.

If you are in a studio, do not be afraid to ask other colleagues.

There could also be solutions online.

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