Art and Architecture, Media and Communications, Technology
Material Type:
Middle School, High School
Creative Commons Attribution

Education Standards

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds


This lesson, activity, and provided template will guide students to interact with the Rule of Thirds in existing images and encourge them to consider this design concept when capturing images.

Reframing Images


The intent of this next activity is to show how positioning the character on the screen is more natural or unnatural.

Every image is divided into thirds vertically and horizontally. Making nine equals spaces and four intersections for us to work with.

Ask students if they have see this design concept previously.

Students most likely have seen it when cropping an image on their phone. Most phones automatically display these lines digitally on images when making adjustments, but they do not remain on the image after being cropped.

Find images (or a single image framed differently) that reflect the following:

The subject is on a vertical line.
The horizon is on one of the horizontal lines.
The eye is on one of the intersections and is facing the side with the most space. The image is balanced.
Vectors point to the subject.

A subject dead center is uncomfortable.

This is not to say that dead center is wrong, there is just something unnatural about it, which could be exactly what you are looking for. It looks like a mug shot.


Give students an opportunity to reframe images to show meaning in framing.

This could be done digitally on thier phones by taking photos or saving images from online and then cropping them or you could have a more tactile activity by passing out magazines and stencils (figure 4).

Have students create their own images within the images they find in the magazines by placing the stencil over the images. If the magazines can be destroyed then have them tear out a page they like and stencil the 16x9 frame around the image and begin to find the vectors, pattern, rule of thirds, etc.

Walk around and look at what the students are coming up with. The stencil (16x9) has three sizes, make sure they use all three (zoom).