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Posted by on Apr 15, 2013 in Bootcamp, Stars and Stamps | 7 comments

Now That’s Odd (Using Odd Numbers in Design)

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Welcome to the April Bootcamp! This month we’re going to explore The Rule Of Odds. It’s a concept that I suspect a lot of you  have already heard about, read about and maybe even use regularly when you create. The Rule of Odds is a principle of that is used in many areas of design including architecture, photography and interior design (where it’s often called the Rule of Threes) and you will see it, for example, used to arrange furniture or groupings of accessories.

One of the first things to decide in a composition is how many elements or items there will be in it and one of the simplest ways to make a composition more dynamic is to have an odd number of elements (one, three or five rather than two, four, or six) in the composition. The basic idea of the rule is that objects that are arranged or grouped in odd numbers are more appealing, memorable, and effective than even-numbered pairings. Having an odd number of things in a composition means your eye and brain can’t pair them up or group them easily. There’s some how always one thing left over, which keeps your eyes moving through the composition. Odd numbers create harmony and force movement and visual interest.

Within a grouping there will often be varying heights, textures, shapes, sizes (we’ll discuss variation in more detail next month) but a CAS (clean and simple) or a more symmetrical design might call for grouping similar elements. Of course, the number of elements is not the only thing to consider in a composition, but it’s essential and quite a good starting point.

Let’s take a look at some sample cards that use the Rule of Odds.

Barb M (odds)

 This card by Barb M. is a good example of a CAS design where the elements are three identical stars and three identical stripes.


julie (odds)

 In this design by Julie there is a variation in the five flowers with the two open blooms and three buds.

samantha (odds)

 Samantha has three simply strands of twine in this CAS card but has added a bit of variation by tying the red bow and using three different colors of twine.

linda (odds) sketch163

Linda used OWH Sketch #163 to create this card with three cute stickers.
Some of the other OWH Sketches that incorporate odd numbers are Sketches #48, 58, 78, 110, 136 & 175


donna (odds)

This card by Donna has five flowers and it’s also a great example of two other design concepts we’ll be looking at in May and June too, Variation & Repetition.


nancy (odds)

Nancy has three flowers embellishing her design and all told she has five elements combined to create this design, 3 flowers, the sentiment panel and the stripe of chevron patterned paper.


carolynn (odds)

Carolynn has five cute little cows in this design and also demonstrates the concepts of variation, making one stand out by making it white and popping it off the base.

Interestingly, close observation will reveal The Rule of Odds/Rule of Threes can be found just about everywhere including nature, science and writing. Scientific studies have well established that we can only hold a small amount (three or four “chunks”) of information in short term, or ‘active,’ memory. Think about it…when someone leaves a phone number on a voice message, you’re more likely to recall the first 3 digits before having to listen to the message again for the remainder of the number.


As we continue to explore additional concepts in future bootcamps you should be starting to see how many of them connect to each other. So this month while you work on a card that uses ‘odd numbers’ in the design take some time to see how you might also apply some of the previous concepts too. Again you won’t likely use all the concepts at once but remember also that you don’t want to concentrate on ‘just’ using odds numbers. At the very least you’ll want to be sure you also have a strong focal point. I look forward to seeing your designs!

Everyone who participates in this Design Bootcamp by linking up a card created for this class will receive a Class Summary in PDF format via email. 




  1. Paula — another informative class. I look forward to the Design Bootcamp. You do a wonderful job explaining The Rule of Odds. Thanks for preparing our Bootcamp lessons. All the sample cards also do a great job showing us how using odd numbers in various designs work.

  2. Very informative. But it’s not odd….it’s a design principal they taught us in interior design. I use it all the time….in many ways. In fact 3 is my lucky number!! Loved all the cards. You do a great job.

  3. Thank you so much, Paula, for sharing the bootcamps with us. Your training and skills are amazing. I just noticed that a large percentige of cards I’ve pinned are yours! Thanks again.

  4. Tommi – I tried to leave a comment on your Flickr, but couldn’t
    I think your ice cream card is absolutely adorable.

  5. Thanks for another wonderful class, Paula. Love your explanation of why having an odd number of elements work better than an even number. The samples are great and your comments very helpful.

  6. It’s so odd – my whole life, I was always attracted to the number 5 and never really understood why until I seriously started making cards(even though I have done other crafts, it came out more in cards). Your explanation, along with others I have read, makes me now feel like I had a purpose for my pull towards that number. Thanks for yet another great and helpful bootcamp.


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