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Software for helping with composition - January 2018 update

RoxyRoxy -
edited January 2018 in General Discussion
Hi All,

A few years ago I wrote a small program to help with cropping and composing digital photos - its a simple grid overlay that you can use to judge whether lining image elements up with the rule of thirds, or golden sections etc. might help improve the composition. I find its a useful tool, though its only a guide, and often breaking the 'rules' produces better outcomes.

It's possible others here might find it useful too, so I thought I'd make it available. Its called Digital-Photo Crop Overlay (D-CPO) and you can grab it at There are some instructions on the page as well, though it is pretty easy to use.

Sorry apple-heads, its a Windows only program :)  


  • edited July 2017
  • I've just uploaded a new version with a number of bug fixes, and added some additional ratios (root rectangles & other orthogons -, and added a couple of templates for dynamic symmetry.
  • SummerSummer -
    edited July 2017
    @Roxy I love your program.  I wouldn't have mentioned this except that I see you are updating your program when bugs are found.  It is the spelling of Fibonacci.  I wouldn't swear which one is correct but can there be two spellings?  I was taught these theories in my younger days by a Harvard professor and he used "Fibonacci" which also seems to be the version used online.  Hope this helps.  Summer

  • Thanks for the feedback @Summer. Good pick-up with the spelling, its now corrected. Thanks.

  • I've made some major updates to the software. It now has smoother drawing, multi-monitor support, ability to rotate overlays, and ability to add extra overlays.

    This is likely that last update for quite some time, but let me know if you find any problems and I'll try and fix those. Here is the download link with some brief instructions:
  • Thanks, @Roxy. I have it on my machine now.  :)
  • @Roxy Thank you SO much for sharing this so freely! I am sure you spent a lot of time creating it. I was just trying to layout a portrait in which the subject has his head angled to one side and I did a horrible job drawing even though I measured everything out.  This tool will be invaluable!
  • For anyone who may be using this I have made a minor change if you want to update - added the ability to specify a custom aspect ratio. Still available at
  • Thanks, @Roxy. I've downloaded the new version. It's a cool little app. Very generous of you.

    I have a question. Tonight I was dickering around with a landscspe photo I took recently and I superimposed the grids for 'rule of thirds', 'Phi' etc over the photo until I found something I think works (the Golden Spiral). Is there a way of pasting your Golden Spiral over a photo so I can adjust the photo in my image editing software with the Golden Spiral supetimposed?  Also, is there a way of printing the photo with your Golden Spiral superimposed? I'm not very computer savy and apologise if there is an obvious way that I am just too silly to see.

    Thanks  :)

  • @tassieguy, that is a great idea. At the moment the software can't do it because it doesn't know what photo file it is sitting over, but I think I can make your suggestion work (by having a standard, and as option). There are a few programs like my one out there, but none that I am aware of that can embed the grid lines within the photo itself. I'd definitely use that functionality myself - in fact it would be even be useful to have an easy way to add a regular grid to the photo prior to printing out.. I'll have a look at the code and see what I can come up with...
  • Thanks to @tassieguy's suggestion I have now posted a significant update to the D-PCO software. You can now open a photo, explore the composition, do some straightening if needed, and then export the cropped area to a new file (either with or without the guidelines embedded within the photo). This is particularly useful for e.g. embedding a drawing-transfer grid on the photo prior to printing it out. There is also now a view option to mask out the surrounding clutter so the current cropped area can be more readily assessed. I've added some instructions and an example of how this all works to the webpage.

    Thanks again to Rob for the suggestion, and for doing some beta-testing over the last week!

    Any probs just let me know
  • This look neat, is there any chance of you turning this into an iPhone app on the future? 
  • How about light balance and autofocus? Never mind. I'll just use my dividers and color checker.
  • Thanks, @Roxy. It's a great little app. I need all the help I can get with composition.   :)
  • Thanks once again @Roxy for this great tool! Not only can I superimpose over photos but also over photos of any of my prep drawings, sketches, thumbnails, easier to rework and arrive at better compositions even before committing to canvas. Between what I've been learning from Kingston and everyone about composition and applying this tool regularly, like the color checker and proportional divider in oil painting, it works. This is fantastic!
  • Thank You @Roxy!  All my dreams are realized. I send You huge portion of positivly charged energy. Be halthy and happy.

  • I tried to run it but my Avast anti-virus was warning me about opening it so wasn't sure if the exe had been compromised..
  • I had no problem with it, Richard. Norton AV warned me, too, but I figured it would be ok and it was.
  • I'd ignore Norton as well.  This seems to happen to a lot developers of apps that are sole proprietorship.  Give them a call.  I've experienced that things can be ironed out.  
  • RoxyRoxy -
    edited January 2018
    Thanks for the feedback everyone - sorry @edavison, I wouldn't know where to start converting it to an ios app. I'm happy to make the code available if anyone wants to have a go though!

    Over the break I have fixed a couple of bugs (mouse control of resizing and rotating not working properly; some odd behavior with the masking), and added some extra functionality (it now has the ability to stack different patterns on top of one another, and also to replicate up to four copies of the same pattern side-by-side or on top of one another. The latest update can be downloaded at the same place -

    Re the virus checking warnings - understandable I guess when downloading .exe files from the ether - but I can assure you there is nothing nefarious in the code. if you are still concerned that it may have been tampered with, the latest version's zip file SHA-256 checksum (a kind of digital fingerprint) can verified using the calculator at (just drag and drop the zip file onto the webpage). The returned value should be 32489d8c076f1fe0f712ef99adea99bc3bab78b05b6c396d0b7833399f9a6894.

    [edited to update the checksum]
  • @Roxy I don’t even begin to understand any of this technical stuff, but I love the Fibonacci stuff, amazing! I will book mark this thread and see if my son can show me how to use it. Very generous of you :)
  • Can't wait to try this out. Thanks for the Reference to this thread!
  • Well, I missed all the drama over on @tassieguy's thread (thankfully, I must say, after just reading through it), however in amongst it all was a couple of references to a small program I wrote a while ago to assist with composition. A couple of members have found it useful, and given there are a number of new folks here I thought it might be worth bringing this post and the link to the front again - here it is:
    I think its all pretty self-explanatory and there is a bit of a guide on the site, but feel free to drop me a message if you have any questions or concerns.
  • Looks cool but sadly I use Mac and Linux. Nice to see another software engineer on the forum though :)
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    Looks cool but sadly I use Mac and Linux. Nice to see another software engineer on the forum though :)
    We're everywhere.
  • PaulB said:
    Looks cool but sadly I use Mac and Linux. Nice to see another software engineer on the forum though :)
    We're everywhere.
    #define PAULB "/*Engineer*/Painter"

  • @Roxy The checksum is different than what you list on the web page.  Is the software still safe?  I noticed your web page wasn’t secure so I have to ask.   (I too have a software eng background). 
    It’s a cool app and I would like to use it.
  • @GTO, I know next to nothing about software eng but, for what it's worth, I have been using the app for a couple of years and not had a problem - no viruses or malware as far as I can tell. It works a treat.  :)
  • I've been using it a couple years now as well, on vista and win10 no worries. 
    Thanks again @Roxy, I find this to be a gem!
  • Richard_P said:
    PaulB said:
    Looks cool but sadly I use Mac and Linux. Nice to see another software engineer on the forum though :)
    We're everywhere.
    #define PAULB "/*Engineer*/Painter"

    I'm not sure if self-taught Delphi hacker = engineer, but I guess it does have a ring to it.

    Thanks @GTO, I'll check out the file and checksum tonight and post an update
  • @GTO, I checked out the checksum and got the correct value. Though I see I was a bit ambiguous on my page - that check was for the zip file, not the .exe. The .exe SHA-256 is 10fd493ff57cec3446d04e890ed887788836edb6e20652960243c18812be2186. Let me know if you are still having an issue.

    @gar3thjon3s - I've recently been playing around with programming in Linux Mint (and also the Raspberry Pi, which was a lot of fun), and might have a play around to see if I can port it over - might be another interesting learning exercise. But I know nothing about Macs :# .

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