5.21.2013

Scaling: Keep Artwork Proportional for Reproduction

If you are creating artwork for reproduction or print, it's important that your original art is proportional to the final print size. As an example let's use an illustration that will accompany a magazine article:
Here the final printed page will be 8" x 10" with the art area measuring 4.5" x 2.5". If you are working traditionally, 4.5" x 2.5" is probably too small to draw or paint with ease. Generally you want to work larger than the print size. One, it's easier. And two, digital and traditional artwork look better somewhat reduced. Work larger but be sure to maintain the proportions of the final print size. If you don't the art director will wonder why she hired you, and the designer will be forced to:
1) crop your art which will change the composition or
2) stretch and compress the art to fit.
your art...


your art cropped...



your art stretched and compressed...

Although this is an exaggerated example, your work may be altered even if the proportions are slightly off. Fortunately there is an easy (math-free) way to determine a larger proportional size: scale up on the diagonal.

Start by taping a piece of paper to your drawing table and use your t-square and triangle to rule out a right angle...




Next, rule out and draw the final print size. Staying with the example from above, I used 4.5" x 2.5"


Draw a diagonal from the bottom left corner and continue it through the upper right corner and beyond as pictured here...


Any square you draw on the diagonal will be in proportion to the final print size. Choose any size that falls on the diagonal to create the original art.

Easy. Right?

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