Design Element: Scale

February 22, 2010

Magazine cover.

Scale is another device to use that we often don’t think about too much.  Normally it’s in terms of how big a thing you’re creating but what about the scale of the objects in the piece?  Oh, here’s a good one:  what about the scale for each color used?  For example, yesterday we saw that Anne Bagby uses pattern on a large scale.  That is a dominant theme in her work.  Scale creates dominance or lack of it for any design element.  It isn’t just about the outside dimensions of the piece or even the dimensions of objects or “nouns” used in the piece.

Scale Exercise: This takes about 2 minutes so there isn’t any excuse not to do it.

1.  Looking at a magazine cover what pops out at you first? Why?  Is it the largest thing or the loudest color?  Is the first thing you notice what they’re actually selling?

2. What 3 colors are most used and how?

3.  Is there an image used for the background?  Isn’t that the largest thing?

This is an exercise in directing visual traffic using scale or emphasis by utilizing size, color and imagery:  all things an artist does, right?

A fun exercise to study design with is to make ‘inchies’.  These are one inch by one inch pieces so the scale is pretty small.  What’s nice is that you can make some very quickly and learn more about design in a short time.  Inchies make you cut out having any extraneous detail.  You are able to use simple design elements only.   Here is a good place to see some fun inchies:

Remember you can use your inchies in other creations, too.  Have fun in your inchie design discoveries!

Sharkey loves this Smithsonian cover!

Where do your eyes go first?


2 Responses to “Design Element: Scale”

  1. Patricia Perrine said

    I’m loving your design columns. I’ll bet they’d make a nifty booklet! I could also imagine a “creativity game” that would have each exercise on a card — just add glue sticks, scissors, magazines and players!

    • meredith11 said

      Thanks Patricia! I have had it in mind to create a design book and also a book on the business of art eventually. These are some tidbits that I teach in my design class though I don’t get to teach that one very often.

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