Fundamentals of Art and Design 3(1+2)


The principle of proportion underlies all other principles. The principle of proportion states that relations between parts of the same thing or between different things of the same group should be satisfying. So, proportion can be defined as the comparison of dimensions or distribution of forms and is the relationship in scale between one element and another or between a whole object and one of its parts. Differing proportions within a composition can relate to different kinds of balance or symmetry and can help establish visual weight and depth. The smaller elements seem to recede into the background while the larger elements come to the front.dd

The principle of proportion is sometimes called the "law of relationships." There are three practical problems in proportion which con­front us in everyday tasks. They are- How to achieve arrangements which will hold the interest? How to make the best of given sizes and shapes? How to judge, what sizes may successfully be grouped together?

For example, as depicted in fig 3.4, the appearance of the exterior of a house is to be in proportion first to the total mass, which depends on height in relation to length, then the proportion of roof, wall and foundation, finally the relationship of doors, windows and other elements organized as a whole to be as unified whole. Similarly the furniture and its arrangement to the size of the room and the grouping of various accessories used, needs to be in proportion. Be it, as simple as a flower arrangement, the proportion needs to be observed, like the size, shape and height of flower arrangement in proportion to the vase it holds, the style of arrangement, and the backgrounds. Every minor aspect needs to be thought in order to achieve beauty through proportion.

There are definite means to solve the problems, the designer needs to know the relationships of size, shape, scale, space, color, texture, pattern and grouping of various elements of art and principles of design.
  • So, to achieve arrangements that will hold the interest one must know how to create beautiful space relationships.
  • It is desirable to make the best of given sizes and shapes, one must be able to produce change in appearance, achieving unity as a whole.
  • It is necessary to understand scale, In order to judge what sizes may be grouped together success­fully.

Proportions are established, whether good or bad whenever two or more things are put together. Some people have an instinct for good proportions and the combinations of proportions they make are sure to please the eye. For­tunately proportion is one that can be acquired. The best method is to adopt a standard and then by comparing the results of experiments with that standard, one will soon arrive at the point of having a true "feeling" for fine space relationships.
Greek oblong:
The ancient Greek designers were the first to anchor space relationships after centuries of striving for beauty. They arrived at the point where nearly everything they made exhibited good spacing. They formulated rules based on the proportions of human body and also study of fine relations in space. The oblong which they used as the basis of their space divisions is called "the golden oblong" and is a recognized standard for space relationships. This Greek oblong measured approximately two units on the short side and three on the long. The ratio of about 2:3 or 3:5, 5:8, 8:13 is the relationship used by the Greeks for their flat surfaces. Their standard for solids is a use of ratio of about 5:7:11.
Dividing the space into interesting parts:

When a space has to be divided into or more parts:

  • Dividing the wall space for hanging wall pictures
  • A living room is divided for sitting/ drawing and dining areas
  • A single chair is to be placed in a group of drawing room chairs.

Similar problems occur and the same principle of division of space is required to be applied. The most satisfying result is achieved where the dividing line or the object is placed at a point a little more than one-half and a little less than two-thirds the distance from one end or the other.

Any position within the limits is potentially pleasing and there is no necessity for a stereotyped choice.

As can be seen in figure3.5, the point somewhere near ‘A’ would be the most interesting point within this space to place an important object or to divide the space on a horizontal surface.

Dividing a space into more than two interesting parts: There are a few possibilities by which a space can be divided into more than two parts, by means of lines or objects and such possibilities are as follows:

  1. All the space may differ: The effect produced may be confusing and inharmonious when used in large areas (Fig. 3.6 A).
  2. All the spaces may be alike: The space allocation may be equal for each grouping. This results in monotony because of the repetition of lines, colors or space. However, one can produce or create interest through this method by which is lacking in spacing.
  3. There may be a variation in some of the space and repetition in others: A combination of the above two may be used where there may be a variation in some of the spaces and repetition in others. This makes the design to be more effective.

The interesting division of space may be used in various means of achieving beauty, as follows:

  • In arrangements of objects and space relationships

Ex: Accessories with furniture

  • In arranging group of objects within a larger groups

Ex: Grouping of photos arrangements/ pictures.
Illusion of space:

The another aspect of the principle of proportion is to create illusionary spaces.

  • Space illusions through use of lines to alter proportions
  • Effect of lines in the appearance of room.
Ex: Curtains and Draperies lines
  • Lines of doors and windows in appearance of a room.

Use of lines to alter proportions: The illustration of the two oblongs of same size shown in Fig.3.7 indicates the use of lines to alter their appearances. In one, a horizontal line has been drawn and in the other, a vertical line. Where the eye is carried across the rectangle, it looks shorter and wider and where it is carried up and down, the effect is that of apparently increasing the height and decreasing the width. Horizontal lines thus seem to add width and vertical line height.

A house with rectangular windows will appear to be taller as compared to a house with square shaped windows. This is because the vertical lines of the rectangular windows draw the eye upward and the repetition of square shaped windows with wide arches in the other building carry the eye horizontally.
So use of lines help to alter the proportions. A room that is too low, can be made to appear high by painting the ceiling lighter than the walls and also by using vertical lines/ stripes on the wall paper. Windows that are too short may have a long, narrow draperies and no valance.

The placing of pictures and accessories may be used to emphasize height or width in a room. For example, a vertical hanging will produce an impression of height. The use of more than one rug also appears to decrease the size of the room. To increase the existing width of a room, a valance or a cornice board may be used across a group of windows and rugs may be so placed that their lines will carry the eye across the room.

Knowledge and use of scale, unity and dominance is also essential in understanding proportion which are explained as follows:

Last modified: Monday, 13 February 2012, 7:07 AM