How to Scale Things Down for a Drawing

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Simple calculations help scale a drawing.
Simple calculations help scale a drawing. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Any type of art, including drawing, is often an expression of what artists observe in the world around them. Although it can be creatively freeing to draw what you feel, and not worry about exactly how it looks, it can also be useful to know how to scale drawings down. Scaling drawing down can help to better fit a picture, or may be beneficial if your drawings are for a less creative pursuit, such as a design for a project. Scaling down a drawing require a little math and a little adjustment to the picture, but is generally not overly difficult to accomplish.

Measure the objects that you want to draw. For example, if you want to depict an interior design of a wall of a house, measure the wall first. Measure the length of the wall and the height from floor to ceiling.

Write down your notations. Convert the measurements to inches so you can draw your rendition on a piece of standard paper, sized 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches. For example, if your wall is 10 feet wide and 7 feet tall, multiply the 10 feet by 12 inches per foot to get 120 inches; 7 times 12 equals 84 inches.

Scale the items by use of ratios. Set up your fraction as the length of the paper divided by the measured length. The length of the paper is 11 inches. Keep a 1/2-inch margin on both side; 11 inches minus 1/2 inch minus 1/2 inch = 10 inches.

Divide the 10 by the measured length of the wall, 120, which looks like this as a fraction: 10/120. Reduce the fraction by dividing the top and bottom by 10, which then equals 1/12 or one inch of drawing per 12 inches of actual measurement. Since there are 12 inches in a foot, then you could say that one inch of paper equals one foot.

Set up a ration for the height of the wall, too. Since you have determined that you are going to use one inch per foot for the width, you have to remain consistent for the height. At one inch per foot, or 1/12 inches, seven feet would equal seven inches.

Scale everything you are going to draw on the wall accordingly. If there is to be an entertainment center on the wall, for example, that is 5 feet tall by 4 feet wide, use the consistent calculation of one inch of drawing per 12 inches of actual measurement. Convert the feet to inches first for an exact calculation – 5 feet is 60 inches, and then divide by 12 to find how many inches of paper you are going to use – in this case 12 divides into 60, five times. Repeat with the four foot width: 12 times 4 = 48. 48/12 = 4. Draw the item 4 inches wide.

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