Proportion in Art

WHAT IS proportion  IN ART?

We explore how different parts in a visual composition share “proper” size with each other to create a “harmonious” relationship between them and a harmonious visual composition. Sometimes the different parts in a visual composition do not share the “proper” size between one another and it appears out of proportion.

scale versus proportion

Scale refers to the size of objects and their relationship with each other in a composition. Proportion is more a zooming in on the intricacies between the relationship of the sizes of parts in a visual composition.

types of proportion in ART

standard proportion

Standard proportion in art means that accurate or correct proportions are utilized for the subject matter. 

altered proportion

Altered proportion refers to an artwork where the proportion has been changed, distorted, or altered for specific reasons; this is also called “exaggerated” proportion.

hierarchical proportion

Hierarchical proportion focuses on the importance of the subject matter, in other words, the hierarchy of figures in a composition to denote their status or level of importance in a monarchy or social structure.

out of proportion

Out of proportion in art simply refers to the subject matter, be it figures or objects, that are not in proper proportional relation to one another. 

proportion artwork examples

Standard Proportion: David (1501 – 1504) by Michelangelo Altered Proportion: Mother and Child (1921) by Pablo Picasso Hierarchical Proportion: Nebamun fowling in the marshes (c. 1350) Out of Proportion: The Elephants (1948) by Salvador Dalí