A sense of proportion, a design principle

DSC09587This is the first of several blog entries on the study of proportion and scale in the creation of hand lettered manuscript books. We shape our own world in relation to the things around us, the natural landscape and man made structures, and follow our own innate sense of proportion to every aspect of our daily lives.

Proportion is a part considered in relation to the whole and deals with size relationships within a composition. Scale refers to size comparisons with some constant such as the human body or the surroundings. The meanings of proportion and scale often overlap and are inseparable terms.

Why is proportion important in the creation of a handmade book? The scale of our human form determines a great deal about the proportions of the things we use. The size and proportion of a book are important considerations when designing a book because we want the reader to be able to handle and read our work comfortably. To create interesting and readable page layouts within the book we concern ourselves with the relationship of text area to the size of the page and the amount of illustration to the text and to the page size.

Does this sound ominous? For me this is the aspect of book design that I thoroughly enjoy. After ruminating about the content of the book one of the first decisions I consider is the size, the height and the width of the book. Here is a simple way of scaling a desired shape.

DSC09588DSC09589Choose a rectangular shape you like. Draw a line between opposite corners of the rectangle. You may choose a point at any point along this line and extend a line down to the bottom of the rectangle and to the opposite side to create a smaller shape with the same proportion as the larger rectangle. This is a useful and simple skill to create your book proportion.

Next time: useful proportion ideals and formulas

Thanks for reading this blog.

Nancy  my website

Priscilla Juvelis, bookdealer

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One Response to A sense of proportion, a design principle

  1. velma says:

    as my partner and i embark (today!) on building a house and garage, design, proportion, space are prominent in my thoughts. working intimately, book or even table size is more familiar to me than larger size, but it does follow that you must be comfortable and feel right in the space created, whether living in it or viewing it. thanks for the reminder. lovely to meet you in portland, nancy. i had a grand time seeing snow palace, wish i could have spent enough time with it to read it.

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