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A List of Aspect Ratios of Common Canvas Sizes

by Vianna Szabo on 4/20/2017 9:42:41 AM

This post is by guest author, Vianna Szabo.  This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community.  If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 48,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites.  This author's views are entirely her own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.



"Wait for It" is on a 16x20 canvas which can be enlarged to 24x30


It is so frustrating when you want to replicate an image onto a larger canvas but the composition is not the same.  To do this correctly you have to consider the aspect ratio of the original reference.  An aspect ratio is simply the proportional relationship of the width to the height of the painting surface.  To make the process easy I have a list of aspect ratios of common canvas sizes taped to the wall of my studio that I refer to, whenever I want to resize an image.

The outside dimension of the painting surface is the most important shape to consider in composition.  It will dictate how the shapes will be placed and the mood of the painting.  If you are painting a portrait where would you place it on a 8x10 canvas verses a 12x12, or 12x16?  How would it look on a 12x24?  Each one offers different possibilities of placement and will tell a different story.  If I am planning to do a large studio painting or commission, I paint a study first.  The study is a smaller, looser version of the final work on a canvas or paper that is the same aspect ratio as the proposed larger painting.  This way I can figure out the composition and replicate it exactly on the larger canvas, using a grid.

"Wait for It" is a 16x20 painting that I did as an experiment in painting water.  I like the composition and feel that this would be a powerful image if it was painted on a larger canvas.  The 16x20 is a 4 to 5 ratio and the painting could be sized up to a 24x30 and still have the boy and the waves in the same placement on the canvas.

In the case of a commissioned portrait I am often given the final size by the client and then use the aspect ratio to figure out what size the study should be.

I also use this list to create thumbnails, which are very small studies done in pencil, to work out small compositions quickly without worry of images being too large or small on the canvas.

Below is the list I keep in my studio.  I hope you find it helpful in resizing your work.  I have included a downloadable PDF so you can keep the list in your studio too.


Aspect Ratios of Common Canvas Sizes:

3 to 4 = 3 x 4 - 6 x 8 - 9 x 12 - 12 x 16 - 18 x 24 - 30 x 40 - 36 x 48
7 to 5 = 5 x 7 - 10 x 14 - 20 x 28
4 to 5 = 8 x 10 - 16 x 20 - 24 x 30
6 to 5 = 10 x 12 - 20 x 24
11 to 14 = 11 x 14 - 22 x 28
1 to 1 = 6 x 6 - 12 x 12
1 to 2 = 6 x 12 - 8 x 16 - 12 x 24
7 to 9 = 7 x 9 - 14 x 18 - 21 x 27 - 28 x 36
2 to 3 = 2 x 3 - 6 x 9 - 12 x 18 - 16 x 24 - 20 x 30 - 24 x 36


To download and print your own list click here: Aspect Ratios of Common Canvas Sizes downloadable pdf



You can view Vianna's original post here.




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Topics: advice for artists | art education | FineArtViews | Guest Posts | Instruction | painting | portraits 

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Wanda Liliedahl
Thank you so very much for this Aspect Ratios for Canvas Size. I also, loved your painting, "Wait for It". The water is just 'luscious' and hues and values makes it so believable you want to touch your screen to feel the water! Certainly stirred my emotions to just jump right in!

Virginia Anderson
Very useful information. All of it! I wonder about it often. Good ideas for checking the canvas format before you paint. VA

Beverly Garland
Wow, this is also helpful when deciding what sizes to make prints of originals!

Sharon Hills
I have been painting for 3 years with no formal training. The biggest problem I have always encounter are aspect rations. Your post, is the first time I have found any information that could help me. I don't really understand them at this point but I know I will find additional information to learn so I can adequately use and understand this concept. Thank you for your posting. Your "Wait For It" painting shows exceptional quality and perspective.

Nancy Hughes
Thanks for sharing this useful information - wish I'd had it a month ago when I was trying to transfer a small drawing onto a larger canvas. Could have saved myself a lot of time!
Are you by any chance related to the artist Zoltan Szabo? I have his book "Landscape Painting In Watercolor" signed by him at one of his lecture/demonstrations a long time ago.

Mary Datum
Thanks so much - this is something I have wondered about and admittedly confused about. Very helpful information.

Sharon Weaver
I was just talking to one of my students about this and she had such a blank look on her face that I realized she didn't understand what I was talking about. The chart will help.

Terry Rafferty
An excellent reference tool, thanks!
Sometimes I just want a quick check when looking at my stash of fresh canvases. Simplest way is to stack two different sizes with two sides lined up. For example, the left and lower edges are together. Then I put a straightedge ruler from the lower left corner to the upper right corner of the larger canvas. If the upper right corner of the smaller canvas falls along the straightedge then I know the aspect ratio is the same; if it falls above or below then the aspect ratio is different.

Jackie Davidson
What great information! Thanks so much for kindly sharing that with us.

Your painting is fabulous - and what an interesting viewpoint! Thank you so much for sharing the aspect ratio table. Many times I've had to figure this out, either by using an online aspect ratio calculator, or by extending a diagonal line through the smaller size to figure out the equivalent larger sizes. It hadn't occured to me to write down the results, so it's always been the "back to the drawing board" each time. I really value that chart you provided!

Jerry Krejcha
I simply use a round proportional scale. You can then enlarge to a standard frame size.

Vianna your painting is really impressive ; it should be even more so at your chosen larger size.
I don't mean to muddy the water here , but you do know there are PROPORTIONAL SCALEs available ... proportional Wheels might be more descriptive. I am sure they must still sell these in art supply stores , or maybe where drafting supplies are sold. ?
They enable you to take width and height of your sketch and by rotating the upper wheel over the lower wheel ... you can get enlargement (or reduction) sizes to your liking... from your original size.
I assume most artists buy canvas or prepared surfaces ... height and width numbers ...EVEN. such as 24x30 , 18x24 etc. rather than 24 x 33. or 25 x 37 etc. However , if you stretch your own canvas or paint on masonite (if you cut it ), you can use any odd or even size that suits your plan. All and any of which can be can be found magically on your Proportional Wheel.
Take your "Wait For It" @ 16x20. : it could be 20x25... 24x30 (as chosen) ...28x35...32x40...35x44. etc. and so on.

Of course , as mentioned, the method of a straight edge or line drawn from lower left corner of your drawing or canvas toward the upper right corner .. and on upward .... and then place your larger canvas to line up with the original lower left corner and keep all SQUARE .... that "on upward " line will exactly hit the upper right corner of your larger canvas ... if it is of the same relation.

Keeping those sizes ...ASPECT RATIOS of common canvas sizes that you usually paint on ... still works quite well.
Hope I didn't confuse everyone.

Vianna Szabo
Thank you everyone for your kind comments and good suggestions. Thanks especially to Terry, Jerry and John for taking it a step further using the diagonal line and straight edge as well as the information on the proportional wheel, that is very handy information. Happy Painting, everyone.

Victoria Bales
Thank you for the Ratios of Canvas sizes! Now I don't have to figure each time.

Beth Page
Thanks Vianna for sharing the ratio information, very generous of you. Saved me a lot of work. Like your work.

Beth Page
Write another comment . . .

Shirley Harris
Canvas Aspect Ratio Chart so very helpful.
Thank you for posting for everyone.
Makes life much easier.

Thanks so much!! So helpful. If I ever get these paintings done in my lifetime, I am definitely making prints.

Nancy Hughes
Hello again Vianna. I made a copy of your Canvas Aspect Ratio Chart, it is such a help, thank you. I hope you don't mind my repeating the question, "are you in any way related to the noted watercolor artist Zolton Szabo"? I learned so much about watercolor from him.

Simonne Roy
Thank you so much for this helpful list!
I too am a "list person" and if you'd like a list of plein air supplies, it is on my blog.
I also love your painting of the boy in the waves. Great composition for a difficult subject.


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