2 Mathematical Rules for Visually Pleasing Framed Photos and Artwork

Most creatives will experiment on occasion with different sizing options for their finished framed work. Sometimes, that’s not an option though, and you want to order a frame and a mount that’s as close to guaranteed to look gorgeous that you’ll get.

Instead of a hit and miss project, there are specific numerical formulas or equations you can use to create gorgeously framed artworks that are always going to be eye-pleasing, regardless the setting because it follows a set of rules that’s worked for centuries.

The Golden Aspect Ratio is a mathematical formula you can apply to the mount sizing to get the ideal width to give your art the finish it needs to keep it well-balanced.

The Aspect Ratio is a play on numbers that works by dividing the height and width of a digital photograph, which can then be used to change the image size while keeping the image in perfect condition with zero image stretching or image distortion.

Applying the Aspect Ratio and Golden Ratio to Your Framing Projects

  • The Aspect Ratio

To work out the aspect ratio of any picture, divide the height of an image by its width. An example is a 4 x 4 Instagram style picture would be an equal aspect of 1:1. In shape terms, that’s a square. It is the same if you apply it to an image size of 20 x 20 inches. You’d be working with an aspect ratio of 1:1.

Another example is an 8 x 10” photo: Divide the 10” (height) by the 8” (width), and you’d have an aspect ratio of 1:1:25.

With the aspect ratio calculated for whatever digital image you need to be resized, you can then upsize or downsize the image using the aspect ratio.

With most photo editing software, these aspect ratios are already integrated, which is why when you alter either the width or the height, the other number will automatically update. Digital photography editing software will calculate the aspect ratio and then apply that automatically, so your image will scale either up or down without stretching the image creating distorted areas within it.

The most likely time you’ll need to play around with the sizing and perhaps make image adjustments to keep everything in proportion is if you’re removing aspects of the image by either trimming or cropping parts out of the image. Whatever the final printed image size, you can work with the numbers to find the right ratio to change the image size without affecting the picture quality.

  • The Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio is a more disciplined approach to determine the best size of mount margins/borders to use in your frame. It’s based on the Phi formula that’s been used for centuries by many famous artists and painters.

The number sequence of Phi is 1.61803399…. In mathematics, it’s called an irrational number because it can’t be broken down into a fraction. It can be and is best rounded though to be 1.6.

In the simplest of terms, to get the best picture mount margins, it should be around 1.6 times the overall size of the image coverage size inside the frame.

In practice, an image size of 11” x 8.5”, you’d multiply the 11 x 1.618 = 18 (rounded). Taking the original 11 inches away, you’d have a combined (height and width) border coverage of 7 inches. Divide that by the two sides for height and width, to leave you with 3.5” margins using the picture mount.

To keep the Golden Ratio intact once the frame is included in the overall size, take the width of the frame profile and deduct that size from the border margins. For example, an overall width of 14.5” image with the frames width of 1.5”, you’d reduce the mount margins by the frame width to just be 2” instead of 3.5”.

The results of applying the Golden Ratio and the Aspect Ratio is a well-positioned image inside the frame that isn’t overpowering but instead a well-balanced framed piece, creating great visual appeal on whatever you put inside the frame.