The Importance of Scale and Contrast in Art


Scale is a ratio that establishes the relative importance of a feature within a larger whole. For example, when drawing a circle, a scale is important to help the artist understand how large or small it should be.

While this review found distinct psychometric limitations reported for scale development, future research should seek to develop initial items through deductive and inductive methods with theoretical support and the opinions of members of the target population (e.g., interview or focus group).


Scale is a term used to describe the relative size of an object or image. Depending on the context, it can mean anything from a musical scale (do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti) to a map scale (one inch on a map equals one mile in real life).

In terms of art, artists use scale to create realistic representations of objects and landscapes that are proportionally accurate to their original sizes. To do this, they often calculate a ratio of size called a scale factor.

This ratio allows designers and architects to create drawings of large objects that can fit on a piece of paper, or shrink them down so they can be handled by machinists. It also helps us to visualize landscape plans before constructing them on the ground. We can also use scale to make comparisons between two geometric figures.


A scale is an important part of how we understand the information we’re given. Each of the four common measurement scales — nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio — provide a different kind of information, based on how data points are categorised.

Nominal data has specific characteristics and defines the identity of a variable. It can be classified into categories but cannot be multiplied, divided, added or subtracted from each other. Examples of nominal data include a person’s height, weight and age.

Interval data points are grouped together in a set and can be added, divided, added and subtracted from each other. The scale of a piano keyboard is an example of an interval scale.

Ratio data has properties of all four of the scales of measurement – it’s nominal and defined by an identity, it has an ordered set with equal intervals and can be broken down to exact value. Height and weight are examples of ratio variables.


Contrast is the element of design that draws attention to a particular part of a visual. This can be done in a number of ways, such as by using complementary colors or contrasting shapes and sizes. Contrast can also be used to create a sense of balance and proportion within an artwork.

One example of scale is when a piece of art accurately depicts the size of an object, such as a statue or landscape. Another way to use scale is by experimenting with compositional proportion. This is where the artist intentionally uses certain proportions to create a specific effect, such as making a figure seem bigger than a nearby building.

The artist’s decision on which scale to use in their work is based on the represented motifs, cultural traditions and message that they want to convey. In addition, the artistic use of scale is also related to the use of other principles such as emphasis, unity and balance.


The use of scale in art is important for creating contrast between various components within a work. For example, a statue may have varying sizes of the different parts of a human body, such as arms, legs, head and torso. This relationship is known as proportion. It is also important for highlighting the importance of an event or message.

The goal of this study was to identify and assess the main limitations reported in the literature on current practices in scale development. Ten limitations were identified, including the lack of a theoretical foundation for the new measure, inadequate psychometric procedures, limited sample size, loss of items during the psychometric process (DeVellis 2003), an overemphasis on certain aspects of the construct, missing data and social desirability bias.

In the area of step 1, most studies employed deductive methods for item generation, which is a good practice when constructing new measures (Clark and Watson 1995; Kapuscinski and Masters 2010). Most authors also used EFA or CFA to verify construct validity, which is an important method in scale construction. However, several studies lost more than 50% of their initial item pool during the psychometric process.

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