Proportions used in Picture Framing for Picture Frames

Below are advice and information on proportions used in picture framing. We have tried to be as accurate as possible however no liability is assumed for any errors herein. It is the responsibility of users to ensure the correctness of all information. For help with orders, see our Help and FAQs or use the Contact page.

Picture Framing Proportions, how big or how wide should the frame be be for the artwork

This is the most common question Customers ask when they either are new to custom picture framing or are unsure as to what size frame they should use. Generally speaking, all art contains, embodies or suggests distinct, disparate colours, compositions, textures and moods.

A large strong, wide, robust, dark frame is usually appropriate when:  The colours are dark and intense. The composition includes solid, square, angular and masculine shapes. The texture is rough, uneven or bold.  The mood is somber  bold, powerful or bellicose.  A small, delicate, narrow, pale frame is often appropriate when:

The colours are light and suggestive. The composition includes ethereal, smooth, rounded and feminine shapes. The texture is smooth, even, light, even playful. The mood is serene, restrained or peaceful. However, most people seem to instinctively know, or at least correctly guess, the appropriate moulding (frame) size.

Looking at the 3 framed pictures below we can see that each is framed with a moulding of a different top moulding width, or simply, width. If we were to ask people which of the 3 frames below they find as most pleasing, most people would not choose the left one, or the right one, but the middle one.

Again, the majority of Customers don’t need formulas for aspect ratios or golden ratios, they just need to trust themselves a little more.  For the minority of Customers who are uncertain or unsure, they should seek the professional opinion of the picture framer who will be framing their artwork.

Professional picture frames will readily proffer their advice when asked as that it is part of every custom picture framing consultation.


Window Mat Size: What size, or how wide, should the window mat be for the artwork

This is the second most common question asked by Customers when getting their artwork framed.  In broad terms,  all art to be matted  hint or evokes a variety or colour tones and tints with each having its own feelings and character.

A window mat with wide widths is usually appropriate when:    The art displays preponderant, dark, solid colours. The composition is prepotent, with strong,  solid and masculine subject.   The texture is bold, busy and eye-catching.

The mood is dark, formal or serious.  A window mat with narrow widths is usually appropriate when:   The artwork’s colours are pale and delicate. The composition includes gentle, youthful, oval or rounded subjects.  The texture is soft and graceful, even mild.

The mood is sedate or tranquil. Once more we find that most Customers have a pretty good idea of how wide should the window mat widths be. With reference to the illustration below, most people will feel that the middle window mat is about the right size whereas both the left and the right one seem to be out of proportion and are ‘felt’ not to be right.

For further help and information on the optimal size and proportions of window mats visit The Window Mat Golden Ratio Explained.


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