Harris Kalinka

Imagery + Animation Golf + Architecture

Monday 11th May 2015

Size isn’t everything

This post follows on from past posts about image size and what to think about when printing an image or displaying it digitally.

However, we shouldn’t only concern ourselves with the number of pixels, resolution and output size of an image. We should also consider the aspect ratio which will affect the aesthetic of the image itself. The aspect ratio is the relationship between the width and height of an image.

The aspect ratio is typically shown as two numbers separated by a colon, for example 4:3 or 16:9, which are both common ratios for cinematography. If you are familiar with Instagram you will have noticed the photos are square, which is an aspect ratio of 1:1.

If we take 16:9 as an example, this means the image is 16 units wide by a height of 9 units. The unit could be pixels, mm, inches or any other unit of measurement. This doesn’t mean the image has to be 16cm x 9cm, it could be twice the size at 32cm x 18cm, as long as the width and height retain the same proportion to each other.

The aspect ratio is more than just a number, it helps determine the aesthetic of an image and the relationship with the content that is being shown. The same building can look dramatically different depending on the chosen aspect ratio. If you are showing a city skyline you might decide to have a very wide ratio, like a panorama, or if you are showing a particularly tall building it might be best to use a portrait ratio where the height exceeds the width. This is something your visualisation company will be able to advise you on, suggesting the most aesthetically pleasing aspect ratio for your project.

To help show how aspect ratio can affect the appearance and feeling of a visualisation, I have taken the same view of our ‘Fulham Lodge‘ project and adjusted the aspect ratio.


Aspect ration of 16:9

16:9 – A wider aspect ratio and the international standard for HD.

Aspect ration of 1:1

1:1 – A perfectly square aspect ratio most recently made famous by Instagram.

Aspect ration of 2:3

2:3 – A portrait aspect ratio.

Aspect ration of 4:3

4:3 – The aspect ratio used by most point and shoot digital cameras.