Print Positioning for Mounting
Here are a few thoughts about positioning a print on a mat board for mounting and possibly framing. I like a mount where the sides have some weight (not too narrow), the distance from the top is the same as the sides and the distance at the bottom is greater than that at the top (and sides). So rather than mount my prints on a standard size board (whatever that means), I like to determine the board size based on the print size.
Here are the steps:
1. Orient the print as it will be mounted. Determine the mounting board width (left to right distance) by multiplying the print width by 1.618, the so called Golden Ratio. This gives a left & right border of 0.309 x the print width. It doesn't matter whether it s a vertical orientation, a horizontal orientation or a square print - I always determine the width of the board from the width of the print. I like the Golden Ratio because it gives a nice thickness for the sides. Of course, you can choose whatever you like. I's easiest to round any calculations to the nearest eight-inch of sixteenth-inch (or even number of millimeters if you're doing metric)
2. As mentioned above, I make the top border height the same as the side border width, so that's 0.309 x the width of the print. Notice that it has nothing to do with the height of the print, even though it's the top border.
3. Now determine the bottom border height by multiplying the width of the print by 0.368; Again notice that I am not using the print height, because the bottom border height is a multiple of the top border height which is the same as the side border width. This gives a bottom order a little less than 20% thicker than the top border. This comes from a geometric formula for so called optical weighting.
4. Finally I determine the height of the mat board by adding together the top border height, the bottom border height the print height. Finally we get to use the print height!
5. The print is mounted centered left to right using the borders we calculated above, and the top of the print is the same distance down from the top.
Here is an example: I have a print 6.5 x 6.5 inches; The mat board with is 1.618 x 6.5 = 10.517 which I round down to 10.5 inches. That means the side borders and the top border are all 2 inches (which is the same as 0.309 x 6.5). The bottom border is 0.368 x 6.5 (the print width) = 2.39 which I round up to 2.5 inches. The height of the mat board is therefore 6.5 + 2 + 2.5 = 11 inches. I mount the print 2 inches from the top of the board and 2 inches from either side. Done.
Shown below is an example:
Notice how the slightly thicker bottom border nicely grounds the print on the board.
I also show below two alternatives. The first alternative is to make the bottom border 1.618 times the top border and the second alternative is to make the bottom border twice the height of the top border. All other calculations remain the same. In all cases, the prints are positioned the same way relative to the top and sides.
Unfortunately the attachments are not all the same scale - a result of how the website I used for the mock-ups represents the frames. However the proportions are the thing to observe.
Bottom border 1.618 times the top border:
Bottom border 2 times the top border:
Not shown is a bottom border determined by the old classic (meaning no longer available - sadly) Falcon Print Positioner. That tool essentially makes the bottom border height 1.2857 times the top border height.
A great web site with more explanations and a really nice calculator for determining positioning many different ways is found here: http://www.russellcottrell.com/photo/centering.htm
It really is more complicated to explain than it is to do 🙂 Basically from one dimension (the print width), the side and top borders are calculated in one step, and the bottom border in a second step. From those borders and the print size, the overall mat board size is determined. Different bottom border heights are achieved by extending the size of mat board on the bottom. Regardless of bottom border height, the prints are mounted equidistant from the top and sides of the board.
Thanks for posting this. It's all new territory that I will need to reflect on (and no doubt have a few phone conversations with you about). I tremendously admire your skill not only at creating images but also presenting them. As you well know, your last two folios have blown my mind, to say nothing about you ability to write meaningful haiku.
Much appreciate your sharing this sort of stuff.
Thanks, John. Very helpful. While I print a bit, I've yet to (seriously) tackle mounting and framing. This information takes a bit of the mystery away. Inspires me to unbox that matte cutter I bought years ago...
My budget-focused conundrum is purchasing a ready-made frame, from the local Aaron Brothers, with (crappy) glass and then matting and framing within its confines. Or going all-custom. For one-off photos.
They will build a custom sized frame for you, supply the glass, cut a mat, backer, etc. to your specification. all for a very good price. I invested in some supplies and a few tools such as a driver to place the points in the back of the frame, material to seal the frame, etc. and then assemble the components myself into a finished professional package. It's a good alternative to the expensive local shops without having to do everything yourself.