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Scenic Design: Scale and Reading an Architect's Scale

Notes for Tech Theatre Class: Scale and using an Architect's Scale.

Derek Green

on 23 August 2013

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Transcript of Scenic Design: Scale and Reading an Architect's Scale

Scale Drawing and
Using an Architect's Scale
Scale: an exact ratio of dimensions in a drawing
In other words, the dimensions of the DRAWING are in exact proportion to the dimensions of the REAL THING.
For example, think of a map:
An inch
on a map
could represent...
... 500 MILES in real life!
So how does scale work?
It's all about proportions!
Let me give you a real-world example...
Here's the box model I made of the O'Brien Center:
I measured the height of the real proscenium arch in the theatre. It is 14 feet tall.
But I didn't know how wide the arch was at the top.
So, I found a picture of the proscenium arch online....
I used a ruler to measure the height of the arch in the picture...
1 3/4"
And measured the thickness of the arch (the dimension I'm looking for)...
Then I took the real-life measurements
and the measurements from the photo
and created a proportion...
1 3/4"
Real Proscenium
Photo Proscenium

Then solve for X
x =
(.5) (14)
But if a scenic designer needed to do that kind of math every time he or she drew a line on the ground plan, the set would NEVER get designed in time!
But thankfully, there is an EASIER way!
Introducing the Architect Scale Ruler!
16: regular US ruler
Other sides have different scales
11 different scales in one!
The numbers at the edge indicate the scale.
For example, 1/8" = 1'-0"scale means that every 1/8" you draw equals 1 foot in the scale. (Remember the map example? This would be like 1/8" on the map equals 1 mile in real life)
0 1' 2' 3' 4' 5'
Careful! Each scale edge has two different scales on top of each other!
This means for some scales you need to read right-to-left, rather than left-to-right.
1/4" = 1'-0" Scale
4' 3' 2' 1' 0'
2'-6" 1'-6" 6"
These numbers are from the scale at the other end of the ruler.
What are these marks?
3/8" = 1'-0"
1" 3" 6" 10"
Let's practice!
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