I'm rather new to design and find this really confusing, even after researching it for days.

I begin with a canvas size of 24x36 inches and I want to downsize it to the following print-sizes: 4x6 5x7 8x10 11x14 18x24

Just resizing the standard way (automatically or manually), without any special settings, some of the sizes are noticeable stretched. Even though I don't have anything special like faces or similar in my designs it looks borderline unacceptable. This obviously gives the correct print-sizes and pixels according to the dpi.

Using "Preserve Aspect Ratio" and "Smart-Cropping" it trims the edges which makes the prints noticeable different if some of the graphics are in the corners. This also gives the correct print-sizes and pixels according to the dpi.

The best result is when I just use "Preserve Aspect Ratio" in the software I'm using, but then I get the print sizes: 4x6 4.7x7 6.7x10 9.3x14 16x24

This last option can't be considered acceptable for print?


I was thinking about manually resizing the individual elements for each size and for example, between 24x36 and 18x24, the numbers (percentage in decrease) seem to be

Circumference: 30% Width: 25% Height: 33.3%

In the software I'm using the choice is to downsize either in width or height in percentage while maintaining proportion. Is this a viable option and which value should I aim for?

The goal is to make the prints as similar as possible while following the standard print-sizes.

  • I suggest you create a file in Illustrator with a rectangle that is proportionally 24x36. Now create a rectangle that is proportionally 8x10 and overlay it, enlarging it proportionally until two of the sides meet two of the sides of the 24x36 rectangle. Do this with all of the sizes. Now you'll have a center, overlapping space to design in, and the non-overlapping ends will contain superfluous content you can crop out.
    – Steve
    Commented Mar 10, 2020 at 20:35
  • 2
    If final sizes are not proportional then you will need to crop, stretch, or squish things. There's no "magic" option.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 10, 2020 at 22:53
  • @Scott That is something I've actually understood in these last few days. Starting with 8x10 and downsizing to 5x7 and 4x6 gives a much smoother result, since it's ≈ proportional downsizing. What I don't understand is what the acceptable/appropriate choice is when dealing with non proportional sizes.
    – Jane Smith
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 9:07
  • @Steve I'm having a hard time following, do you have a resource/demo to link?
    – Jane Smith
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 9:10
  • @JaneSmith what is "acceptable" is entirely up to the individual. There's no "rule" or "standard" because each and every piece is different artwork.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 9:39

1 Answer 1


To design once for many different aspect ratios, scale up the smaller sizes to either the same width (#1), height (#2) or near-enough width and height (#3).

Which method you choose really depends on your design.

Each of these methods produce a range of similar sized rectangles, which you can spread out as canvases, over which you can lay out your design.

enter image description here

  • Ah the joys of not working with A series paper
    – joojaa
    Commented Apr 12, 2020 at 13:50

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