Zinester’s Toolkit: The Proportion Wheel

Zinester’s Toolkit is a column about the tools zinesters use to make their work, and how you can use them too.

Here is a very simple device that you can slip into your papers as you head out to the photocopier. It is invaluable when you’re trying to figure out what percentage you need to reduce or enlarge your original. It’s even quicker than using a calculator. I’ve had mine since the ’80s and it is still in great shape, aside from it getting browner with age.

The proportion wheel is inexpensive and easy to use. It consists of a rotating circular disk over a larger disk. When you have one in your hand, its use is pretty much self-explanatory. You simply line up the size of your original to the size you want and it gives you the percentage you need to enlarge or reduce in the little window. It’s magical!


If you don’t have a proportion wheel, there is another very simple method to figure this percentage out — it’s called mathematics! Specifically, we’re talking elementary multiplication and division. I’ve used this equation consistently in my art practice. If you are going to the photocopy place, just make sure that you have most of these calculations figured out beforehand so as not to tie up the copy machine. I know that black and white photocopies are not expensive and you can just fool around through trial and error to get the size right, but colour copies are expensive and this method eliminates the guesswork and multiple extra copies and expense. I will assume you know how to multiply and divide, but if not, I’ve added a more detailed example of long division here. Happy scaling.

See more from Robert at robertpasternak.net

Robert Pasternak hails from Winnipeg, where he makes wacky original novelty items like Booklets, Fun Gum, Bacon Bookmarks and Sgt.Smokes to house his art. He continues to self-publish many titles of his long running Acid Man Society mini-books and comix, the first of which were published by Clay Geerde’s Comix Wave in the later ’80s.

Visit www.robertpasternak.net to get to galleries of work and the Nakfactorium store of novelties, books & posters, or visit robertpasternak.blogspot.ca for news and links to the NAKUNIVERSE experience.