Scaling Turtles

Quite a few months back I started working for an educational company, creating art for an application. Such work is very different from just plain illustration, as it requires some weird restrictions and demands. One of these demands is flexibility in image size. The same image has to be used in very large and in very small scale. It doesn’t take long to play with it and understand that hand made illustration, crafty and detailed will not look good when scaled to 10 percents of it’s own size. Roughly, the thumb re-size rule allow us to scale 85%-115% of image size without it looking like we cheated. This is just my humble opinion, based on my personal experience. So one morning I hear a request “make me a turtle which I can place once on the screen, but if needed I can have a hundred of them at the same time”. Hmmm, I thought, and started exploring my options.

The first thing I realized was that details are very important, for the close up version. Also, I need to be able to turn some and eventually most of the details off, for the smaller version of the image. The process is somewhat like icon designing (something I have been avoiding so far), when the version of 16×16 pixels has to remind of the 64×64 version, but simply scaling won’t cut it.

Here all sizes are shown together, you can see that the turtles look “the same” when in fact these are different images.

The original 100% design.


This is the turtle for mid scale down, 40%. It has no fine line, to make it visually lighter when scaled and avoid pixelation, but I left the color details fully, to maintain the visual richness.


Same turtle used for the 10% scale – thicker outline, no fine line, regular color. No need to bother with accurate painting too.