Measuring a photo / work on paper
First, determine if you would like a border around your image or not.
If you do not want a border around the image, precisely measure the length and the width.
If you would like a border, take into consideration the artwork and its composition. If it is a sketch on standard 11″ x 14″ paper and there is already plenty of margin, stick with a smaller border, maybe 1”.
If you have a watercolor that is painted to the edge and the piece is larger, maybe 22″ x 30″, then go for a little more border, maybe 2” – if the work is even larger, 30″ x 40″ or so, consider even more border, maybe 2 1/2” – 3”.
The truth of the matter is there is no formula for determining the proper border, it is a matter of taste, preference, and the composition of the artwork itself.
Once you have figured out how much border you would like, I’ll share with you a professional trick.
Multiply your border amount by two and, using a measurement tape, begin your measurement of the artwork with that number. Measure your length this way, then your width. This is automatically account for the border on both sizes and makes trickier, more precise measurements easier.
Next, determine how much clearance you would like over your imagery, the depth of the support backing is about 1”, typically 1” clearance looks nice with a piece that has no border, but feel free to design yours with more, or less (but we need a minimum of 1” to get that support in there!)
Measuring a canvas
Boxes are typically attached directly to the canvas so you’ll want to order the box alone without any backing.
Measure the length of the canvas at its longest point, and the width of the canvas at its widest. You should consider where the canvas folds over so that the box does not become too tight to fit at these points.
Next, determine how much clearance you would like over your canvas, typically 1″ – 2” clearance looks nice with a canvas, but feel free to design yours with more, or less – be sure to add the desired clearance to the depth of your canvas when entering the depth of your box!
Measuring an object
Let’s suppose you would like to mount a baseball within a box. Not only will you need to measure the length and width, you will also need to account for its depth.
In this example, we would like to display this baseball with a 1 1/2″ border all around, and we would like a clearance of 1”.
We begin out measurement at 3” so we may properly account for the border and, using a guide, we measure its height and add our 1”. Not forgetting the 1” needed for the support, the measurements to order a box for this item are L x W x H.