Although one of my favorite websites, the Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies, classifies it as one of their exhibits, I have not forgotten my proportion wheel. Call me “old school” all you like.
It’s a Pickett No 106C and (along with a corked ruler) it was one of the very first specialized tools I got when I decided I was going to make minicomics seriously, predating even my beloved saddle stapler. I probably bought it in 1989 or 1990, back when the world was full of art supply shops and local office supply stores that stocked a full range of drafting tools. I remember I had my choice of a small plain white wheel or this larger zippy mustard yellow job for a dollar or two more. I’ve never regretted the indulgence.
When it’s not being scanned for the internet against a tasteful background of the flannel shirt that I keep on the back of my desk chair, my proportion wheel spends most of its time in the top drawer of the rolling tool box. I’ve been working with the same few page sizes for so long that I almost always have a standard reduction ready for anything I want to do. But this afternoon I had to collect it off a stack of scrap paper on my drawing table because I’ve actually been using it on and off all day, working on some oddball setups for my current crop of minis.
I’d be at a complete loss when it came to figuring out what size and shape to draw an original and how far to reduce it to get the image size I want if I didn’t have my proportion wheel. What, do you seriously expect me to do math or something? The results would not be pretty. Luckily, my proportion wheel always knows the answers. If it’s obsolete, I have no idea what has replaced it, and I’m not sure I really care. This is a simple tool, cheap to buy and easy to use, and I don’t know how you could make it better. OK, maybe the mustard yellow isn’t the most attractive color the manufacturer could have chosen, but I’m used to it by now.