Scale before processing

If you want the target image to be a percentage of its original size, then use width=50% or height=50%, or both. The parameter scale is however a different story.

The parameter scale is used to scale the original image as a first step in processing the image. Applying scale=25% will reduce the image before processing. This can produce some nice effects, or none, depending on what happens next.

This is how you use the scale option.

What Parameters The image
Original &w=300
Downsize to 10% &w=300&scale=10
Downsize to 5% &w=300&scale=5

In both cases, the scaling is done as the first step in processing. In all cases the final image will have a width of 300px, so the scale parameter only affects the source image used prior resizing.