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Old 12-26-2013, 10:01 AM
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SparrowHawk7 SparrowHawk7 is offline
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Re: Tool to help draw a grid?

The trick, Brian, is to take it VERY slowly and carefully. For instance, the upper lid line might be 1/3 the height of the pupil above the place where the lower lid meets the eye 2mm to the left of the top of the pupil ... but the shape/angle of the entire lid would require 2-3 more measurements from different places. It's tedious but by the time I have completed it, I know the face intimately because my pencil has traveled over it hundreds of times - literally - and I know every nook, cranny and pore. It works for me and I know of other artists who do it also but we are not a majority by any means.

Moe .. I had a bad experience with a grid the first time I tried one and never bothered with one again. My mistake was in using a hard pencil to draw the grid lines on my drawing. Logically, I figured the lines needed to be very light so they wouldn't show so I used a 9H or something similar. Well, of course, the graphite was harder than the paper and I ended up embossing the grid over the drawing which made it impossible to absorb the lines into the drawing. The result was something of a disaster but a good learning exercise for myself and anyone else looking. The moral of the story is to use a SOFT grade to draw the grid lines but draw them very lightly. That way they can be absorbed into the drawing easily without leaving a trace.



Back when I did that kitten .. I used Autocad to make grids of 1/4" and 1/2" and printed each out on a piece of clear acetate. I used Autocad because nothing else would print a fine enough line. Then I just put the reference image under the acetate scale I wanted to use and attached it with a paper clip. The problem was doing the ensuing grid on the drawing. I haven't got enough patience to do that for every drawing.
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Old 12-26-2013, 06:38 PM
Moises Menendez Moises Menendez is online now
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Re: Tool to help draw a grid?

Ken,
Thank you again for your lessons. I am still looking for this particular artist from GB, who was painting from real life using strings as guides or plum lines. He was doing oil paintings and I remember seeing a video while using this technique but I can't remember his name. He is a Wetcanvas artist. I am still looking for him.
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Old 12-26-2013, 07:55 PM
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Re: Tool to help draw a grid?

Sorry Moe ... I'm not familiar with him.

They're not lessons ... that would make it seem like I am superior in some way which I am not. Just explanations of my methods ...
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Old 12-26-2013, 10:32 PM
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Re: Tool to help draw a grid?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SparrowHawk7
The trick, Brian, is to take it VERY slowly and carefully. For instance, the upper lid line might be 1/3 the height of the pupil above the place where the lower lid meets the eye 2mm to the left of the top of the pupil ... but the shape/angle of the entire lid would require 2-3 more measurements from different places. It's tedious but by the time I have completed it, I know the face intimately because my pencil has traveled over it hundreds of times - literally - and I know every nook, cranny and pore. It works for me and I know of other artists who do it also but we are not a majority by any means.

I am not quite clear on what you mean here. Do you literally use a ruler to measure?

I know what is meant by "relative measurement," i.e. checking, for example, how much wider the eye is than the pupil, how many eye widths the two eyes are apart etc. It's just that with no amount of practice have I ever been able to master it; I keep on getting the measurements completely wrong. The only way I get anywhere close to a likeness is by conceiving of the picture as a set of interlocking shapes, but as discussed earlier, it can be pretty tricky to correctly "see" a large, irregular and somewhat featureless shape like a forehead.

I have noticed that slowing down sometimes helps. When you look at WIP of highly competent artists, it is easy to get the impression that their initial lay-in of shapes and lines is done quickly, because they make it look so easy. But perhaps it actually takes much longer than it appears.

But I have also noticed that when I greatly slow down, it only works some of the time to improve my drawing, With some other attempts, it has no effect whatever. As I have also noted before, I have had little success in capturing a likeness even using a grid - I somehow still get the shapes and proportions all wrong, or perhaps I make some other and more subtle errors. Either way I end up with a drawing that bears not even a passing resemblance to the subject.
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Old 12-26-2013, 11:19 PM
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Re: Tool to help draw a grid?

I do use a ruler for the initial eye layout .. after that its more using lengths measured against a pencil to determine distances. It's important that I have the reference image on my computer at the same scale so I can zoom and have accurate distances/angles/etc. I don't really know what more I can say.
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Old 12-26-2013, 11:30 PM
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Re: Tool to help draw a grid?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SparrowHawk7
I do use a ruler for the initial eye layout .. after that its more using lengths measured against a pencil to determine distances. It's important that I have the reference image on my computer at the same scale so I can zoom and have accurate distances/angles/etc. I don't really know what more I can say.

Do you mean that you work from your computer screen? I have tried working that way, with the paper on a clipboard, but found it a bit awkward. I seem to have more success if I print out the reference. I think in looking up at the photo on screen and then down again to my drawing, a lot of information gets lost.

But I don't really know. What I find strange about my attempts is not so much that I never have success, but that I am completely inconsistent. I produce a drawing that works out wonderfully, best thing I ever drew, and think that perhaps now I finally "got it." Then in the next drawing I am quite literally back to the level I was when I started twenty years ago. And then the next drawing is a bit better, and the one after that worse than anything I did twenty years ago, and ten drawings later, out of the blue, I produce a great one again.

I cannot work out what it is that makes me achieve success on the rare occasions when I do achieve it, or, for that matter, why I fail so completely when I fail. I cannot work out what it is that I do either wrong or right.
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Old 12-26-2013, 11:32 PM
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Re: Tool to help draw a grid?

Some of the few times I wanted to use a grid, I think I printed out a grid on paper, drew a line drawing directly on the grid, took a picture of it, enlarged or shrank the picture to the size I wanted to paint or draw, printed it out (in sections, if needed), and used transfer or graphite paper to transfer it to the canvas or paper. That way, I didn't have to worry about the grid showing on the final work, and I didn't have to draw out the grid by hand with a ruler or yardstick.

simpler:
1. print out a grid (could just be table from microsoft word)
2.draw a line drawing on the grid.
3. transfer to paper/canvas with transfer or graphite paper.

Last edited by maryinasia : 12-27-2013 at 12:07 AM.
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Old 12-27-2013, 07:31 AM
Moises Menendez Moises Menendez is online now
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Re: Tool to help draw a grid?

I finally found this british artist, who happens to be a retired physician, and he is using the grid method in a very sofisticated way. His name is Vic Harris. He does very realistic portraits, and here is his video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpBl3xGO0Ho
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Old 12-27-2013, 10:57 AM
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Re: Tool to help draw a grid?

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeropoint
I was wondering if anyone makes a tool that makes it easier to draw an exact grid. I haven't seen such a thing, but it might exist. Thank you.

A rolling parallel ruler can be used. Something like this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRaX7MdLJK0

Last edited by mortap : 12-27-2013 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 12-27-2013, 10:00 PM
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Re: Tool to help draw a grid?

I bought a kit with acetate type grid printed on them in varying sizes. I have pictures and just tape the grid I want over the picture. Then the picture is not ruined in case I am to return it to someone or just want to keep the picture in good condition.
I generally work with 8x10 or 11x14 inch sizes for my drawing or scratchboard. I draw a very light grid on my paper with a C-thru ruler, which is kind of like a gridded ruler. I usually don't have to measure, just line up the ruler and the ruler is transparent, so I can easily line up parallel and perpendicular lines.
With scratchboard I draw on paper and then transfer lines to the black board with white transfer paper like Maryinasia discussed.
I do like the grid to get basic lines down and also grids help me get the eye details lined up, because if the eyes are off, forget it...

Also I have used a proportional divider to help measure points, but it was a bit too cumbersome for me, I am more visual and am more comfortable eyeballing things.
I guess we all have our techniques. I actually enjoy plotting the grid and planning the drawing. It's all part of the process.
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Old 12-27-2013, 11:06 PM
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Re: Tool to help draw a grid?

I use triangulation instead of a grid. Triangulation is not restricted to sight size. Both the original image and the target drawing can be different sizes. Also with triangulation you can make as many landmarks as you need. In the end its just dots to connect so there is no grid to erase.

Larry Withers has a measuring dvd that cover sight size, triangulation and comparative measurement if your interested.
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Old 12-28-2013, 02:05 PM
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Re: Tool to help draw a grid?

I've been drawing painting from my computer for twenty years. I have soft ware (PSP or PS) that puts a grid over my image then I draw a like grid on the painting surface and I paint from there. I also had grid sheets of various sizes, 2 inch, and 1 inch etc then had them copied on clear plastic sheets. some times I do as Ken does. Just measure fromfrom image and make points on the drawing and painting surface. But, there is no "Best way" What ever works for you is the best way to go about it.

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Old 12-28-2013, 07:58 PM
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Re: Tool to help draw a grid?

Ben Rathbone has a demo on his website regarding sight sizing and using a string for initial setup: http://480bc.com/sight_size/sightsize.htm

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Old 12-29-2013, 07:03 AM
Moises Menendez Moises Menendez is online now
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Re: Tool to help draw a grid?

Great thread that we have here! I am learning things that i used to take them for granted. I believe that the grid system is great and suitable for some people. It works for me but the problem is to remove the graphite at the canvas. I am going to purchase the rolling ruler that may facilitate the application of the grid and use smaller squares in order to get more accuracy.
I am also getting more knowledge of the sight size method which I saw years back when Daniel Greene mentioned in one of his videos, but did not elaborate it in depth. It is a great tool to get significant accuracy for portraits. So, please, keep on bringing more information at this thread!
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Old 12-29-2013, 10:54 AM
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Re: Tool to help draw a grid?

No one's mentioned my favorite grid tool!

It's a grid ruler from the C-Thru Ruler Company, a thin 2" wide ruler. I've got a 12" one and an 18" one. They're a bit worn now through long use. Whether I'm drawing a grid or just using tick marks, it's easy to line it up on the edge of the paper and mark off what I want carefully with a fine point hard pencil.

Another useful tool is a drawing board I bought a couple of years ago. It's white and has a black one inch grid printed on it. Tape your paper over it and unless the paper's completely opaque, you can see the grid through it. If you rely heavily on gridding, consider using drafting vellum over the gridded drawing board - then half your grid is already drawn for you.

An opaque projector can be used to adjust the grid size to what you want. These can be pretty cheap, you just print out a mechanical grid from any of a number of sources and project it onto your drawing paper, do the sketch taped to the wall (most of them need to be set up on a table) and enlarge or reduce as wanted.

That of course avoids the problem of erasing or working over your grid lines.

Tick Marks as a measure was how I got around erasing grid lines. I chose points of high contrast and sharp angles, measured both vertical and horizontal, placed the first dot to put the image where I wanted it on the paper. Then continued to measure and mark other places of high contrast and sudden angle change. Top of subject's head, corners of mouth, tip of nose, inside and outside corner of eyes and sides of head at the widest are the ones I use for portraits - but the first human portrait I did with Tick Marks, I made hundreds of them and got an accurate portrait with no grid lines to erase. I just didn't make any marks that weren't in shadow areas and made them no darker than the value of the shadow. Connected the dots freehand. With practice I got to be able to freehand shapes between quite distant tick marks - like getting the eyelid shape right but getting the eyes sized and placed accurately.

After enough practice, you don't need the grid on the drawing paper. Just the grid on the photo reference is enough. There was a program that grids photos in your computer, wish I could remember what it was called, it was free and I had it on my old computer.

Your camera on your phone will produce a basic nine-square grid over your photo if you look at the subject through it. Sometimes this is enough for laying out the painting.

There are a number of cool transparent tools for looking at a subject through a grid for plein air, mostly they're nine squares for Rule of Three composition planning. But that's still breaking down the scene into an organized placement that'll let you deal with part of it at a time, especially in the big rough initial sketch it's good for where the blob of trees goes, how high it goes, where the irregular wide shape of the creek is and so on.

Beware photo distortion! Photos are very good for detail but they do distort color and value a lot. Light between different photos will often be at a different angle and needs to be corrected.

Blick has or had a grid window that sets up between you and a live subject or still life or scene so you can use grid method for measuring and planning even when doing a live subject instead of working from a photo. The trick to using that is not moving your head, always coming back to the same position to look through it. If you stand at an easel, mark the floor for where to stand to help keep your place using that.

But the one I still use most is that grid ruler. It's also great for marking up the backs of mat boards when I cut mats. Measuring both directions at the same time seriously helps. Fabric stores and hobby places for quilting have wider ones that are about 1/8" thick heavy clear plastic, those are useful too. If you want a permanent grid to just put on top of your art and check it, or lay over a blown-up printed out photo reference, the bigger square quilters' tool might be good.

Someone with a lot of time on their hands and great precision could make a grid on a frame with nails and black thread. Be sure to pull the threads taut and place the nails exactly for this or you'll have an irregular grid. Mark up the frame carefully and line up the threads on the marks rather than just nailing them on. Wire would possibly be a bit more sturdy than black thread, the general idea would be to lay it over your drawing paper and sketch skipping the lines so as not to disturb the overlay. Same general idea would be to use a marking pen on clear matte acetate and mount that in a frame or mat so it can be laid down over something, but with the wire or thread version you can draw while it's laid over your paper.

Moe, for easier removal from a canvas, a lot of artists use thin charcoal rather than graphite. It washes off easier.

Awesome kitten, Sparrowhawk. Looks great, I like the way you captured that sense of fluffy depth, the accuracy is part of that where the forepaw presses into the face fur.
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Last edited by robertsloan2 : 12-29-2013 at 10:56 AM.
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