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Old 07-01-2008, 05:47 PM
adamjw adamjw is offline
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How do I set up a grid on my paper?

Hi, I'm working on a portrait of two people from a photo sized image. I want to try using a grid to draw it on larger paper, probably 8.5 by 11. I've always had trouble with proportions though and I find drawing faces kind of tough, so I want to get this right. The problem is, I don't really understand grids. What size do I use on the smaller image and what size do I use on the larger one? Is it always the same no matter what size I want to draw the final image? I might decide to do 11 X 17 landscape. Anyway if anyone can explain this to me that would be great. Thanks =)
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Old 07-01-2008, 07:17 PM
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Merlion Merlion is offline
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Re: How do I set up a grid on my paper?

First do a calculation on how many times you are magnifying the image. Avoid using rulers dividing an inch into 1/4, 1/8, 1/6. Use decimal inch ruler.

Better still, go to a photocopy shop and enlarge there. Nearly all photocopiers have enlarge facilities.
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Old 07-01-2008, 07:26 PM
adamjw adamjw is offline
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Re: How do I set up a grid on my paper?

I've never heard of a decimal inch ruler, where can I get one? Are they common?
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Old 07-01-2008, 08:48 PM
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Re: How do I set up a grid on my paper?

You can instead use a metric ruler with mm divisions.
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Old 07-01-2008, 11:39 PM
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WFMartin WFMartin is offline
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Re: How do I set up a grid on my paper?

Use a divider to step off equal sized divisions in both length and width. A divider is an instrument like a compass (for drawing circles), but with a point in the end of each leg. It takes a bit of trial and error to get the divisions to come out even at the the end of your photo, but once set, leave it at the same setting for doing the other dimension. Once set, and stepped, mark the location of each "step" with a pencil or pen. You need to buy a divider that has a screw adjustment that stays put, after it is set, and not one that simply has a bit of tension on it, as that can be too easlily moved.

One thing is alway for sure, if you happen to be working with a photo that is not proportionate to your canvas dimensions: And, that is your photo will either need to be cropped in one dimension, or added onto in the other. That is an absolute "given". When you work from a photo that is not proportionate to that of the canvas, you must decide at the onset, which dimension is the most important to maintain, as far as the picture is concerned, and set your divider spacing for THAT dimension. The OTHER dimension with either have to be cropped, or added onto.

Preparing the grid for your canvas is always quite straightforward. It simply needs to be laid out to the exact size as your canvas. Use a ruler for marking one inch marks on your tracing paper. I use tracing paper, because it can be coated with charcoal on the backside, and used like transfer paper. Obviously, I use a tracing paper that is the same size as the canvas.

Once I have drawn my grid on my reference photo (usually on a clear mylar, laid over the photo), based upon each of the "stepped" locations of the divider, I then draw the image that is in each square of the reference image onto my tracing paper.

Now, if you are fortunate enough to have a reference photo that is the same proportion to that of your canvas, and is of a size that is equally divisible in inches, you can do your gridding of your reference photo with a simple ruler.
For example, if your canvas is a 16" x 20" and your reference photo is 8" x 10", that is proportional. It is not only proportional--it is exactly 1/2 the size, as well. So you can draw a grid of one-inch increments on your canvas (tracing paper), and a grid of 1/2" increments on your reference photo.

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Last edited by WFMartin : 07-01-2008 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 07-02-2008, 06:18 AM
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Re: How do I set up a grid on my paper?

Digressing a bit. For larger enlargement onto walls and large canvases, I use an OHP and transparency films. Grid enlargement is too tedius.
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Old 07-04-2008, 02:48 AM
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Re: How do I set up a grid on my paper?

It's useful where there is much detail, such as faces, to not only use squares but to divide these again into smaller sections. You do this by making lines from corner to corner, so that you have created four triangles within the square. This will allow you to get even greater accuracy and you will have the centre of the square marked.

Another tip is to number the squares going up and letter the squares going across. Do this on the corresponding squares on your canvas. You can even lightly sketch in these numbers and letters through the middle of your picture. You can then make a grid reference. It's not funny when you've spent time drawing out your picture only to find that you're a square or two out.
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Old 07-11-2008, 02:35 PM
adamjw adamjw is offline
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Re: How do I set up a grid on my paper?

Thanks this is great information and it really helped!!
This information along with Cathy_Sheeters Article on Using Photoshop to Evaluate Preliminary Sketches: http://www.wetcanvas.com/Articles2/2921/521/ really helped me with my drawing. I used The Gimp instead of photoshop but it's the same concept. Anyway here is a picture of my drawing so far. It was really tough, I had to erase and compare, scan in, compare some more, erase some more, scan in, compare.. etc. It's turning out ok. Any comments?


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