How to Draw More Accurately

Would you believe this top hat is as wide as it is tall?

See for yourself by moving your cursor over the hat.

Top Hat
Ruler

Surprised? I was, too. But it turns out that we are prone to over-estimating the length of verticals, compared to horizontals. This goes to show just how difficult it is to see proportions accurately. But we can learn to overcome some of these biases through deliberate practice.

Below are 3 exercises to train your accuracy with proportions.

I developed these exercises during my time in Florence, when I was working on copies of drawings in the “Cours de Dessin” by Charles Bargue. I wanted to train my hand to put marks in the right places without me having to consciously consider each decision. Just like a pianist trains his fingers to find the right keys without looking.

My instructors were very helpful, but I wanted more immediate feedback on how well I was doing.
The instant gratification of seeing your results right away is powerful. Give it a try! 🙂

Level 1: Sight-Size Placement

Instructions

  1. Get a reference image.
  2. Enlarge canvas to 200% width.
  3. Create a new layer and indicate placement marks on the reference image: top, bottom, left, right.
  4. On the empty side of the canvas, draw your placement marks: top, bottom, left, right.
  5. Reassess the marks you’ve drawn. Move them, refine them, until they look perfect.
  6. When you’re ready to check, drag your placement lines on top of the reference image.
  7. Enable “Lock Transparency” on the placement line layer and color-code your lines. 

Level 2: Comparative Measurement Placement

Instructions

  1. Get a reference image.
  2. Enlarge canvas to 200% width.
  3. Create a new layer and indicate placement marks next to the reference: top, bottom, left, right. Make your drawing smaller or bigger than the reference but maintain the proportional relationship between height and width.
  4. Reassess the marks you’ve drawn. Move them, refine them, until they look perfect.
  5. When you’re ready to check, drag your placement lines on top of the reference image and scale them to match the height or width.
  6. Enable “Lock Transparency” on the placement line layer and color-code your lines.

Level 3: Sight-Size Block-In

Instructions

  1. Get a reference image.
  2. Enlarge canvas to 200% width.
  3. Create a new layer and indicate your placement marks next to the reference: top, bottom, left, right.
  4. Reassess the lines you’ve drawn. Move them, refine them, until they look perfect.
  5. Erase the placement lines until they are at about 10% visibility. They are useful guides, but we don’t want them to distract us.
  6. Continue with the block-in stage. Establish the biggest shapes within the image.
  7. When you are happy with the level of complexity of your block-in, take a moment to refine it. Find all mistakes and make it as strong as you can.
  8. When you’re ready to check, drag your block-in lines on top of the reference image.
  9. Enable “Lock Transparency” on the block-in layer and color-code your lines.

3 thoughts on “How to Draw More Accurately”

  1. Huayra Nadalino Rioja
     ·  Reply

    Ha sido estupendo!!!!!!!! Me ejercitaré haciendolo, llegué aquí por Proko, me has brindado una herramienta fenomenal, muchas graciias!!! Eres un genio. Saludos

  2. Kate
     ·  Reply

    Great idea – I will start this now! Question. I have, in the past tried something a little similar with a painting I’m working on when I can not figure out where I’m off. I’ll take a photo of the painting and add that to a layer, overlay it over the photo reference to see where I’m off. The problem is that after I make adjustments to the painting I take another photo and it seems off in a totally different way. Is this something to do with a distortion that happens when taking a cell phone photo? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*


Courses

Articles