Monday, July 9, 2012

HOW-TO PROJECT: Using the GRID as a Drawing Tool

The grid can be a useful tool for transferring and enlarging one of your drawings or sketches . . .

For this tutorial, I'm starting with one of my small contour drawings of a face.  The original drawing is 5" x 5", and I want to enlarge it to 10" x 10". . . 

I draw a grid directly onto the paper, in pencil -- horizontal and vertical lines, 1" apart -- resulting in 5 squares across and 5 squares down. . . 

If you don't want to draw directly onto your drawing, you can put tracing paper over your drawing and draw the grid on that.

Now, I divide some of the squares even further, with some diagonal lines (where the features are). . . 

I add a few more horizontal and vertical lines, in the eye and mouth areas . . . 

Now, it's time to draw the grid on the 10" x 10" square.  I start by drawing the horizontal and vertical lines.  Since I want 5 squares across and 5 squares down, I draw the lines 2" apart. . . 

I further divide some of the squares with diagonal lines (making sure that I'm dividing the exact same squares as the small drawing, in exactly the same way.)

Now, I finish the grid with a few more horizontal and vertical lines, so this grid exactly matches the small grid . . . 

It's now time to start drawing the face.  I start in the middle, drawing the contour lines in pencil . . . 

Then, I just move from square to square, drawing the lines within each section.  If it's helpful, you can cover up the sections that you're not drawing, so you don't get distracted.

When I've finished my drawing, I draw over the pencil lines with a black felt pen (don't draw the grid lines in ink!)

I finish by erasing the pencil grid lines . . . 

You can also use the grid when drawing from a photograph.  Just draw your grid on a piece of tracing paper, or make a copy of the photo and draw your grid on that.  Sometimes it's helpful to draw the grid lines in red, so you don't get confused.


  1. What CAD program would you recommend to someone looking to do simple meahanical drawings?

    1. The only CAD program that I am at all familiar with is AutoCad. I know it still exists, but I don't know whether it's the best program out there for your needs. What sort of mechanical drawings are you looking to do?

  2. Thank you for such a wonderful tutorial! This is incredibly helpful.

    1. So glad you found it helpful, Mary Ann! It's not the only way to draw, of course, but it sure comes in handy sometimes - especially with faces, or when enlarging something.

  3. i used to draw all my portraits like this... but 1 shud practice without grids too... or ull get used to it... gud 4 starters... :)

    1. I agree that you should practice without a grid, too -- with all your drawings, not just portraits. This is just a tool -- to help you enlarge an existing drawing for painting. But, even when using a grid, it helps us draw better, I think -- by helping us see shapes, proportions, and angles. And, eventually, you won't need to use it.
      Thanks for your comment, Anuj!

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