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Foolproof Proportions Tutorial by TubaQueen Foolproof Proportions Tutorial by TubaQueen
I finally got a new computer so I could throw this together:)

The beginnings of this piece:


This is an explanation of how I begin working on a piece, all the technical parts of drawing that I don't especially love, but I think this method makes it easy for anyone. I've even taught it to 5th grade students with impressive results!

I know not everyone likes gridding, I just wanted to show my method, and I hope it helps at least one person ;)

If you have any questions or suggestions for other tutorials I'd be glad to hear them! I'll try to put together a shading tutorial next, I'd like some ideas of what to cover.

I'm also open to mentoring any artists who would like me to work with them on a longer term basis, maybe help you through some pieces.
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:iconplunger02:
plunger02 Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2011
I've only used the grid method once but i absolutely love it!! I had a landscape assignment for my painting class and my teacher taught us how to use the grid lines, it really does help reduce stress levels and makes creating art more enjoyable and relaxing :) But can I ask you a question? I'm always confused on how wide to make my grid lines on my paper, like mathematically wise to where it matches my reference photo. I think for my landscape assignment we did use the same measurements you used for this tutorial. Do you use the same measurements for every photo or does the size of the reference photo and the size of your paper determine the size of the grid line?
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:icontubaqueen:
TubaQueen Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
I'm glad it works for you!

Do you mean the size of the squares? You just have to make sure that your scale them in a way that will give you the same number of squares on the reference that is on the paper. If your reference is the same size as the piece, you can use the same size square, for example--one inch squares on the paper and on the reference, or if you need a more or less detailed grid you could do 1/2inch or 2 inch on both. The size of the grid lines isn't important as long as they match up, I find one inch to be a good size for more things.

Now if you're scaling up a piece you have to make sure there are still the same number of squares, but the ones on the paper will be bigger--say double or triple the size of the grid on the reference, so if you made one inch gridlines on the reference, you would make 2 inch squares on the paper to double the piece or three inch ones to triple the size.

I hope I understood your question and that might clarify the math a bit.
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:iconplunger02:
plunger02 Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2011
that actually does thank you! my art teacher didn't really give me a...straight answer so i've held off on making grid lines because, quite frankly i didn't know what to do lol ^^; All i know is that we pulled out the calculators to help determine the size of the squares and me and calculators/anything math related don't mix.
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:icontubaqueen:
TubaQueen Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
I'm right with you there, but this is super low tech math, I don't think you'd need a calculator unless you have abnormal sized reference images, such as 5.5 x 8.5 or something like that. in that case I usually just crop the reference or add a half inch of something because I am too lazy to try to figure that out ^_^;;
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:iconvaleka:
valeka Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for sharing!
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:icontubaqueen:
TubaQueen Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
Sure thing! :D
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:iconjustinsdrawings:
justinsdrawings Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2011
Cool. Gridding has always been a mystery to me, seems harder to do than the actual drawing.

How do you keep all the lines even and straight? I always got wobbly boxes because the line above wasn't exactly level with one below.
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:icontubaqueen:
TubaQueen Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
Really? Well it obviously hasn't affected you at all, whatever you do, you just keep on doing it ;)

The ruler I have makes it a hell of a lot easier to line up all the lines than a conventional one, but it's all a matter of making sure the ruler is parallel to all the other lines you have, it takes a little patience to make sure the ruler is lined up, but once you get the hang of it, it's easy. I kind of do it on autopilot now, to me it's a relaxing ritual of sorts that gets me ready to focus on the piece. I'm sure that sounds weird, ha ha, but I get that way about a lot of things--like heading and formating an essay is cathartic for me before I start writing the paper itself--I can't just jump right in or I feel lost.

Everyone's brain works differently, so I'd say whatever works for you, do it!
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:iconjustinsdrawings:
justinsdrawings Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2011
Haha, thanks. My process is a bit more ridiculous.

I try to get the proportions on the first sketch and then I scan it into the computer dozens of times at different stages to check and adjust it against the original reference.
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:iconblessyo4:
blessyo4 Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
this is awesome!! I've been using grids ever since I became interested in pencil realism drawings!! :D
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:icontubaqueen:
TubaQueen Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
That's great! I hope this wasn't completely redundant to you, and that maybe you picked up a tip or two :)
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:iconmattdeakinfineart:
MattDeakinFineArt Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
Nice little tutorial.

It's a real shame that many people have such a low opinion of gridding. As far as I'm concerned it's just one of many tools available to me and damn right I'm going to use it. Artists use many different tools and good on 'em for doing so. In fact artists through the centuries have used many different ways to help them when producing a piece of artwork and many of them used gridding.

The fact is that I use gridding to help my drawings be as accurate as possible. I can draw perfectly competently from just sight but the type of art that I do commands as near to perfect proportions as is humanely possible. If I drew a face from sight alone it would look good but the chances are that an eye, the nose or lips may just be out of position by a little which in turn can make a portrait look damn awful.

An artist only really uses the grid for outlines and to get details in exactly the right place. Other than that the artist is the one who has to painstakingly render every other aspect of the artwork over many, many hours. It's not like using a grid automatically produces a good drawing because it doesn't. It's the artist that does that bit.....oh and a good reference photo helps too.

So yeah, to all those 'grid' haters, think about the bigger picture.......literally.

Nice one TubaQueen, great stuff and keep up the good work. Always love looking at what you've produced next, whether it be a wonderful drawing or a sublime cake.
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:icontubaqueen:
TubaQueen Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
It so good to hear someone of your talent agree with me on this! I could not have said it better myself. There's nothing more stressful and aggravating to me than drawing out a piece, rendering the parts correctly but mere centimeters out of place.

Thanks much!
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:iconfroggfire:
FroggFire Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks! This was helpful :)
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:icontubaqueen:
TubaQueen Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
I'm glad you think so ! :heart:
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:iconagnespterry:
AgnesPterry Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2011
Gridding is very useful when working from a photo and one wants to be realistic, I agree, and many famous artists used something similar. Albrecht Durer, for instance, as I recall, with a wire-gridded frame. This was a nice breakdown of the gridding method. I think most artists tend to view it as a "crutch" is because in art school, professors don't like students to draw from photos and outright tell you NOT to do so-- so far in my classes it has been either still life, buildings/landscape, portrait and figure drawing.

In those cases really the only thing that sort of works for that is a viewfinder, but I find that extremely limiting. Especially since I hate squinting through the darn thing.

I have used grid method once in an actual class, though, for a home assignment based on an anatomy drawing of muscles where we had to blow up a 2" by 3" print to 18" by 24". (I was so darn grateful for my T-square ruler, let me tell you!) It was a very time consuming process to fill in the rest of the details afterward for sure.

Personally, I think the area where the grid method is the weakest is when inexperienced artists try to use it as an absolute cheat sheet with photographs and can't make empirical decisions about lighting or areas that may be fuzzy and they have to guess what marks go where. So good photos from which to work are extremely important. I think a follow up tutorial concerning that would be a great idea. :-)

I always love seeing works in progress. It makes me think, hmm, maybe I could do something like that!
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:icontubaqueen:
TubaQueen Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
Oh yes, I realize the art elite always want people to draw from life. Haha, this is when I realized I didn't want to go to art school, too many professors preoccupied with tradition. I hate studio drawing like that. Viewfinders too ;)

I think that since the advent of the digital camera you can get absolutely incredible reference photos, even by yourself. You can see details on a digital image that you could never pick up in a life study. That's what fascinates me about it, I love studying the details of the photo and making choices about what I want to include and what I'd like to change.

Wow I don't think I've use gridding to increase something that much! The most I've done is three times the original size. I've got this neat grid ruler that's 3inches across so I can get the grids done in half the time.

You're right about the weaknesses, but an inexperienced artist is going to struggle regardless, the only way the'll learn is with practice and trying different methods, I'd definitely suggest that an artist just starting out should explore and study the various different methods and see which works for them!

A reference photo tutorial would be interesting though, there's a lot to consider about a piece before you even begin--composition, size, lighting and etc.

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, it's always enlightening to hear from someone with real artistic training :)
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:iconagnespterry:
AgnesPterry Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2011
Well, I'm certainly not done with my classes or anywhere close to it really; I've only completed one full semester of "All art classes" post transferring, although at this point I'm pushing on my fourth drawing class since the other two didn't transfer as drawing classes. >.< But I like drawing anyway, so no biggie.

I think there's real value to be gained in studio work with a setup from someone else's choice of objects that really push one's abilities or that I personally would not have chosen. Of course it ought to be supplementing what one is doing outside of class too, so as to make the most progress. While I may not enjoy some of the assignments (self-portrait in a mirror? yuck- my least favorite, feels like narcissism at best), but I figure if it's better than the last one then at least I am achieving something, even if no one is going to want to ever put my face on their wall/in a museum showing.

There's also the benefit of the critiques and interaction with fellow artists and from professors in class that is hard to get elsewhere, as well as making connections for the future.

Although, I do feel bad for the other students in the Drawing I class I am forced to take, because I've already finished two full assignments based on the still life and am about half-way done with the third, each from different positions in the room. It's not fair to them because I have already learned to draw very quickly and with much more confidence than most of the class and I hope they will not get discouraged. They have not seen what I have through to get to this point, after all. :-/ I'm considering doing the next assignment with my non-dominant hand for practice and to slow myself down a LOT more.
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:icontubaqueen:
TubaQueen Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
I can definitely see the value of being challenged in a class like that, and I wish I had the experience of interacting and networking with many fellow artists. Live critique must be very challenging, it's easier to type critique to someone on DA when you don't have to say it to their face, XD

In a way it would be nice to be assigned subjects to draw, or have time to do things like practice drawing with your other hand. That's something I could never motivate myself to do because I have so little time to do art that I want to complete perfect (at least that's what I strive for), show-able pieces all the time, I never really just experiment and practice any more.
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