This post is part of the "The Art & Science of Drawing" series.

The Art & Science of Drawing - Week 5

image gonvalhector - Sunday, August 30, 2020

I’ve always had trouble with drawing things in accurate proportion. It seems like an aspect that I get wrong in every single drawing in some shape or form, but while practicing the skills I’ve learned during this week’s lessons in The Art & Science of Drawing External Link by Brent Eviston External Link over on Skillshare External Link, I noticed I’ve become more conscious of it during a drawing, and thus, I’m able to either fix or avoid the usual mistakes altogether.

Week 5 - Measuring & Proportion / Drawing with Accuracy & Precision

When it comes to drawing, proportion is the relationships between the size of different parts of the drawing subjects. A drawing that accurately depicts those relationships is a drawing in proportion, while a drawing with recognizable areas either too big or too small would be out of proportion.

To start measuring, we either start at the subject’s widest point for the width, or at the subject’s largest point for the height. We try to use a measurement that would work better as a unit that we can then compare to the other measurement. Our tools for measuring can be anything that is straight, rigid and lightweight; so pencils usually work just fine. Our posture during measuring is key; sitting up straight and not moving is recommended, since any shifts in posture may invalidate proportions. Our measuring tool in hand, with our arm locked right in front of us, our head tilted towards our shoulder and using only one eye, we measure. We take the tip of our measuring tool to delimit one end of the measurement and the tip of our thumb to delimit the other. We use these measurements to draw a proportional box that helps us draw our subject accurately.

The next topic we explore is plumb lines, which are vertical lines that we use to figure out how different parts of our drawing subject line up with one another. We then explore a number of tools that can help us find a true vertical:

The cheapest and most commonly available tool is of course our measuring tool, and as it turns out, points out Mr. [Brent Eviston], we are really good at determining what is perfectly vertical and what is not.

Since every point on our drawing subject has a specific distance and direction from every other point, Angle sighting is a very useful skill that allows us to find that specific distance between any two points, measure it and transfer it over to our drawing. For this transfer to be as accurate as possible we must position ourselves so that our cone of vision is towards the left side of the board and our drawing subject is on our left side, if we are right handed. The opposite is true if we are left handed.
Our drawing board should be positioned so that the angle between the board and our line of sight is 90 degrees, our sight being perpendicular to the board. This will ensure that our angle measurements are not distorted. To extract an angle we hold our measuring tool in front of us with our arm straight and the elbow locked. We can then use our free hand to support the arm doing the angle extraction. With one eye closed, we tilt the measuring tool until it matches the angle desired for extraction. We then slowly transfer that angle in front of the drawing surface, and we draw it. It’s highly encouraged to make several attempts while going back and forth between the drawing and the subject, and comparing them.
Once we’re used to angle sighting we can explore triangulation, which consists of using two known points on the subject to triangulate a third one.

I’ve found these last two skills to be the most useful, and quite fun as well. The more technical aspects of drawing have always been a problem for me, specially since I used to stubbornly view measuring tools and the like as a restrain and a bore to use, but just like Weeks 3 & 4, this week has taught me very valuable skills that if practiced and developed, can really make the drawing process easier and the end result much, much better that if I were to rely on my eyes alone.