A handy little aid to planning out a drawing
These handy little tools are an extension of the view finder framer I use to decide on a composition.It’s just thread wrapped round a card frame, takes half an hour to make one. You holdit out in front of you between you and the subject, parallel with your face, then transfera rough grid to your paper, you can have the main features of a drawing roughed out in no time,no measuring required.
I recently came across this idea in‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’.It’s very like the way I used to grid up mural designs for transferring onto walls, or grid upreproductions of paintings for transferring onto street canvasses – the difference being, of course,that you’re applying the grid to the real world.
Apparently Van Gogh used a similar if more cumbersome grid, which he used to take out with him whenhe was learning to draw. Good company then.
This drawing was roughed out using the little hand held grid. Using the gridmakes it a lot easier to see the subject as a series of interlocking shapes,since each shape has a grid line for at least one edge, making it very easy to transferto the paper. Youreally are copying nature, at least in the relative positioning of the elements.
Betty Edwards, author of the above book, says that this stage of her teaching process morethan any other seems to produce results with her students. She uses the gridto introduce her students to the concept of the picture plane.
Using the grid lets you transfer straight to seeing the world in purely spatial terms with noright brain exercising required. I have a feeling that Betty would get results from her students withthis alone.
The bigger grid has been attached to a couple of chopsticks taped together, so that I canattach it to the camera tri-pod. I can then set it up in front of a still life or a portrait subject,and see the subject immediately as flat shapes of colour and tone.
Although I’m not as concerned with the quality of the drawing on the still lifes as I am withthe colour, it’s going to be a priority when I come to do portraits. I’m beginning to realise how farmy drawing has to go.
Posted 4th December 2005
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