How to Start your Drawing

Good Afternoon all! Today I thought I would talk about my use of a grid method. It isn’t the full grid but acts as rulers on either side of the page.

I have gotten into a routine now with all my drawings. I don’t like drawing a full grid but just a side bar acknowledging the inches. As you can see from this image I mark each side in 1 inch increments. In this example I have used a pen but typically it’s a 2H pencil.

The next item we need to address is our reference photo. I open the toucan drawing reference photo in Photoshop (I am sure you can use whatever program you feel comfortable with. Crop the image how you want it, cropping it to the ratio of your paper. So I was working on an 8×10 inch so my crop is 8×10 inches. Then we want to make sure the ratio will be correct. 

Go to Images –>Image size–> change your document size to the size your drawing so 8×10 inches for me with a resolution of at least 300 pixels/inch.

The next thing to do is to put your grid on your reference photo, so to do this is PS (Photoshop) go to Viewà showà grid. Then we want to edit our grid to show inches. So go to Edità Preferencesà Guides, Grids, and Slices. Then set gridlines to 1 inches, and subdivisions 1.


Hopefully this video helps. I apologise for the lack of audio, I will update later.

So why do I do a partial grid on the paper for the artwork, instead of drawing a full grid?

Well… What I love about drawing are my skills getting better. I find when I draw a full grid I get lazy. I don’t have to think that much with a full grid. The side rulers, allow me to first attempt to draw it on my own. But allows me to double check my drawing when I need to.

If you like drawing the whole grid by all means do so. But I would also try this as well to see how you like it.

Why did I start doing this?

Once I started taking up commissions, sketching without any guide was taking too long. Not being able to chose your reference photo means you get some very difficult positioning. So this allows me to quickly draw the subject with a lot more accuracy.

It also allows me to position the subject how I like while taking the guess work out. I can see before hand how the drawing will balance on the page. This is very important with tight compositions, or multiple subjects.

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