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How to draw with a grid

September 4, 2011

Overview of the process :
(If you would like to download a full screen version of the video along with an indepth, step by step illustrated 16 page pdf lesson on how to use the grid, then visit our Bargain Bin)

The grid method allows us to redraw a picture to absolutely any size without having to worry about proportions, ratios or calculators. All we need is a grid, ruler and a pencil.

The basic idea is that you divide your reference drawing up into equal squares. You then do the same on your drawing paper, only this time, you enlarge or reduce the size of the squares to contain the same amount of blocks as your reference drawing. The blocks have then divided a complex scene up into smaller bite size chunks which makes it a lot easier to judge the positioning of the objects inside each block.

The first step is to Choose the correct size grid. Choose too big a grid and you have too much happening in each block to accurately judge where to place everything, choose a grid that’s too small and we go squint trying to find each block. Choose a grid that you feel you can accurately use to judge the placement of each item. A General rule of thumb would be to use a finer grid for fine detailed pictures and chunky grid for redrawing chunky pictures.

Then place the grid on your reference picture to cover all the objects you want to redraw  in the final drawing. You can also leave some space around the edges too.

Step number two is to count how many block we have along our measuring side, so in this case I will count how many blocks I have top to bottom.

Take you ruler and place it along the length you want to divide up into blocks.

Check if a 1 to 1 ratio will work by counting the amount of blocks off on the ruler. Remember if you have a 10mm grid, you count a block every 10mm, if you are using the 20mm grid, then count a block every 20mm.

We can see that a 1 to 1 ratio is too small, so we try a 1:2 ratio. I am using the 10mm grid, so to make the drawing 2 times bigger, I count a block every 20mm.

If you count of the blocks at this ratio and you still end inside the drawing paper, then you need to keep increasing the ratio until the last block ends off the page. I have had to double up to get my last block to end off the page.

We now “squash” our ruler by turning it sideways until the last block fits the page perfectly.

We have now divided the page into exactly the same amount of blocks as on our reference picture.

Simply mark off the blocks onto your drawing.

Our grid is almost complete. All that is left to do is number the grid exactly the same as the grid on our reference picture.

To transfer the outlines of the major objects to our drawing paper we choose any block on the reference picture and find the corresponding block on the drawing paper.

I always keep my finger pointing towards the block I am working on to ensure I don’t miss a block because you only notice you have missed a block once you have gone all the way around the outline of the object. You then see that the lines don’t match.

Looking at the block you are redrawing, find where your outline intersects with the grid. Plot those marks on your drawing paper grid.

Then see how do those two dots connect to each other. Do the form a straight line, do they curve, do they zigzag. Do the same motion to connect the dots on your drawing paper.

You can now move on to the next block and so on until the outline is complete.

Rinse and repeat for the rest of the objects in the picture.

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