For any artists working in realism, an accurate line drawing is essential. There are many ways to produce accurate line drawings. Today, I’d like to share a few benefits of using a drawing grid.
The post is written in response to a reader, who asked:
I want to ask you about [the] grid technique, can you … explain the benefits of the grid technique in drawing humans?
I used the grid method for years, so can happily describe just a few of the benefits for the portrait artist and any artist who wants accurate line drawings.
There are, of course, a number of ways to develop accurate line drawings. Tracing from a reference photo and drawing freehand are two common ways to create a line drawing.
Drawing directly from life is another way to create a line drawing, and you can also use a more technical method of measuring with drafting tools.
So what makes a drawing grid so great? Just what are the benefits of using a drawing grid?
The Benefits of Using a Drawing Grid
There are as many benefits to drawing grids as there are artists, so let me focus on a few that have been of special help to me.
Composition & Design Tool
You may not think of it this way, but a drawing grid can be used as a design tool.
You’ve heard of the rule of thirds, right? That’s the rule that divides any composition of any size and shape into horizontal and vertical thirds. The idea is that the center of interest should fall on or near one of the places where a horizontal and vertical line cross.
In this photo, the tree falls right on an intersection.
Also notice that the horizon is near the lower horizontal line. That’s a good thing, too. The composition is not divided into two equal halves, which can make for disjointed drawings.
Those lines form a very basic drawing grid. So even if you don’t use this grid to sketch out the landscape, you are still using a grid.
It doesn’t matter what subject you’re drawing, you can design the best possible composition by using a simple grid as shown above.
The lines and intersections of the grid also provide reference points for placing the features of the face and other details. If, for example, the subject’s eye falls at the intersection of two lines on the reference photo, you can place it at the same intersection on the drawing paper.
Not only does a drawing grid provide a map of sorts for placing the features of your subject’s face and clothing; it provides a map for the position of your subject within the composition.
Simplifies Drawing Complex Subjects
For me, using a drawing grid was a good way to draw complicated subjects more accurately. After I’d drawn enough horses using the grid method, I could draw them more accurately freehand or from life. So it’s also a training device.
But when it comes to complex subjects, like this one, a drawing grid is a must!
(Personally speaking, a drawing grid is a major help in drawing mechanical subjects, too.)
There’s nothing wrong with using a drawing grid for all of your work, though. Especially if portrait work is your specialty.
The grid method of drawing allows you to produce an accurate line drawing by reducing your subject to a series of small squares. You can then draw the shapes within each square, a technique that is often easier than trying to draw the entire subject all at the same time.
Read How to Create an Accurate Drawing Using the Grid Method, a tutorial I wrote for EmptyEasel.
Those are a few of the benefits of using a drawing grid. I’m sure there are others, but you get the point.