Proportion Tips
How To Prevent Things From Getting "Completely Blown Out Of Proportion"

As I mentioned in the Freehand Sketching lessons, Proportion is the relation of one thing to another, size wise. This definition is better explained with images.

 Remember this house photo?

 This sketch looks all stretched out and squatty


This sketch looks all compressed, nothing close to the house photo. Both sketches are out of proportion. The shapes I drew have no relation to the shapes in the photo.

Here's a tip to help you keep your sketches proportional to your subject matter when drawing from reference (not tracing) or from real life.

Take your pencil and hold it over a section of the photo. Place the tip at a high point and slide your thumb to mark the distance from top to bottom. Don't let go!

Move the pencil over to your horizon line and use this measurement to draw your first line

Go back to the photo and take a length measurement and transfer it to your drawing.

 Work a section at a time


Are you getting the idea? I know you are!

At some point you will have a base drawn with very accurate proportions. You should have enough to complete your sketch.

You can do this with a real subject as well. Stand or sit at a viewing spot, preferably from a station point where you would photograph your subject. Hold your pencil out in front of you at arms length. Move it to a section of your subject and close one eye. You will get the same visual effect as when you where putting your pencil directly on a photograph. Make sure you keep your arm extended fully as you look at each section of the building. You can proceed with a sketch as before.

Now you know why you see artists holding paint brushes or their thumbs out in front of them while they paint from life. It was to check proportions. Very cool!

Your finished sketch should be very close to the proportions of the subject.

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