“Being able to draw what you see is the ultimate skill. Each Evolve student learns to paint from photographs and real life.”
In this video Piper explains how to measure and draw three objects of varying complexity using the proportional drawing method.
What is Proportional Drawing?
Do your drawings look out of whack? There are different drawing measuring techniques however, we like to focus on proportional drawing because it helps create accurate drawings. This technique (which is broken down in detail in the Evolve curriculum) uses a standard unit of measure to compare various objects within a scene. Check out 0:56 seconds into the video above to see Piper finding a standard unit of measure for a simple drawing.
How long does it take to learn to draw proportionally?
All Evolve students spend time measuring before actually tackling drawing proportionally. It's important to practice measuring and make sure your physical positioning is right before actually drawing. If you take a step forward, and draw before you can measure accurately, and that foundation isn't absolutely solid, it's not going to support what you put on top of it.
Our students spend an average of 5 hours only measuring before they begin to actually attempt a first drawing. Mastery of measuring and drawing basic objects is then gained over the course of about five days of practice. This is a skill that is honed over the course of an artist's lifetime.
Tip: It's best to start practicing measuring with a few different sets of three identical objects. You can set up the identical objects in various positions and know for certain that the measurements for each height and width should be the same. It might get boring if you are working with the same objects over and over again, so a little variety will help keep things fresh.
Posture While Drawing
When you sit down to work from direct observation you should sit straight up in your chair with your back firm against the backrest of the chair. A stool with no backrest is not going to be sufficient because little movements in your positioning will change the measurements from where you sit.
Why You Shouldn't Only Draw From Photos
Being able to render what’s in front of you without leaning on photographs is an invaluable skill. While completing drawings from photographs is an essential skill for artists, they also need to be able to draw from real life. Cameras can't capture the complete range of light and color that the human eye sees and photos replicated on computer screens are backlit. Trying to match oil paint colors with a backlit image won't work well as the colors will come out looking different.
That's all for now. Have fun drawing and don't be shy; if you have a question please feel free to leave a comment below.
Final Thoughts on the Drawing Measuring Technique: Proportional Drawing
The grid method, angles, and other methods can be used when objects become more complex and the student has begun to develop their eye and understanding of proportional drawing.
However, even if you use a grid, you still have to have a good eye in order to fill in each square properly. For students just learning how to draw and paint from life, this can be quite difficult. That is why we recommend starting with simple objects and using the measuring technique of proportional drawing to find relationships between the objects to then draw them based on those relationships.
So, other methods are great to use but by starting with the drawing measuring technique of proportional drawing will make other methods used much more manageable.
The 4 Part Framework to Develop Artistic Excellence in 12 Months
I think this works beter an a computer screen then on paper. Because there you have tools that you can flip to make it easy. You can double it ect.
You are correct Cathy! Using the computer gives many shortcuts but it’s always great to possess the skills in case you need to perform them in the wild 🙂
I’m 89 years old and a good artist. I wish I had had the opportunity to be taught all you’ve described. I have only learned by attending some workshops or a class here and there. But art like most things is built on foundations and I know I have missed much. I know your course from the descriptions is a wonderful way for artists to learn and to build on their talent, however it is way to expensive for me.
It’s never too late to pick up a few things to use to improve your artwork!
Have you seen our free depth course? This may give you a few more tips on leveling up your art.
Piper & the Evolve Team
It seems to me that the method discussed is an overly complicated version of the simple grid method. Why would one want to use this over the grid method?
Great question! The grid method is usually used to copy photographs, but it can totally be used to draw from life (check out Durer’s grid, it’s a great example of what he used). However, even if you have a grid, you still have to have a good eye in order to fill in each square properly, and for students just learning how to draw and paint from life, this can be quite difficult. We recommend starting with simple objects and using the measuring technique explained in the blog post above to find relationships between the objects to then draw them based on those relationships. The grid method, angles, and other methods can also be used when objects become more complex and the student has begun to develop their eye and understanding of proportional drawing.
– Piper & the Evolve Team
This works fine if you’re measuring from a photo, but how can it work for direct observation of objects set up on my table??
At Evolve, we teach a method of proportional measuring that can be used to measure objects from a still life box. Using the relationships between objects, our students measure the objects on their table or in their still life box and turn those measurements into drawings and paintings. If you are interested in learning proportional drawing, feel free to check out Evolve, particularly Block 2, where we teach this technique =)
Piper & the Evolve Team
Pipers measurement video,
Simple and complecated at the same time !
One has to learn how to “look” at the subject and remember what they “see” when you learn how to see and remember what you saw. Then all you have to do is practice drawing… every day for maybe a year or two ( maybe more) and then you can think about doing a sketch on your canvas and then start painting!
Sincerely George V
Measuring and drawing from life should start simple, but you can make it quite complex! In our program, we have an entire block of education before we start our students in drawing and painting from life. The goal behind this is, as you point out, to learn how to look and see, and then actually understand what it is you are seeing! Having a guided experience while learning how to do this is crucial, which is one of the many reasons we designed Evolve =)
Piper & the Evolve Team
Is it absolutely necessary to learn traditional art and not digital? I’m more free and comfortable with my iPad. I can take it anywhere—and nothing else needed! Just my apple pen and device.
If you are able to find a course that teaches you the foundations of realism digitally, that would be a great option! One of the reasons we teach oils at Evolve is that it is an extremely beginner-friendly medium! It doesn’t dry too quickly, easily replicates other techniques, and creates archival pieces of art. Plus, we love the medium, tradition, and all it has to offer =)
The foundational knowledge we teach (along with some of the techniques!) do cross over nicely into digital art!
Happy drawing and painting!
Piper & the Evolve Team