Choosing and Using Pencils
Need to know what the 'H' and 'B' and those numbers mean?
Which one to pick for line drawing, which one for shading?
And can you use an eraser, or not? This graphite pencil FAQ
has the answers for those frequently asked pencil drawing
Drawing Using a Grid
When copying a photograph or drawing, small errors compound
each other, and its easy to end up with everything out of
proportion. A grid solves this by giving set reference points
at regular intervals. Drawing with a grid is also great way
to train your eye and hand, helping to build your confidence.
This illustrated step-by-step lesson shows you how.
Choosing a Picture and Grid Size
When selecting a picture to copy, make sure it is large and
clear. You might wish to photocopy or do a computer printout
rather than drawing directly on a photograph. You need an
image with clear lines and edges - a blurry image makes it
difficult to find a line to follow.
Decide on your grid size. If the grid is too large, you'll
have to do too much drawing in between each square. If the
grid is too small, you'll find it difficult to erase, and
it can get very confusing. There is no definite rule, as the
size of your picture and the subject can be so varied - but
something from one inch to half an inch will be about right.
You don't have to divide your photo up mathematically - if
the last squares are only half filled, that's fine.
A Few Squares at a Time
When copying the picture, use spare sheets of paper to cover
some of the image, so you can focus on a few squares at a
time. This is especially useful for large pictures which can
become confusing. Place your drawing and the original picture
close together, so you can look directly from one to the other
The Finished Grid Drawing
The completed grid drawing will include all the major lines
of the object - outline, important details and clear shadow
shapes. If you want to indicate the position of subtle details,
such as a higlight, use a light dotted line. Now you can carefully
erase your grid, patching up any erased parts of your drawing
as you go. Then you can complete it as a line drawing, or
add shading. If you need a very clean surface, you might want
to trace your completed sketch onto a fresh sheet of paper
Following Shapes and Using Negative Space
Look for clear edges in your picture. With this example, you
can clearly see the outline of the jug against the background.
Notice where the shape crosses the gridline - this is the
reference-point that you can use. Don't try to measure where
it is on the grid, but rather judge its position (halfway
up? one-third?) and find the same spot on your drawing grid.
Follow the shape, looking for where the line next meets the
The area shaded gray shows a NEGATIVE SPACE formed between
the object and the grid. Observing these shapes can help you
follow the shape of the line. Notice how the gray space looks
fairly triangular, with a couple of chunks taken out - that
makes it easy to copy.