Comparative Measurement?

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    Comparative Measurement?

    hi guys ive heard about the comparative method of measurement but i dont really get how it works, could nebody teach it to me or at least explain a little? much appreciated thanks

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    I posted this the other day for people but got no responses. But maybe it will help you. This is just dealing with the figure not sure if that is what you want or something more generalized

    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=178522

    Last edited by dpaint; January 11th, 2010 at 06:03 PM. Reason: spelling
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    I can try then some one who will know more can correct me or add to it

    The comparative method of measurement:

    Lets say you are drawing a bottle.

    You mark the base of the bottle as a certain width.

    You then use that base width as your unit of measurement and notice that your wine bottle is about 3 and 1/2 base widths high.

    So in your drawing you mark off these measurements and draw the height of the bottle.

    Your bottle is now in correct proportion regardless of what size you draw it at.

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    The technique is called "sight measuring" which is not to be confused with sight-size measuring (which basically takes sight measuring to the Nth degree). Zazerzs has the right idea but maybe I can add a bit to it (pretty much what Zazerzs said but adding how to do the sighting).

    Study your scene and determine what will be your unit of measurement - it should be something you can easily see and judge. Close one eye and hold your pencil (or ideally, a thin stick like a shish-ke-bob skewer) out at arm's length with elbow locked - measure the width of the bottom of the bottle and place the very tip of your thumb there - now keep that, rotate the stick to vertical and measure the bottle vertically - how many widths is it tall? Establish the bottom of the bottle in your drawing - now make the height of the bottle 3 1/2 (or whatever) times higher than the base width. Do this with everything in your drawing - all comparing to how many bottle bottom widths.

    Other things to look for:
    Horizon - where does the horizon/table edge hit the object?
    Landmarks - these are reference points within an object - where does the bottle start to curve? How far up?
    Axis lines - these are imaginary lines running through the center of an object - look to see if they are tilted, foreshortened, etc.
    Horizontal/Vertical alignments - look to see if landmarks and objects line up along imaginary vertical or horizontal lines - if not how far off are they?
    Angles - what angle is that line/edge at? Hold your sighting stick up right in line with the edge (but keep it flat to the picture plane) - now just swing over to your drawing - do you have that angle laid in correctly? people have a natural tendency to flatten angles toward the horizon.
    Negative space - what is the shape of the negative space between objects?
    Shadow shapes - what shapes are the cast shadows - where do they fall and intersect objects?

    Once you get the hang of it you'll be amazed at how simple it is - yet few people talk about it and I've only seen it well presented in one book. Sight measuring works for any observational drawing of course - figure, landscape, architecture, still life.
    Dpaint's rules of thumb for size relationships are great for the figure too.

    Hope that makes it a little more clear!

    Last edited by JeffX99; January 12th, 2010 at 04:22 AM. Reason: Forgot something important and typos...
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    I concur Thanks Jeff!

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    thanks loads guys, ive been kinda just doing that on my own without actually knowing what its called but thanks lots for clarifying! and ill definitely be checking out taht thread dpaint when i get the time, fresh out of it right now! thanks again!

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    i already see a lot of people have the wrong idea about sight measuring, this does NOT require holding out your pencil, etc. That is completely inaccurate. I am in training with MindCandyMan who uses sight measuring. All this requires is using your eye to compare shapes, angles, horizontals/verticals to one another which can be done without a pencil. Basic example. If you look at a box straight on and try to draw it bigger, smaller, same size, etc, its still going to look exactly the same as long as you get your lengths right which is easy since all 4 sides are the same length. The size doesn't matter, its all about relationships. The only way to learn this method is lots of hard work, time, and practice. Holding your pencil up to measure is a pretty big joke to me, your eye is so much more accurate than any measuring device ever could be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LumoGraphite View Post
    i already see a lot of people have the wrong idea about sight measuring, this does NOT require holding out your pencil, etc. That is completely inaccurate. I am in training with MindCandyMan who uses sight measuring. All this requires is using your eye to compare shapes, angles, horizontals/verticals to one another which can be done without a pencil. Basic example. If you look at a box straight on and try to draw it bigger, smaller, same size, etc, its still going to look exactly the same as long as you get your lengths right which is easy since all 4 sides are the same length. The size doesn't matter, its all about relationships. The only way to learn this method is lots of hard work, time, and practice. Holding your pencil up to measure is a pretty big joke to me, your eye is so much more accurate than any measuring device ever could be.
    Mr. Bridgman? Any thoughts?

    "All measurements of the human figure are divisions of the body into parts of given measurements. There are many conceptions of measuring, scientific and ideal, and they all differ."

    "You have to measure, first of all, with your eye; and by studying the model judge the comparative measurements of its several masses. Then measure mechanically. When measuring mechanically, hold your charcoal or pencil between the thumb and fingers and use the first finger and the tip of your charcoal to mark the extremities of the measurement you are taking."

    He goes on from there. I don't care who you are studying with, please try to refrain from offering your uninformed, amateur and inexperienced advice which only only adds to the confusion.

    Last edited by JeffX99; February 11th, 2010 at 03:55 PM. Reason: Added clarification
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    Quote Originally Posted by LumoGraphite View Post
    i already see a lot of people have the wrong idea about sight measuring, this does NOT require holding out your pencil, etc. That is completely inaccurate. I am in training with MindCandyMan who uses sight measuring. All this requires is using your eye to compare shapes, angles, horizontals/verticals to one another which can be done without a pencil. Basic example. If you look at a box straight on and try to draw it bigger, smaller, same size, etc, its still going to look exactly the same as long as you get your lengths right which is easy since all 4 sides are the same length. The size doesn't matter, its all about relationships. The only way to learn this method is lots of hard work, time, and practice. Holding your pencil up to measure is a pretty big joke to me, your eye is so much more accurate than any measuring device ever could be.
    Sargent used a plumb line to measure. I wouldnt call him a big joke, right?
    I dont think MindyCandyMan thinks the same way as you, ask him about it.

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    Gerome used one as well and also used a pencil to measure according to his students. You know Jean Leon Gerome, the guy whos teachings the Bargue book is based on.

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    Regarding LumonGraphite's comments on measuring... as a guy who usually measures by sight alone with no aides (pencil, Shish kebab stick, or whatever) and has been doing so for many years, I can say there is a huge difference in accuracy between using some sort of measuring stick and going by eye alone.

    You can often do what I call "good enough" with eye alone, but to say using a measuring instrument is inferior to using nothing is ludicrous. That's why we have rulers, what an inch really is can be quite different from what you think an inch is. Similarly using a pencil to measure out the base of a bottle and using that base as the units of measurement all throughout is far more accurate than looking at the base and then comparing everything else to how wide you thought the base was.

    A measuring stick is an objective reference point that does not change, and for precision work it is invaluable. Memory however, tends to be subjective and without an objective aide one will tend to waver from the actual measurements.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    Gerome used one as well and also used a pencil to measure according to his students. You know Jean Leon Gerome, the guy whos teachings the Bargue book is based on.
    And the guy who taught Bridgman, who taught Loomis...

    I believe the point has been well made so no need to be-labor it further. If you prefer not to use a measuring device more power to you. Eventually one requires its use less and less but when learning it is certainly a valuable tool.

    I would recommend Deborah Rockman's book "Drawing Essentials" for an excellent chapter on sight measuring techniques.

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    sweet thanks much for all the great info guys i appreciate you taking the time!

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    i suppose ill elaborate more, when you are learning to train you eye, you use plum lines, and things to check your measurements with your eye. the goal is to eventually not have to use them at all. It's a means to an end. Without having to use another device to measure besides your eye you are removing a limitation. Not having to set your canvas a specific distance away, etc. Anways, i was simply explaining sight measuring, no need for anyone to be upset..

    Last edited by LumoGraphite; February 17th, 2010 at 03:29 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LumoGraphite View Post
    i already see a lot of people have the wrong idea about sight measuring, this does NOT require holding out your pencil, etc. That is completely inaccurate.I am in training with MindCandyMan who uses sight measuring. All this requires is using your eye to compare shapes, angles, horizontals/verticals to one another which can be done without a pencil. Basic example. If you look at a box straight on and try to draw it bigger, smaller, same size, etc, its still going to look exactly the same as long as you get your lengths right which is easy since all 4 sides are the same length. The size doesn't matter, its all about relationships. The only way to learn this method is lots of hard work, time, and practice. Holding your pencil up to measure is a pretty big joke to me, your eye is so much more accurate than any measuring device ever could be.
    This is your idea of explaining sight measuring? Which I had earlier made the effort to give a detailed explanation of...gimme a break. It's ok to be wrong - but when people clearly point out just how wrong you are you're better off with a..."Wow, I didn't realize all those guys used aids and devices for sight measuring - I guess I have a lot to learn. Thanks for pointing it out".

    What made people upset (me at least) is your direct contradiction and dismissal of historical technique I know is valid and I spent a bit of time describing. I also teach this method in my drawing classes and have seen how effective it is. My advice is to not come into a discussion, conversation, thread, etc. blowing smoke like you've got all the answers. Just my two cents.

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    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.


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    LOL - I always forget...

    I need to print out a little Elwell checklist.

    Last edited by JeffX99; February 17th, 2010 at 04:31 AM. Reason: Posting aid
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    Just to clarify since my name was brought up hehe. I do teach sight size methods first and then slowly move students away from that. I do hold up and measure some things sometimes to check things, but I definitely have found that it works best for me to do that to check the big measurements. For me holding my arm out and measuring with charcoal or a brush handle has a big margin of error due to slight shifts of my arm, etc...so I end up having to really check things with my eye anyways. The actual physical act of measuring can sometimes be prohibitive for the small things in my opinion. The student can think they measured it right and then transfer it (trusting it implicitly at that point) only to realize later it was wrong. On a portrait where you are trying to get an exact likeness it comes down to millimeters as I'm sure you guys know...so stepping back with your charcoal and trying to measure such small differences just isn't going to work...you have to do it with your eye.

    Like you guys have said plenty of artists use it to great effect. I once saw Steven Assael use this method where he put diagonal lines all over the canvas before he started working. I had never seen that before...whatever works to get that accuracy though that's for sure! Those with more of analytical personality and are going to go for more measuring...hence Gerome, etc... Gerome is much different from Boldini or someone else who is going to take a more fluid approach to proportion. Now Boldini nailed it sometimes and other times people looked like Gumby though hehe.

    The funny thing is that I think we all pretty much agree on everything actually. Your example with the bottle is exactly right...it's a combination of everything...angles, horizon line, measuring, negative space, shadow shapes. It's the combination of all those things that adds up to precision. So I don't think we would have any disagreements at all about how to approach proportion. That's always the tough thing about proportion...if you aren't paying attention to everything all at once then you can get into trouble. Painting is so demanding that way.

    But I do emphasize the training of the student's eye in my program. Lumographite is reacting against the"copying" atelier drawing method where everything is done in sight size and all values and colors are copied by holding up the mixture and comparing value and color. We talk a lot about relationships...proportion, value, and color etc... as opposed to copying "exactly" what you see there in reality if that makes sense.

    On a side note I've always found that there's always confusion when people start talking about sight size and other terms like that. The specifics of the definition seem to change from one school to the next. I think a lot of things get mixed up based on the terms.

    Don't be too mad at him either...I'm sure when we were all students we had plenty to say as well...it's just how it goes when you are training. He's excited about what he's learning so the passion comes through .

    Last edited by MindCandyMan; June 8th, 2010 at 01:49 PM.
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    Well said MCM. Thanks for clarifying.

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    Thumbs up

    Umm, just a little question here.

    In order to train our eye, would it be better NOT to use any measuring methods at all when drawing from life? (measuring methods = plumb-level method, sight measuring, angle alignment etc)

    Angles are particularly impossible (for me) to estimate; I thought I have it right and when I use measuring to double-check, I realize I'm off by anywhere from 10 degrees to 35 degrees.

    If anyone is kind enough, pls let me know of methods or hell-training where I can improve my angle-gauging skill without measuring. This problem is handicapping me a lot and drawing more doesn't seem to help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xeon_OND View Post
    Umm, just a little question here.

    In order to train our eye, would it be better NOT to use any measuring methods at all when drawing from life? (measuring methods = plumb-level method, sight measuring, angle alignment etc)
    No. You're not just training your eye, you're training your eye, your brain, your hand, and the connection between them. Measuring helps with this. As you get better, you'll do it less and less, because you won't need to.


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    Yeah it's really tough. Angles are absolutely key to being able to see things properly. There's no other way around it but by forcing yourself to get it right...and that means a lot of erasing and redoing at first. Getting proportion is like anything else...kicking a soccer ball, etc... For the first couple years you are doing it you have absolutely no control. Once you are a pro you can place the soccer ball wherever you want...or in art terms place the line in exactly the right place.

    Like elwell said it is a coordination of so many things. You have to first see that an area isn't right...then you arm and brain and eye all have to work simultaneously to get it in the right place. Whatever medium you are using plays a role too...a pencil needs to be used a certain way, a brush, etc...

    If you are having trouble with angles I would suggest getting some of the figure block ins that charles bargue did...the ones that look like this:

    http://www.jphfinearts.net/gallery/M...gue.Figure.jpg

    Copy a bunch of those and really force yourself to get it right. It will require a lot of correcting and you will probably need to start over a couple of times, but if you keep pushing yourself to get it right you will see big improvement in your ability. Just remember when you start out like this it's the same as exercising...the first time you get on the treadmill it is painful and horrible. So it's like that when you first start training your eye.

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    As MCM mentions - angles are very challenging. I try to look for where things cross and overlap to help get the right angle; ie: where an arm goes behind a leg or behind the body. Paying close attention to the negative spaces helps as well. Again like MCM says - measuring for proportion, angles, placement - the big shapes - is where to start. A fairly typical approach is to "construct" the figure starting with gesture, then center "axis" lines for the limbs, then contour, then simple shading block in. That is usually what I shoot for in a 20 minute pose - with longer poses you have a little more time to refine your measuring and develop more subtle shading.

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    Thumbs up

    Thanks guys!
    And I'm glad I got advice from the legendary MindCandyMan today! LOL

    Good day,
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    I'm glad Jeff mentioned negative spaces as in any drawing it can help enormously mainly by not being the object you're drawing, but the space that it lives in relation to other objects. Get the negative space right and the object appears.

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    hey sorry to be gone for so long guys, had a killer end of school what with exams and projects and college tests. glad to see that the threads been of some help to people (including myself) and has stars =) thanks for everyone who contributed

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    I would just like to add from my own humble studently experiences that I experienced a big breakthrough when I didn't just measure horizontal and vertical proportions but also looked at diagonal ones. I think some folks call it triangulation... that helped SO much with me, as well as looking for rhythm lines, which is more of a Reilly thing I guess.

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    I agree with what everyone is saying, and I do believe measuring in the very beginning is essential if you ever want to discard it (for the most part) later on. Being able to "imagine" a plum line as Jon would say is what you will end up doing. And imprinting that thread in your mind as you see it on your canvas/board in all different angles will let you "see it" when it isn't there. Once you reach the point where what you think is wrong and needs to be changed is confirmed when you check it with your thread almost every time you can probably stop using it.

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  57. #29
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    The first thing we were taught in life drawing is measuring. Holding up a pencil, finding a standard (usually the head) and starting to transfer measurements to the paper. It is a very simple accurate process. More power to you if you can create those measurements without all this. For us, measuring was a means to and end. A good drawing. Drawing was also a means to an end. A good painting. How you get there, although not irrelevant, is not nearly as important as getting there.

    Last edited by fanooch; June 18th, 2010 at 05:00 PM.
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  59. #30
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    very useful thread thnks

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