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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Thanked 273 Times in 205 Posts

    Trouble/confusion over measuring


    I've been practicing Sight-Size on Bargues for about a month and half
    already, and so I've decided to try something different by copying a
    figure drawing by just using measuring.

    I've found this more difficult and a bit complicated than Sight-size,
    and this caused me to not fully grasp the procedure. I guess my main
    problem is the placing of salient points after I've drawn the vertical
    and placed the top, bottom and middle marks. This is where I get lost.
    How should I start placing points? How do I locate the placement of
    these points? It would be great if you guys can give me tips or
    techniques. A visual demonstration would help a lot if it's available.
    I use a thin brush as my plumbline, by the way.

    I will post the copy I've drawn of Andrew Loomis' drawing here, as well as the original. There's a lot of errors in measuring
    as I'm not sure of what I was doing. Basically, my drawing was done
    mostly by eye. You'll also notice that the hand is cut off as the
    drawing was too large for the scanner.

    Thank you!



    Trouble/confusion over measuring Trouble/confusion over measuring

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
    i think one of the best things i can do is point you to The Practice and Science Of Drawing by Harold Speed. have you read it? worth having a look at again even if you have. find it online at gutenberg if you haven't got it already.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Kaunas, Lithuania
    Thanked 96 Times in 42 Posts
    here's a direct link to save you some time: - it's well worth a read.

    Can't offer any measuring-specific tricks, sorry. Not sure if it works equaly well on bargues, but these helped me with finding errors when drawing from life:
    1. note proportions and angles of negative space triangles (like the one made by her left arm and the space between the legs or the one made by the bridge of the nose and the eyebrow).
    2. Get into the habbit of backing off from your drawing and inspecting it from a distance.
    3. quickly switch the eyes from the copy to the original and back. Back & forth, Back & forth, etc. Usualy the more serious errors appear.

    That's not much of a help, perhaps I'm just missing the point here. From my experience, it's not wise to trust measurements alone, often they're less precise than good ol' hand-eye coordination and benefit your learning less. It's just not worth the time invested, unless you need to learn drawing blueprints of complex bridges or otherwise do engineer-draftsman kind of work.

    Btw, in this case seems like your drawing is stretched horisontaly. It has always been a big problem in my drawings. One way of overcomming that is to draw everything slightly more streched in the vertical axis than it appears to you, sort of a hardware adjustment on your arm-hand link; as stupid as it sounds, what helped me was standing in front of an easel and drawing just vertical lines for 5 hours straight.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Thanked 225 Times in 153 Posts
    Patdzon, my recommendation would be to build a grid around your figure in relative proportions. There's an easy way and a hard way for that. Easy is to grid the whole paper, but I don't like that as the grid won't fit the figure that well. Instead, grid the outside lines by the farthest points of the pose, in this case the top hand, front foot, and elbow. Next break that box into halves or quarters and as many diagonals as you need. For example:

    Trouble/confusion over measuring

    Now, 2nd step is to recreate that grid on your drawing. First, mark the top and bottom extremes for the hand and foot, then draw your center line (blue in above example.) Divide that line into half and quarters.

    Where it gets tricky now is how wide is the grid relative to your drawing page. Easy way is to measure the source image from the bottom point to the first horizontal line above it, and then measure that distance on your page (let's say it's 10 cm and 20 cm.) Measure the points from the center line to the toe, like in the green lines above (maybe 8 cm.) Your line to that toe is 16 cm. Once you establish that point, you can complete the rest of the grid with a diagonal from the toe to the center and so on.

    A harder way is to just eyeball where the toe should be. This will train you to guess properly, which is a good thing. Expect to make a few corrections along the way, and you'll probably want to draw a rough gesture of the whole figure to see how it all works out, and then finish the grid.

    Also, I'd suggest only making marks of where the main points of reference need to be (nipples, butt, shoulder, etc.) This way it frees you up to draw the shapes with a sense of space and form rather than just relying on how those lines fit your grid which can make you tighten up. Don't lose sight of how the figure twists in space. Those nuances make for a better drawing.

    Hope that makes sense.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Fort Myers, FL
    Thanked 44 Times in 10 Posts

    Don’t abandon the idea of finding points by subdivision. Sight size is a good tool but subdivision to locate points of height allows you to not have to be set up sight size to draw. I now start almost every long drawing I do this way.

    First decide the size you wish to draw and place top and bottom points (I know you already got some of this but I will try to explain step by step).

    Note: Don’t draw to large- you only have a certain range in your cone of vision that allows for acceptable distortion. I allow that I must be 1.5 times the distance from the widest dimension of the drawing on my paper –ex: a 12 inch figure drawing, my eyes must be at least 18 inches away form the paper. I suggest to students to be at least 1.75 or 2 times the distance if they are not as practiced.

    Second. Find a midway point on your subject and your drawing (guess first, check by comparative measuring after-this helps to train your eye) THIS MUST BE RIGHT OR THE REST WON'T WORK.

    Now proceed to subdivide either the top or the bottom half. First look for something halfway. If there is nothing look for something that is a third. None? Try a forth. There may still not be anything. Don’t get scared just make an educated guess. For example -there appears to be a point a little below halfway between my top mark and my midpoint. Place it the best you can. Once you have something get creative to check it using comparative measuring. Example-how many times does one of my smaller lengths fit into the whole? Make your best guess and leave it for now.

    Now find another length to subdivide. And again use logic to make your best guess. This will form new height segments. Again, relate them to each other and to the whole. Be willing to revise all previous points with the exception for the top, bottom and middle.

    Don’t use more than 6-9 points in total (just gets to hard to keep track of them all).

    The more you compare the more you will weed out error. Do these comparisons until you can’t find errors. Now you have concrete units of measure to get widths from and to guide the placement and size of shapes.

    This will take a while but it gests faster with time and so does your eye in seeing these height relationships. It can save an enormous out of time from reworking a drawing where you find the height relationships are off. Remember you are not looking for an exact point you are approximating and revising until you can not make any better approximations.

    Hope it helps.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Thanked 273 Times in 205 Posts
    To Everyone,

    Thanks for all the AWESOME help!


  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Thanked 379 Times in 63 Posts
    yes, very good tipps indeed, thank you guys!

    some thoughts:

    -the aim is to train your eye, right? don't over-measure! when you try to find a point ALWAYS use your eye first to make the best guess you can make and THEN check with the measuring tool (needle/brush) - like mentioned above
    -start with measurements!
    -measurements taken horizontally and vertically are usually a lot more precise than something with an angle to it
    -to avoid the problem of making a figure appear too long/short/thick/narrow, you can also compare widths with heights, for example: measure elbow to front of belly (yellow line) on the model/original drawing, keep the measurement marked on needle/brush and try to find another relationship where this measurement "fits in", such as chin to bottom of fingers (green line) - then check if the same works on your drawing. the more identical measurements you can find the better, because the more you can easily check on your drawing

    Trouble/confusion over measuring

    hope that helps!

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Santa Rosa/San Anselmo, Calif.
    Thanked 418 Times in 161 Posts
    after you measured once, measure again because chances are you didnt get it right the first time... trust me i know

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    how do you place the drawings??

    I'm wondering if you have both the drawing you're doing and the drawing you're copying in the same plane? I understand that can make a big difference. Also I read in Art and Visual Perception that most people tend to subdivide a vertical line incorrectly--too high, I think--so it might help to double check that carefully. If it's a small drawing, even a tiny bit could be significant. I have similar problems measuring, so I'm really grateful for this thread. Judy W

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