# Thread: mechanically measuring

1. ## mechanically measuring

so you use a pencil or charcoal to do that.. i don't get it.

i bought george B. Bridgman's book on drawing from life and it tells you to hold the pencil/charcoal between your fingers and thumb(how so? the thumb vertically or horizontally?)

then it says use the first finger (index finger i guess?) and the pencil/charcoal to mark the extremities of the measurement.

i don't get how it works..how does it work?

2. When you put your pencil up, the point is at one end of the object being measured and your thumb nail the other. Then for everything else is a proportion of that. Using your finger is the same, measure things in joints. Just make sure you put your arm out at the same distance each time.

3. Measuring anything is a matter of choosing a "unit" and multiplying it to verify distances and proportion. The simplest example in art is the "heads" technique--how many heads high/wide/long/from another point is something. Don't get hung up on using a tool to do this. It's a nice way to start, but you should develop the ability of doing it completely "by eye" as soon as possible.

The traditional "pencil/charcoal stick" measuring (from one end of item to where your finger is) is most useful for proportions. At arms length, the distance from the top of the head is exactly the same distance as "x" other points, or some fraction/multiple of that distance.

The worst thing in art is "assuming." Assuming that both nipples/eyes/hips line up horizontally, that all arm and leg distances are automatically equal, in spite of the fact that the stance, perspective and foreshortening all affect reality. You must--MUST--see with your brain, not your eyes. Little aids can be useful, but are not necessarily the best crutch to depend on long-term.

Get yourself into the habit of finding the straight-line distance (for example) from the nose to that elbow AT THIS ANGLE, then find other major reference points like that knee or that hip, etc. that are the same distance BUT AT THIS ANGLE. This is the basis of accurate rendering/proportion. Doing this completely in your skull isn't that hard...you just have to concentrate.

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