# Thread: can somebody explain the pencil measuring technique to me.

1. ## can somebody explain the pencil measuring technique to me.

i dont understand how to translate the measurements youve taken on to paper. i dont know why. it if very frustrating.

if i try to draw an apple from like and i measure it as half the pencils length and half the pencils width at the top and 2/3 the pencils width at the bottom, i get the concept of this.
what i do not get is once i have these dimensions on the page how apply this to actually start drawing.

i dont know why i have never been able to use this method correctly. really frustrating.

2. Jester Level 7 Gladiator: Samnite
Join Date
Jun 2007
Location
Toronto, Ontario
Posts
798
Use your pencil for relative measuring, as you're already doing, and not for absolute measuring. So, if an apple is half of a pencil wide, and 2/3 of a pencil high, you can use this by drawing a rectangle of proportions 1: 1.5 on your paper, and fitting the drawing of your apple inside. The only way to use your pencil for absolute measurement is when your subject is drawn the size you see it, which is sometimes referred to as 'sight sizing' in the academical tradition.

3. thank you very much for the reply, you mentioned sight sizing at the end of your reply. the problem im having which made me start this post is actually the opposite.
im drawing a study of a anatomical model thats about 1 1/2 feet tall draped in a white pillowcase for some figure/value/drapery study. the problem im having is one ive always had but i find little ways around it or ignore it which is that im trying to do a very accurate study of it digitally but i cannot scale down.

i can draw things very well just observing by drawing a quick loose sketch and then refining based off the relationship of things next to it, the limitation of this as far as my skill now is that i cant use this to scale things down. i want this entire thing to fix EXACTLY into the dimensions ive specified on my canvas. usually id just say "its close enough" or just be fine with parts cut off but im not going to grow if i dont get past this stupid little good enough mindset.

the canvas on my computer screen is about 40% the size of the object standing next to it and with the mild abstract shapes of the cloth i cant draw it accurately to fit the 8x10 40% smaller scale.
i know exactly how to fix this problem and its by correct measuring so i begin looking into it again like i always do, but this time i actually want to really sit and try to learn this once and for all. ive been looking through my books and looking up online tutorials and even doing little test pictures on paper with pencil and no matter what size thumbnail i do i CANNOT get the whole image to fit.

i dictate that point a is the top and point b is the bottom. i use my pencil and determine the mid point and the width and once i start trying to draw very angular big shapes it never comes out right. i end up having to add more space for the feet or head or make it wider to look accurate which slowly throws everything out of proportion.

very fucking frustrating. but im trying really hard to get this right.

4. I have a link in my sig to a couple demos on the method. Deborah Rockman's book "Drawing Essentials" has an excellent chapter on measuring as well - one of the few books that goes into the technique in depth.

My advice is just work at it - it's really pretty straight forward.

5. I'd suggest not measuring with the pencil. Not because it isn't a great tool, it is. I've just found that you end up learning to measure without it and that help the learning process. Use features on the face as measurement instead, like an eye. The reason I find this to be better is because you're practicing seeing rather than using a tool to help you see. So in the long run, at least in my opinion, is more beneficial.

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