Drawing with Proper Perspective: Using Measuring Points and Guidelines

Keeping things in proper perspective is one of the most important parts of drawing. It’s a challenge for new and experiences artists alike.

When we look at objects, their size seems to diminish with distance, but translating this to a piece of paper sometimes results in distorted shapes that aren’t accurate to real life.

After all, you are using pencils and paper to represent three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional plane.

It’s certainly a challenge, but not one that can’t be overcome with practice and the use of some helpful techniques. One of these techniques is to use measuring points and guidelines when sketching your still life.

Simply put, using measuring points and guidelines helps keep objects in your composition in perspective. What this refers to finding a way to accurately measure size and shape when sketching an object.

In architecture, proper measuring point estimation is fairly complicated and mathematic, but for artistic purposes, we just mean a relatively accurate measurement. If you’re drawing a vase and a bowl, and the bowl is half the height of the vase in reality, it should be exactly half the size of the vase on your painting as well.

One common way to use measuring points is with the “thumb and pencil” method. This method is extremely convenient as it requires no additional tools and very little additional brainpower. With your arm outstretched and palm facing downward, grip your pencil in your thumb and index finger, with the rest of your fingers falling naturally where they will on the pencil.

pencil portrait mastery

With your pencil at eye’s height, hold it up to your still life and locate a good measuring point to use. For example, if you’re drawing a vase full of roses, you can hold the tip of your pencil up to a rose.

Slide your thumb and forefinger up on the pencil until you have the width of one rose measured from the tip of the pencil until where your fingers start. Now you have a gauge by which to measure the rest of the painting. You can decide that the vase is three roses wide by six roses tall, for example.

Once you’ve measured everything out, begin sketching guidelines on your paper. What this means is that before starting to sketch the image of the roses, draw some light, straight lines depicting where the vase starts and ends, where each flower starts and ends, and how far each flower is away from the top of the vase, for example.

A similar pencil technique can also be use for angles. If you want a proper angle, you can hold your pencil up to the image in the same fashion as before, but tilt it to exactly match the angle you see.

Without changing the angle of the pencil as you move it, bring it back in front of your paper and quickly sketch that same angle. Make all of these lines very light, as you’ll be erasing them later on once you actually begin drawing the objects.

Using these techniques will help you achieve a more accurate depiction of whatever you are drawing. Remember, when drawing a still life, you must make sure that you are constantly looking back and forth between the still life and your work. Keep bringing that pencil up to test the image size until you have all your measurements sketched out on the paper. Then you can begin drawing the details.


beginner painting lessons

Award Winning Learn & Master Painting 3 Day SALE !!!
sive $100 OFF - Grab it Now Before It's Too Late! Click here...

pencil portrait mastery course

oil painting techniques