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The Basics of Drawing #3: Proportion A Multi-Age Art Level Lesson
by Elaine Ernst Schneider
     March 17, 2001

Leonardo Da Vinci: The Complete Paintings by Pietro C. Marani
Leonardo Da Vinci: The Complete Paintings
Drawing With Children : A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too 
by Mona Brookes
Drawing With Children : A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
Ed Emberley's Big Green Drawing Book



Proportion can be tricky when the artist is trying to look at an object and draw it smaller or larger than real life. Spatial awareness is something that is developed. 

In the early stages of drawing, it is helpful to have a scale. For instance, use graph paper to draw the image. Then repeat the graph design on a larger piece of paper or canvas, making the squares larger in measurement. Try to duplicate the image from the smaller graph to the larger one, working left to right and square by square. 

This is an excellent method for initial drawing before shading or painting. It is also a technique employed in related fields such as architecture, interior design, and drafting. 

With younger children:  Use a larger graph than the typical size of purchased graph paper. You may want to create the grill on a computer or draw it with boxes that are approximately 1” each. Re-create the drawing on a graph that has boxes of 2-3” each.

With the more mature artist: Transfer the first picture from the smaller graph to the larger one. Then create a smaller graph and try to re-create the picture even smaller than the one with which you began.

Art as a Thematic Cross-Curriculum Teaching Tool: Study graphing in math. Plot on number lines and in graphs. Look at a graphing calculator.

For Added Impact:  Once you have re-drawn the picture to the larger scale, slip a piece of tracing paper over the image. Trace it to paper that has no lines, no graphs. Try different pencils to create the effects you learned in Lesson 2 for contour drawing.

Here is your first trial:

small dove sketch with grid

Large dove sketch with grid.


Links of Note
Custom mixed media paintings from your treasured photographs. Contact Eloise or visit her website

Submitted by:  © Elaine Ernst Schneider  is a freelance writer and a teacher. She has been writing since high school and has published articles, songs, and children's work. Today, she writes curriculum for several companies, as well as freelance articles on education and is the co-founder and Managing Editor for the educational website Visit her art website
Send a note to Elaine.

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