How to… use your pencil to measure proportions

As ever, thanks to everyone who made it to last Wednesday’s class! Those who attended were treated to a quick tutorial in how to use a pencil to measure proportions for figure drawing – and we even handed out free pencils for you to keep (no expense spared at Chorlton Alternative Art Class!) Here’s a quick recap of the technique for anyone who wasn’t able to attend:

manchester life drawing exercise

Hold up a pencil in front of the figure and use your thumb to mark off a particular measurement (the standard unit for measurement is the head – from the top of the skull to the bottom of the chin). Keeping your thumb in place, use this as a yardstick for other parts of the body. How many heads tall is your subject? You can also get an objective measurement of the space taken up by foreshortened limbs, which are often a stumbling block for beginner artists.

Key points to remember:

1. Hold your arm out straight and keep your head still so that the distances between your eye, the pencil and the figure do not change as you measure.

2. Close one eye to remove any inconsistencies created by binocular vision.

3. Hold the pencil perfectly upright at all times with the sharp end sticking up for the most accurate measurement. Slanting your pencil will change the measurement and create inaccuracies.

Hope you find these tips useful, and hope to see you at this week’s class! Remember, we now run weekly so you can turn up on any Wednesday to join in. As ever, here is a selection of sketches from the last class for you to enjoy!

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