Drawing A Grid

A few centuries ago Leonardo Da Vinci used a method to accurately create the outline for his subjects before painting it on canvas. He constructed a wooden grid and placed the grid in between him and his subject. As he looked through the grid, he was able to transfer what he saw in each block over to a grid he drew on his canvas.

This clever trick allowed him to accurately create the proportions for his paintings and drawings. In most of my drawings I also use a grid. Since I mostly work from photographs, I start by drawing a grid over my reference image.

Below you will see my reference photo. Move with your mouse over the image to see the grid.

Draw the same grid on the drawing surface. I use a mechanical pencil for this. It is very important to keep the grid lines as soft as possible. At some stage you will erase the grid. It will be difficult to erase dark lines. It is also important to create a perfect grid by measuring with a ruler.


Creating the Outline

The next step is to transfer the information from each block on the reference photo to the grid on the drawing surface. This is a time consuming process. Concentrate on each block by focusing on the negative spaces. Keep these lines very soft. Do not simply outline certain elements. Focus on the different values...for example, sections of shadows and light areas.

I always keep a clean piece of paper between my hand and the drawing surface. Never touch the drawing surface. This will keep the art work clean but also prevent smudging.


Marilyn Monroe Drawing

Erasing the Grid

Once you are done with the initial drawing you need to erase the grid. I use a click eraser to erase the lines. Carefully erase each line and try not to erase the drawing. If this happens, you can always correct it with your pencil.

Keep a piece of clean white paper between your hand and drawing surface. Never use your hand to wipe away the eraser excess. Use a soft brush, like the one in the picture, for this purpose.


Marilyn Monroe Drawing