How To Use Comparative Measurement

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Duration: 42:37

When beginning to draw or paint representationally, one of the biggest struggles that artists encounter is how to get accurate proportions, tilts, and the overall look of what they’re aiming to create on their canvas or paper. Even artists with many years of experience can struggle with this—especially when they haven’t developed an effective method to improve their eye for drawing and proportion.

One of the best ways to achieve accurate proportion in drawing is some form of measuring. There are several measuring methods which Mackenzie briefly discusses in this video. Familiarizing yourself with these options can help you decide which approach is right for your project. For this lesson, Mackenzie dives specifically into the process of “comparative measuring” which is an ideal choice for anyone looking to improve their accuracy when drawing free-hand. Comparative measuring has some distinct advantages as compared to other forms of measuring. The main benefits are that it allows artists to achieve a high degree of accuracy while still being very flexible and versatile with your setup and drawing size—artists can stand almost anywhere they want in relation to their subject and can make the drawing bigger or smaller than the reference image or subject. An additional benefit to the comparative method of measuring as Mackenzie teaches it is that it allows the artist to continually improve their eye through a process of going back and forth between drawing intuitively and then methodically checking those intuitive choices for accuracy.

By the end of the comparative measuring process, artists will have established a reliable placement of the top, bottom, and sides in their drawing, as well as highly dependable “anchor” points—these include the exact middle of the drawing as well as quarters both vertically and horizontally. These anchor points provide and excellent scaffolding for artists to confidently move forward with their work adding layers and details, while having a great method of problem solving any drawing issues they encounter along the way!