“My son draws well. Look! At five he can draw so well. I couldn’t even draw a circle at his age. Do you think I should encourage him to take up Drawing? Enrolling in classes isn’t happening any time soon. But I don’t want him to waste this time either. What should I do?”
This is a common query I received, more so in the last year. There is a possibility that the parent was not all that good at Art but the child is blessed and talented in Art. With home schooling ‘Art or Drawing’ as a subject is often neglected. The concentration is more on the other book and score subjects. But if your child is good at Art, how can you help him sharpen his skills? Even if you are not very good at it yourself!
Have you seen a potter make his earthen pots? He shapes them, bakes them and once it’s dry : the shape is fixed, it’s strong and sturdy. It is the same with any sort of training. Same with Art too! We have to ‘train the hand.’ A child’s hand at Art is exactly like that soft mud of the earthen pots that can be shaped. It then becomes important to shape it correctly. Otherwise the pot might not turn out they way you wanted it to, even if the mud was suitable and perfect for making pots. I hope you get the point. Once we learn to draw using instruments we cannot unlearn and draw without them. Most Art schools do not allow the use of scale or rulers or any instruments for that matter.
The most easy access these days is video tutorials on Art. I like them, some of them are really good. My only issue is the foundation. Online tutorials are good for additional inputs or bettering something you already know. On the other hand if you were to learn something you don’t know anything about, I’m afraid the online videos would mean learning in a haphazard manner. Skipping steps and jumping because this system of learning is about convenience and many times they don’t show all the steps.
Besides when we do something by ourselves : we do more of the stuff we like over and over again while we leave out the parts we find difficult. No! Please don’t mistake that as practice. Practice is doing anything we are learning again and again to be better at it.
If you have a good foundation and learn the basics, then learning from anywhere including video tutorials will be very quick and easy. For my calligraphy class we practiced lines and curves for a month, till I got them right. My teacher taught me how to hold the pencil while drawing by actually clasping my fingers and making me do those lines again and again for months until I could draw them fluently.
That comes naturally to me now, like it’s a part of my movement. Just like the hardened earthen pot. My hand has taken shape. No doubt it takes time and practice. And every teacher has a different method of teaching. In this post I am trying to tell you what these foundation materials are. So when your child learns to draw you can make sure they begin from step 1 and build a strong foundation. These things can be taught only in person, so it puts the onus on the parent.
It may be boring but when a drawing teacher makes the child draw lines and shapes for the first few classes, don’t be in a hurry for them to begin drawing actual meaningful stuff. It’s like running even before your learn to walk. First learn to stand, then walk and then run. In the same way draw lines, curves, shapes neatly in clear strokes. In future for anything we draw we first draw rough lines and curves and then the final shape.
Pro Tip here: Use a 2B pencil slightly blunt to draw. Use a regular pencil and not the pen-pencil or changing points fancy pencil as your first drawing pencil. Even if you use them select a 2B lead. HB lead is for writing dark and legible- not for drawing. Strokes drawn with a 2B pencil are light and can be erased easily.
Consciously make a note and see how you hold the pencil when you draw. Holding it like shown in the second picture will give hard dark lines that are difficult to erase and restrict movement for large strokes. Try it! While in the first one you will be able to move the pencil freely, drawing long lines in a single stroke without lifting the pencil. We can also see what we are drawing. Can draw by lightly touching the paper and strokes can be erased without leaving any marks.
Practice drawing different shapes. Here in one of the pictures I have drawn the axis and then the circle showing a glimpse of how we use reference lines for drawing. Next to that is circles directly drawn. The axis have to be straight because the rest of the drawing depends on it. Further most drawings are combinations of basic shapes. Practising these ensures training the hand for free movements to draw.
I am holding the pencil differently to draw this border without the use of a scale. It measures to about half inch border on all sides. I take the help of my drawing board or book edge to lock my fingers and steadily draw a line parallel to it. Warning!! Please be careful the edge of a new paper is sharp enough to cut your hand. Try this only under supervision of an expert.
This is about drawing lines without using a ruler or a scale. Below I am showing ‘How to measure and draw symmetrical drawings without using a ruler or scale’ or any other measuring instrument.
I am using the drawing pencil to measure and make markings to draw a symmetrical object. Here one half side is drawn and I have to match the other side to complete the object. Following the steps :-
- Half side is drawn and I have made axis at major turning points.
- Measuring the distance of the intersection point on drawn side with the pencil.
- Making the same intersection markings on the other side.
- See all the marked points. Can make points for the length and width as required.
- Join all the points to match the drawn half.
- Erase or add markings and corrections till they look visually same.
This method of measuring is also used while drawing live in person. That is when the subject you are drawing is in front on you. When we draw from a picture we make a similar grid and then match points to draw alike. They say the measuring tools are in the eyes of the artist. However not everyone is so good at it and so these other methods can be helpful.
Drawing this vase also demonstrates how we use lines and curves while drawing. These are basics and the foundation to drawing. Once you learn to draw like this, I am sure you will be able to draw most of the things. Have an Arty Weekend!
4 thoughts on “Drawing without using a Scale or a Ruler”
I agree about lack of basic skills when somebody follows tutorials which look nice. That means the person who demonstrates it has spent already numerous hours (or they should have) practicing and elaborating their skills.
I’ve taught art for quite a few decades. Even 10 years ago, it was much easier to start with teaching basics first and then move up to more complex subjects and introduce refined drawing and painting principles.
With nowadays availability of tutorials, technical means to copy, paste and trace, as well as enlarge, print and just use the photo outline, most people who say they’d love to learn drawing, don’t even mean that. They come for results. That creates an issue because nobody can achieve result without any previous knowledge and practice.
When I was young, and that was about 60 years ago, we didn’t have any of technical help. That made me draw straight from reality and learn along the way. I personally always emphasize that real drawing is done looking at real subject in real setup or viewing it outdoors. That way, one develops great observational skills and is able to draw what they see. No need for grids, scales, anything.
When one learns reproducing photos, they might never be able to get back to drawing and painting from reality. I’ve watched thousands of my students progress and develop skills, but it’s tough these days because nobody is interested in basics, everybody wants the masterpiece right with the first attempt. I’ve written numerous articles about this, however, there’s no change.
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Hi Inese! So nice to hear from you. Yes, indeed people want instant results these days. Unlearning and then learning with the correct method is also difficult. I understand what you are saying. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. We can only guide. Let’s hope someone yet beginning to learn reads this and learns Art the correct way 😀 I just saw your work. It’s beautiful!