Why Portrait Drawing Using Grid Lines is The Best Practice?

Well, who will believe me if I tell someone that I have drawn the portrait of famous pop star, Madonna. That was 25 years ago, and I did it using just a small passport-size photo cut out from an old magazine. Spending 3 days to transfer the portrait onto 14” x 14” paper, with graphite, free hand technique, without grid lines and magnification. Adding to none of my portrait work posted in this blog, it is not convincing enough on my portrait drawing skill. I am not exaggerating how good I’m capable of, but wanting to share with you why portrait drawing using grid lines is still the best practice for beginners. At the same time, below points may serve a good reason to motivate anyone who want to be a natural portrait artist.

Why Portrait Drawing Using Grid Lines is The Best Practice?

  1. It is a proven technique since the Renaissance period. Famous artists using grid system to transfer scale drawings will help to produce portrait art work, that look natural and without distortion. Michelangelo gridded the Sistine Chapel, in fact he got his students to do it for him.
  2. This is definitely not cheating. Drawing using grid lines is not the same as tracing or projection. There is no originality in tracing and does not help a beginner as a stepping stones. You will be comfortable, if this is just a simple school assignment. However, you will not be able to develop good drawing skill.
  3. The purpose of using smaller squares helps the artist to isolate shapes of subjects, thus making it easier to define and draw accurately. Logically thinking, any shapes appear within a small square grid will not mean anything. And that is the main reason to makes drawing less complicated and help focus on smaller scale of shapes. Have you been troubled about where should be the starting point of the portrait drawing? Use grid lines, anywhere can be the starting point.
  4. Another name for drawing using grid lines is called graphing technique. Its helps to make it easy to enlarge or reduce a drawing based on photograph. To enlarge the portrait, simple make the grid on your drawing paper of a larger scale than the one on the photograph. Bear in mind that you only use 3H pencil to draw the square grid very lightly on the paper.
  5. Do you want a distorted portrait drawing? Proportionality is one of the key element in portrait drawing, and using grid lines will definitely guide the artist strategically. Eventually, portrait should resemble the real person, their features and facial expression.
  6. Develop a strong skill in drawings before one is able to paint. This is true! With lot of practice, justification to draw accurately comes in hand when you start painting a photo portrait.
  7. It is still a piece of natural art work, even with the aid of grid. Though shapes are define in a smaller squares, you are still using free hands to draw. As your skill improve, you may just focus on using this smaller grids for drawing the eyes.

Perhaps the next post, I will show my portrait drawings using grid systems. Do you think it will work?