Many of us struggle to draw proportions right. For that reason, I recently started a series about them, to help you and many other artists draw them right. You can read the first part of the series here if you don’t want to miss out on it. :)
Since many artists may just want to get some quick tips on drawing proportions, I chose to make this into its own post. That way, I could reference it any time I mention proportions around this blog.
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Okay, let’s start with the tips~
Quickly go to:-
- Study The Proportions Before You Draw Anything
- Learn Basic Proportions, But Don’t Get Too Hung On Them
- Check Your Proportions Every Step Down The Line
- Flip Your Drawing
- Start With Simple Object
- Get Constructive Feedback…
- Practice Your Proportions By Drawing The Same Thing.
- Except To Fail
- And Finally
By that, I mean you take note of the various relationship between the objects or parts you’re drawing. It’s a common mistake to take into account only one or two relationships, then to start drawing based on them. Only to discover the other relationship you didn’t take into account, and that you made few mistakes because of that.
Being able to apply relationships as you draw is nice, but if you’re not used to draw proportions right, you need to make things easier on yourself. At least at the beginning.
That particularly goes for the objects that have known proportions, like the human body. Learning these proportions can make it easier to draw the body accurately. It’s also a good way to practice drawing your proportions, which is why I encourage you to learn them.
The thing is, human proportions come in different sizes, some human are short, while others are tall. What matter eventually is the relationship between the different parts of the human body. Many areas of art are all about learning the rules to break them, once you learn how to draw the standard human body right, don’t hung on it. Try to break out of it, and use it as a basis to learn to draw different kinds of the human figure, like kids, short people, people with small or huge bodies.
It’s very important to say that to break out of these pre-determined measurements, you may need to improve on some other skills. To give you an example, drawing the human body in different poses, and from any angle, you will need to learn to draw in perspective.
What I say here doesn’t just apply on the human body, but to anything with a pre-determined proportions, but I used the human body as an example, since it’s very common.
Since different proportions depend on each other, any proportion mistake you make could propagate and affect the whole drawing. For that reason, double-checking each part you draw could be vital in getting your drawing right. I know this is awkward and not fun in many ways, but it could save you a lot of the time you could spend correcting these mistakes later on, which can be frustrating.
This tip goes along the line of checking your proportions down the line. If you worked on a drawing for some time, your eye will get used to it, which could make it harder to spot some very simple mistakes. Flipping your drawing allows you to break out of that, and to spot such mistakes easier.
If you draw using paper & pencil, and other traditional means, then having a mirror nearby can easily help you check the flipped version of your drawing. If you draw digitally, many drawing programs like Photoshop has a tool to go flip & rotate the canvas to your heart content.
Starting with simpler stuff is a good way to learn proportions. If you struggle at drawing simpler stuff, then you will be frustrated when you draw the more complex stuff, like the human body. Drawing such simple objects may be boring to some artists, but it will help you build some foundations you could use to draw harder objects.
This is another tip that applies to every aspect of drawing & art. Getting feedback on your proportions can help you spot the mistakes you couldn’t detect yourself, even when flipping your drawing. Not all of us are good self-critiques, after all.
Likewise, getting feedback from others can also be a good way to spot any other issues in your drawing.
This tip can be applies with the other tips. Picking up a certain drawing, then practicing drawing it with the right proportions over & over. After a good number of attempts, it will become much easier to draw that drawing right, and your measuring skills will become slightly better.
Do it again with another drawing, and you will notice the improvement, though you will still need to go about that second drawing again & again. After you repeat the whole process with a number of drawings, you will notice that you ability to draw proportions are much better. Even when you’re not specifically practicing them.
I know how boring it can be do what I am saying here, but it’s the aspect of drawing I highly suggest you force yourself to do. You will appreciate the improvement you get after some time, and then you will be willing to do it yourself.
Not to say this to discourage you, but it’s very expected that you do well with proportions at the beginning of your practice. As I said in the introduction post of this series, you’re are going to take more time doing your measurements at the beginning, and they will be off despite that. The more you try, the more they will appear right, and the less time it will take you to measure things. Just the fact you’re focusing on improving one aspect is your drawing means you’re on the right track (as opposed to the artists who try to improve at everything at once, and then get mad they never got better).
Drawing & improving upon my proportions has been one topic I want to know about myself. I wish there was a post with actual practical tips on it, which more of a reason to write this post. I really hope you find this post useful. If there’s any way you think I can improve on it, I am all ears.
Next in the proportions series:- What’s Negative Space? And how it can make you draw better? From proportions to design.