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Blending Blending Demonstration Tortillons


Don't let anyone tell you, that using a grid to create an accurate reproduction of a subject is somehow wrong or a form of cheating. It is a very basic but extremely effective tool and eliminates many of the basic problems encountered in drawing such as: perspective, proportion and relationship. Leonardo da Vinci and other great masters used this same method and it was even regarded, at one time, as a trade secret. Using nothing more than a pencil and a plastic 12" ruler, an accurate linear drawing can be produced with very little practise. It is this accuracy that is essential when drawing lifelike portraits!
Albrecht Durer, Draughtsman making a perspective
Drawing of a Woman

To create a grid, simply apply accurate, vertical and horizontal lines to the photo or picture that you're going to draw. The grid can be drawn directly onto the original photograph or onto a good photocopied reproduction. I actually drew my grid of half inch squares, using 'Paint Shop Pro' for accuracy, onto an A4 sheet of paper and then photocopied this onto clear acetate. This is then clipped over the original subject and fixed securely to prevent movement.
This method prevents marking and damaging of the original picture... very important if working from a customer's cherished photograph.


As a beginner and taking the cartoon of 'Oliver Hardy' as a whole, the prospect of drawing an accurate copy probably seems rather daunting... but the grid, placed over it, has divided everything into a collection of fairly simple shapes. If you progress square by square and simply draw the contents of each one, you'll find that you should be able to draw very accurately. Your first couple of attempts may not be perfect, of course, but with just a little practise, this method will be an invaluable tool to aid you in producing lifelike portraits. Demo

Lightly draw a corresponding grid onto your drawing or layout paper. At this stage you can actually enlarge your copy by increasing the size of the squares... if the original grid was half an inch, you can double the copy size by drawing 1" squares... or 12" squares if you wish to draw a mural on the side of your house.
Taking one square at a time... find exactly what is contained within it... decide where each line begins and ends within that square... is it straight or does it curve slightly? You should end up with something like the image on the right...

Et voila!... the finished inked, drawing.
Not bad considering the only tools we used were a cheap plastic ruler and a pencil.
In this particular case, I inked in the drawing using the original picture as reference before erasing the pencil grid. With my pencil portraits, I usually erase around the subject and simply blend any remaining pencil lines into the shading. Hopefully, this page demonstrates that the gridding method does actually produce a faithful reproduction of just about any subject you wish to draw: automobiles, flowers, animals... and of course portraits.

You can see how I actually use the gridding method to produce one of my portraits
in my 'Matt le Blanc' Step by Step demonstration.