One Basic Way To Get The Size Of Everything In Your Drawing Or Painting Right

Well, for today, I thought that I’d go back to basics and talk about a useful artistic rule that is pretty much second-nature to many artists who have been practicing for a while, but which might not be immediately obvious if you’re new to making art.

I am, of course, talking about how to make sure that everything in your drawing or painting is the right size. Or how to draw more complicated things like people sitting on chairs etc..

The rule for all of these things is to sketch the people first before you sketch any other parts of the picture. Once you’ve sketched the people, then it’s a lot easier to make everything in the background the “right” size, simply by comparing it to the people you’ve just sketched.

The thing to remember with size in art, is that everything is relative. In other words, the size of everything in your drawing or painting has to be “correct” in relation to the size of everything else. So, drawing the people first can help you to judge how large everything else in the painting should be.

For example, take a look at this preview of one of my upcoming digitally-edited paintings:

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 15th August.

The magazine that the woman sitting at the table is holding looks about the right size because it is about 2-3 times taller than her hand. Which, if you look at a magazine, is how tall they are (depending on the size of your hands). Of course, the actual physical height of the magazine in the painting is about 3.5 cm (or a little under one and a half inches if you use ye olde measurements) – but it looks like it is the right size, because it is the right size when compared to everything else.

Likewise, the chair that she is sitting on looks about the right size, since the back of the chair is about half the height of her back. It’s a little short, but it still looks roughly correct. Again, if you look at a chair, then most of them will be about this size – although it obviously depends on both your height and the chair in question.

Then, take a look at the man in the foreground. The camera that he is holding is small enough to fit between his thumb and forefinger. Again, if you look at a digital camera, then most of them are designed to be no taller than the gap between an average person’s thumb and forefinger when they are holding the camera in the usual way.

These are just three examples and they may seem a little bit complicated, but they really aren’t. You learn most of this stuff just by observing the world – in fact, you probably already know it, but haven’t really thought about it consciously yet.

Yes, it can take a little bit of practice (eg: looking at things and comparing them to other things etc..). But, after a while, it will become second-nature to you. Still, one of the easiest ways to make these comparisons quickly and easily is to sketch the people in your drawing or painting before you draw or paint anything else.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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