How to use sighting to draw better

sighting pencilEver had a drawing that just didn’t look right? Maybe you twist your head and squint at it a bit. hmmm. something isn’t right! You ask someone to look at it. “The arms too big” says your friend. Ohhhh, why didn’t I see that? Well its probably because you weren’t sighting. Ya know whenever you see artists use their pencil in the air? They aren’t just showing off, its a way to measure and get your proportions right.

There are different ways to sight. One of the most common practices is comparative sighting. It’s when you take a base measurement (most times the head) and you take that measurement and compare it with other parts of your drawing. Let’s say your subject is sitting on a chair. You take that head measurement and see how tall your subject is. If they were standing it would be different as some of us were taught in school.

Another way is plumb and level sighting. Basically, you take your pencil and hold it horizontally and vertically. You’ll soon start to see that things start to align with each other. Perhaps a knee is aligned with a hand or a nose is aligned with an ear. Depending on what your subject is, you’ll start to see these alignments. This will help you map out your drawing and to make sure everything lines up.

Lastly, something new I just learned. This trick is to use midpoint sighting. You estimate what the middle of your subject is. You take your pencil, put the tip at the top of your subject with the thumb at your estimated midpoint mark and then turn it upside down so the tip is at the bottom of the subject. If you did it right, it should be at the bottom. With this point your can divide your drawing into two equal parts while knowing where the midpoint is. When you start drawing, the drawing should line up to the midpoint on your paper.

For our classes, the Teacher posed for the students and drew the Teacher in a series of gesture and close study poses. We didn’t focus on the face but at the proportions. A person is really good to practice this because your friend can point it out right away. If they don’t say anything, your good to go.


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