How to use grid

Drawing with the help of grid is one of the best childhood games. Moving a fragment of a picture on a grid makes it much easier to work and is a great tool when you want to draw or paint from a photo. Learn how to improve your realistic drawings with just one tip!

Of course, the grid does not have to be used only for copying. Painters and artists use it willingly when determining the best set of individual elements of the composition. Creating a small initial sketch saves a lot of time, so it’s no wonder that it is more practical than correcting many mistakes later. Not always what looks good in the imagination works well on paper, so it’s good to see if what we’ve set up will look good.

Using auxiliary lines, we not only accurately copy the image, but also scale it without any problem. To make it easier to work, the drawing we want to copy can be divided into squares and rectangles so that they all have identical proportions. For example, a photo with dimensions of 16x8cm can be divided into squares with dimensions of 2x2cm. In this way, the long edge will be divided into 8 squares, and the short edge will be 4. Then, all you have to do is to divide the card on which you will draw so that the number of grids at one and the other edge is identical.


Depending on the size of our base, we will, of course, have to proportionally increase (or reduce) the size of the small squares. The easiest way is to copy in a 1: 1 scale, but with a good thinking you can also use a thousand other combinations

First method:

Let us assume that our photo 16x8cm is enlarged three times. To find the right format for paper we just have to multiply the length and width three times. In this way, the format of 48x24cm comes to us, which we must now order so that we agree on the number of squares. If we assume that the 16x8cm photo will be divided into squares with dimensions 2x2cm, then the squares on the 48x24cm black paper will have (after multiplying by three) 6x6cm. The more squares we divide the paper into, the more detailed the drawing, but also more work. So as not to get nystagmus as with puzzles, just a few or a dozen grids.

Second method:

However, there is one more option. As we can not always afford to adjust the format of the card or stretcher, sometimes we have to play with the mathematicians, because the dimensions of the squares can not be freely enlarged and reduced (especially when the sizes are unusual). What then?

If we have a 16x8cm photo, divided into squares with dimensions 2x2cm (of course, the dimensions may be different depending on our whim ) and the piece of paper on which we are going to draw is A4 (or 29.7x21cm) we will have to do this:

If we assume that our 16x8cm photo will be divided into 2x2cm grids, the longer edge will be divided into 8 equal parts, and shorter into 4. The same part must be – at one and the other edge – also on the A4 sheet, on which we will move the picture. To make it work, however, we must pay attention to the proportions of the scaled image. One of the edges of the A4 sheet will not match, because when you divide a single edge, it will be too long or too short, so at one side you will have a small margin.

Grid applications for realistic drawings

There are also applications that will prepare for you a reference photo with grid. One of them is Gridify. It’s a web app, all you have to do is to import your reference photo and set how many grids do you need. You can print your image or save as png file.

“Grid Drawing Tool”  is another great website tool that additionally allows you to crop your image, and adjust the brightness, contrast, and saturation of your photo reference. This site is a part of the “ArtTutor” community, that offers online classes and free guides.

On Google App store you can find plenty of application that will help you to create a grid, such as Artist grid, “Drawing Grid Maker” or “Grid Drawing“. Take a photo of your reference with a smartphone or tablet, add the grids, and you are ready to create your artwork!

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