Although proportion is related to design, it is a tangible quality which can be measured and confirmed. But there is more to the "creation" of proportion than simple measurement. Actual proportion can be measured with certainty, while creative proportion must be accomplished by individual experiment and taste.
Proportion is usually measured by the simple use of a graph in one form or another. We "scale" proportions one to another as they fall within the graph. Whether the method is simple measurement by eye, or the use of a scaled elevation, as in architectural and mechanical drawing, the same principle is involved.
In measuring three dimensional forms, we must consider all sides as flat design and then assemble the measurement. A house can be built from flat designs of the floor plan, basement, and roof, coupled with flat designs of the sides or elevations. Perhaps it has not occurred to the artist that he draws in exactly the same way. While he introduces the third dimension by the use of perspective, he is really making a flat drawing of a silhouette as his eye sees it.
To get a drawing in proportion, the artist must establish the middle points of the horizontal and vertical lines and consider the height of the subject in proportion to the width. By outlining the boundaries of his picture and then by dividing the height at the middle with a horizontal line and the width by a similar vertical line, he divides the picture into four quarters. After this he can go on to reducc the object to eighths and smaller fractions to help him reproduce the whole object in proportionate scale.
With a graph laid over oi held in front of an object we get the proportionate relationships of all the parts. A graph may be laid out on a piece of glass and used as a finder, to arrive at proportions, or the ordinary type of finder itself may be made to serve a double purpose by gluing threads across the opening at the middle and quarter points of the open rectangle.
F.asicst of all, the eye may be trained to find the middle point within any set of contours by looking along a straight edge and marking it. Thus the width can be compared to the height and the middle points of both made to coincide. Some artists measure with the thumbnail held over a brush handle; others make an open square with the fingers, or a rectangle that will fit around the desired contours, and judge the relation of width to height in this manner.
It is fairly easy to visualize a square, and buildings may be visually measured by noting how many squares would fit into the area, or what portion of a square would be required to fit around it.
Another very good method of proportioning is to draw the object the same size you see it, by sighting horizontal lines to the side of the board to take in the height, and vertical lines to the top of the board to take in the width. (Sec Diagram.)
All these methods are simply a means of arriving at contours. When these are blocked in, w must look carefully again for structure. We start
"SEEING BY SQUARES"
FINDING PROPORTION A square piccc of glass ruled in squares with a grease pencil (or eyebrow pencil) is a useful instrument for determining the proportions of a landscape or object. View your subject through the glass—with one eye—and note where the divisions (sec dots in center drawing) fall. Spaces between the contours are as important as the contours themselves. As you train your eyes this device will become unnecessary; meanwhile it oilers a way of learning to see contours and shapes in relation to one another and to the whole. With this glass you can also check your finished drawing with the actual subject before you.
Also try to learn to see all parts without using a glass. Imagine squares surrounding the main objects of details of the design.
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