How to Use a Picture Plane

For a dramatic example, we will begin with that hand of yours. Hands are good models; you don't have to pay them much and they are always available.

1. Place your hand comfortably on a table (keep the Plexiglas and the washable marker at reach). Scrunch, ball, twist, or turn your hand into the hardest position you can imagine (or not imagine) drawing. Find a position with a lot of foreshortening—your fingers coming straight out at you—and imagine trying to get it to look right. You can add a prop, if you'd like, something difficult to draw, like scissors or a corkscrew.

2. Uncap the washable marker.

3. Put the piece of Plexiglas on your posing hand, with or without a prop, and balance everything as best you can.

4. Stay motionless except for your drawing hand.

5. Look through the plastic at your hand. Then look at your hand as you see it on the plastic.

6. Close one eye and carefully draw exactly what you see directly on the plastic. Take your time. Draw each line that you can see of your hand and whatever you are holding.

7. Draw only what you can see on the plastic.

8. Keep going until you have drawn every line you can see.

Shake out that poor modeling hand and take a look at your drawing. A difficult, foreshortened, even contorted, position of your hand and whatever you were holding should be clearly visible on the plastic. You have drawn your hand in drastic foreshortening because you drew only what you could see on the plastic—the picture plane between you and your hand.

A hand drawn on a picture plane.

If you did it once, you can do it again. Try another. Each one will be easier. Fill your piece of Plexiglas with drawings of your hand, or start a new piece. Keep the best one or two, and compare them to the first hand drawings that you did, the drawings of your palm, and the drawing of your hand after you drew your palm. You should see a change!

Hand drawings done on Plexiglas can be placed on a copy machine or scanner for duplication.

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