Isolate a Subject with the Picture Plane

Now you are ready to try one of the drawing devices favored by the old masters. This is an exercise that will help you get the idea of the picture plane in your mind's eye—or is it your eye's mind?

1. Look around the room and decide on a first subject. Don't get too ambitious at first. A corner of a room might be too much; try a table or a chair, or a window at an angle.

2. It is absolutely necessary that you're able to keep the plastic picture plane at your eye level and that it be still. Rest it on a table, or hold it straight up and down at a level that you can see through and draw on at the same time.

Make sure your picture plane is even with your eyes and that it's resting straight up and down at a level you can see your subject through. Prop it up on a book or two if you need to. This is where a longer piece of glass might be handy.

3. Once you have situated yourself and your subject, close one eye and take a good long look through your picture plane, particularly at the parts that would seem hard to draw, either because of angles, complicated shapes, distortion, detail, or perspective. Try to get back to just seeing, but really seeing, and just what you can see, not what you think.

4. See the image through the lines that you put on the picture plane, but try to note where things are relative to the lines:

What part of the image is in the middle?

What part is near the diagonal?

> What part is halfway across?

V On which side of each grid is each part?

V Does a particular line go from top to bottom or across?

V Does a curve start in one box and travel to another before it disappears?

V And then what?

5. Uncap your marker and decide where to start. It should be a shape that you are quite sure of, one you can use to go to the next shape, one you can see your way from to where it connects with another. See where it is relative to your grid of lines.

6. Start to draw your subject, line by line. See how one line goes into another, over or under, curved or straight. The marker line will be somewhat thicker than a pencil and a little wobbly because you are working vertically, but no matter, just draw what you see.

7. Keep going at it at a nice easy pace, concentrating but not rushed. You should be having fun now. Are you?

When you have put in all that you see in your object, take a moment and observe the accuracy with which you have drawn a complicated drawing. Try to see where the plastic picture plane made it easy for you to draw a difficult part, like a table in perspective, or the scale of two objects, or the detail on the side of a box, or the pattern of a fabric that was in folds.

These potential problems are no longer problems, once you really see and really draw what you see.

Do you like your drawing? Would you like to keep it? How about transferring it to a piece of paper?

Here are some sample drawings done on Plexiglas picture planes.

If all this holding still and seeing through seems like a lot of requirements, think about those poor old masters lugging a much more cumbersome glass version of a picture-plane drawing device out into the fields. Then you will be happy that you have a nice table to work at—and presumably a nice cup of hot coffee, thought by many to be an essential.

Back to the Drawing Board

If all this holding still and seeing through seems like a lot of requirements, think about those poor old masters lugging a much more cumbersome glass version of a picture-plane drawing device out into the fields. Then you will be happy that you have a nice table to work at—and presumably a nice cup of hot coffee, thought by many to be an essential.

Pencil Drawing Beginners Guide

Pencil Drawing Beginners Guide

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