A viewfinder can be as simple as your two hands held up to make a frame. Through your hands, you see only what is framed by them.
You can make a simple viewfinder using only your hands.
A viewfinder frame is a "window" through which you see an image and can relate the angles, lines, shapes, and parts to the measuring marks on the frame and to each other. It is as simple as using your two hands to frame a view or making a cardboard frame.
If you want to use more than just your hands, but don't feel like leaving home to buy anything, you can make a simple viewfinder frame with two L-shaped pieces of mat board, shirt cardboard, or even from the sides of a cardboard box.
To make any viewfinder frame, you will need
A ruler, preferably metal that you can cut against. A mat knife or utility knife. You can use scissors but you will get a better edge with a knife and you will use it constantly as time goes on.
Got your materials? Okay. Just follow these simple steps to make your viewfinder frame:
1. Cut pieces of mat board or cardboard into a few sizes for different sized windows (10" x 13" for a 6" x 9" window, 12" x 14" for an 8" x 10" window, 13" x 16" for a 9" x 12" window, etc). These are standard proportions, but you can also cut a longer one (8" x 14" for a 4" x 10" window, or 10" x 16" for a 6" x 12" window, for example), if you'd like.
2. Measure and draw the diagonals and the center lines as you did on the plastic picture planes.
3. Measure and cut framing windows in the cardboard, leaving 2" on all sides.
Now we've cut a window in our board.
4. You can choose which proportion frame to use for each drawing. What you see through the frame will vary according to how close or far away you are from the object/view.
Keeping your viewfinder frame and your work in proportion is easy. Diagonals drawn across a rectangle will extend in proportion out to larger but proportionally equal rectangles.
Here's a rectangle with a diagonal that extends out into larger rectangles.
5. Measure and then lightly draw the center lines on your piece of paper (for 11" x 14", they will be at S1/." and 7").
6. Line up the center lines of your viewfinder frame with the center line of your piece of paper.
7. Use a long ruler to extend the diagonal lines of the viewfinder frame out onto your paper.
Diagonal lines from the viewfinder frame extended out onto the piece of paper.
Proportion is the comparative relation between things; in a rectangle, for example, it's the comparative ratio between the height and width. Rectangles of different sizes that are in proportion share the same ratio in their height and width.
8. Starting from any corner, anywhere along the diagonal, you can now draw a rectangle that is larger than the viewfinder frame but in proportion to it, whatever the proportion of the paper. Just make sure that all your lines are square.
Another way to create diagonals is to put the viewfinder frame in the corner of a piece of paper and draw one diagonal out from that corner. Rectangles drawn from that diagonal will be in proportion to the original (the viewfinder frame). You can use this method to decide on the best-sized piece of paper you want to use for a particular drawing after you have selected the viewfinder frame.
Eventually, you won't need to draw a box unless you find that you like to draw in them.
Extending the diagonal from your viewfinder frame will show you whether the viewfinder frame and the piece of paper are in proportion or not. Understanding proportion is worth the time.
The Art of Drawing
You can fasten the pieces of cardboard of your viewfinder frame together with paper clips or brass fasteners in any size or proportion and turn the frame horizontally or vertically. That way, it will break down and pack easily for outings, which will be handy later. Having a few viewfinder frames on hand allows you to see the relative differences in proportion and helps in deciding which works best for a particular image or for a particular paper format.
A simple viewfinder frame can be made by fastening two L-shaped sections of cardboard together with paper clips.
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