Seeing Arrangement and Composition

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Arrangement and composition are the first steps in making a good drawing out of your chosen objects. As you play around and change the combination and arrangement of your chosen objects (feel free to change your mind), take time to look at your choice through one of your viewfinder frames, picking the one that best frames your composition. Turn it horizontally or vertically to match your arrangement and your paper orientation.

Make sure you have chosen your objects, arrangement, composition, paper size, paper orientation, and viewfinder frame so that they all work together. Whew, that's a lot right there, but you can do it! When you've got everything ready, follow these steps:

1. Lightly draw in the horizontal and vertical center lines on your paper.

2. Place the viewfinder frame on the paper and line up the center lines.

3. Extend the diagonals on the viewfinder frame onto the paper.

4. Draw a box that is proportionally equal to the viewfinder frame by measuring, or positioning it on the diagonals at whatever size you wish.

Now you can look at your arrangement through your viewfinder frame and begin to draw it, in the same proportion to the larger box on your paper. You can also look at your composition through a proportionally equal grid on a plastic picture plane to gauge where things are and where to start.

But the main work of positioning the objects in your drawing should be done by really seeing your chosen objects as a small group and then trying to imagine them sitting evenly across the center lines of your paper. You'll want to maintain a constant view, looking at the same spot from the same height. Of course, if you've got to get up, you can draw a line around an object to mark its place for later.

Look again through your viewfinder frame to see where the center lines are. See what shapes are right there in the middle. Lightly sketch the main shapes relative to the center lines.

Remember that objects need to "sit down" where they belong in your drawing. One way to accomplish this is to imagine them in the box they came in. Draw the box in space, and then fit the object into the box. This works for chairs, tables, boats—really, just about anything.

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