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6: Sighting

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    Sighting is a useful technique when drawing from life. It helps to draw objects in proper proportions.


    Sighting involves comparing the angles and axes of viewed objects with those of your drawing


    Sighting involves translating the 3-D world onto a 2-D surface with accuracy and confidence.

    Note the incorrect positioning of the easel to the artist.


    The pencil is used to capture angles of objects to be drawn and also, by using the thumb, to measure (Unit of Measure Technique).


    If you hold out your pencil and capture the angle of an object, you can move your arm carefully, maintaining the same angle and, while holding the pencil over your paper, draw in the angle as a light line.


    Sighting helps when drawing objects in proper perspective and proportion.

    You can build upon what you draw, step by step, by seeing the relationships from one form to the next (especially if they overlap).

    Also, the negative spaces should be observed and used for accuracy.


    If you check all of the angles of the object you’re drawing with your actual drawing and they match, then the proportions will be correct!


    Another helpful technique is to use the hands of a clock to help establish the correct angles when viewing 3-D forms from life. Move the pencil to your paper and maintain the same clock time (angle) and draw a light line.

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    Even after you draw, go back and compare the “clock angles” with the angles in your drawing. If they do not match, then the proportions of the form(s) may be off.


    Unit of Measure is another helpful technique to draw in accurate proportions. When drawing the body, the head becomes the unit upon which the body is measured.


    In this instance, the head of the lion is used as the Unit of Measure. The length of the big cat is six head lengths long. When drawing on the paper, the artist will also make it six head lengths.


    Step One:

    Measure “the unit.”


    Step 2:

    Use that “unit” to then measure other forms (parts) within the composition. Use the same measurements in your drawing.


    When drawing a still life, a smaller object in the Visual Field is chosen to be the Unit of Measure (the unit upon which the other objects sized are calculated).


    The Unit of Measure is used to then draw the other objects as they relate to your established “unit.” In this case, the smaller apple is the unit. The apple in the foreground is larger and drawn in that way.


    When drawing a still life, a smaller object in the Visual Field is chosen to be the Unit of Measure (the unit upon which the other objects sized are calculated).


    When sighting, you begin by holding your pencil out to determine angles and axes of the forms (the big picture) and then use the Unit of Measure technique to draw proper proportions.


    Here an apple is used as the Unit of Measure to determine the height of the bottle. This would first be observed viewing the objects from life and then adapted to the drawing.


    When drawing the body, the head becomes the unit upon which the body is measured.


    When drawing the face, the eye becomes a unit of measure. Angles carefully observed also help in drawing correct facial proportions.


    A viewfinder is a helpful tool for beginning artists to determine the composition and placement of objects in the rectangular Visual Field.


    You can buy or make a viewfinder.


    You can also use your fingers to form a rectangular window through which you view the world. This becomes a simple viewfinder!


    Viewfinders can be simple of have clear plastic sectioned into halves, quarters or even more sections.


    6: Sighting is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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