Lesson 6: Using The Grid Method

A Legit training method to improve your drawing and observational skills

What is the Grid Method?

As I mentioned in Lesson 3 and Lesson 5, I don't recommend tracing art because tracing just gives you an instant satisfaction and teaches you much less in a long term.

But I often get asked for a good advise to draw the accurate shape by some of the students who have absolutely no idea how to start. Let's start with that :)

The grid method is an easy way to reproduce or enlarge an image that you want to draw, and it helps to improve your drawing and observational skills.

This dates back to the ancient Egyptians and has been used for centuries by many master artists such as Leonardo da Vinci as a tool to creating correct proportions.

This is actually a developed version of one of some basic measuring techniques most of fine art students learn when they sketch a object. They often use clear art grids or measuring stick for sketch to understand the form/angles and checking layout when drawing a subject in front of you —such as a person, static object or scene.

You can use this method by drawing a grid (or using an app) over your reference photo, and then drawing a grid of equal ratio on a paper. You draw the image while looking at one square at a time, until the entire image has been transferred. Now, you can have a great rough sketch that is in perfect proportion.

To use the grid method, you need to have a ruler if you have a paper copy of your reference image, or use a phone app such as Drawing Grid Maker if you draw from a photo in your phone.

Make sure you make the grid lines as light as possible as same as your pencil sketch so that they are easy to erase when you finish drawing.

The important thing is that the grids must be 1:1 perfect square ratio. You can make them rectangular like the clear scale above if you can draw them in the exact same ratio, but it will be simply much easier if you make all of them perfect square.

It might sound a bit complicated, but it's quite simple once you try. Let's see the grid method in a video, and you can easily adopt it to your drawings!

Below is a great video that shows every step of the grid method.


Numbers of grids does matter! You can start with 16 grids (4 x 4), but the accuracy of proportion would be higher as you make the grids smaller.

When you are transferring the image, only pay attention to one block at a time. Try as much as you can to copy exactly what you see in that little square in the reference image to the corresponding square on your paper. Simply, focus on getting the placement of each line just right and do the same over and over until you get the entire image.