grid method drawing

grid-drawing art1-enlarging-a-picture-with-a-grid-4-638

The grid method is very simple and easy to draw an image on a paper with exact proportion. The grid method is used to reproduce and/or enlarge an image that you want to draw. This method can sometime be a fairly time-consuming process that will depend on the image type. Typically, to draw a human portrait using grid method takes about 15-30 minutes; yes you read it right 15-30 minutes!! Then comes the shading part where you want your drawing to be realistic; this takes quite a time. But we will get there as we go along, and believe me you will up and sketching the portrait in now time.

If you are a beginner in portrait drawing, grid method is the best method. It helps you to improve your drawing and observation skills. And when you have gained lots of confidence in drawing using grid method, you can stop using grid and start drawing free-hand!! Believe me after 10 drawings using grid method; you will have better confidence in free-hand drawing.

So What is Grid Drawing!!

As the name says, this method involves drawing a grid over the reference photo and the same ratio grid on the blank paper; then replicating the photo on a paper focusing on box at a time, until the entire image has been transferred.

Once you are finished, you can simply erase the grid lines. Now you will have perfect proportion drawing. Then start working on shading and detailing for realistic portrait.

Materials Required:

  1. Ruler
  2. Copy of reference image
  3. Blank drawing paper
  4. Pencil

It is best to use mechanical pencil to draw grid lines on the paper, because it gives thin and precise line. A 2H pencil is also best to use. Be sure to draw the grid lines lightly to erase it easily when drawing is finished.

The most important is grid. You can choose fine grid with more boxes or coarse grid with fewer boxes, depending on the size and complexity of the image.

Attention!! Make sure the grid on your work paper will have same number of lines in the same ratio as it is on the reference image; otherwise the drawing will get distorted!!

Now pick your image and Let’s try it in 9 easy steps!!


Step 1 >> Draw Grids on the Reference Image


Step 2>> Draw the Outline of Eyebrow

You can start the outlines from anywhere, however it best to start from eyebrow or eye. Go slow while outlining and focus on one box at a time. You can use 2B pencil or mechanical pencil.


Step 3 >> Draw the Outline of the Eyes

Keep on going with the outlines focusing one box at a time. Evaluate your drawing with the reference, make corrections if required.


Step 4 >> Draw the Outline of the Nose

When you are finished with the eyes, next draw the outlines of the nose. Do not worry about the overall identity of the drawing, if you outlining correctly as per the grids of the reference image, ultimately it will show the drawing same as the image.


Step 5 >> Draw the Outline of the Lips

Again focus on the grids of reference image for lips and replicate it by outlining in the same grid of your drawing paper. Remember; One box at a time.


Step 6 >> Draw the Outlines for Face

Now start outlining the shape of face. Process is same, focus on grid of reference image and one box at a time.


Step 7 >> Draw the outlines for Hair

There is no need to be afraid of curves of hair. Follow the same process to replicate the grids. One box at a time.




Step 8 >> Draw the Outline of the ear

Same process 🙂 One box at a time. Its easy and you are almost done. You can now see your drawing matching with the reference image. Amazing!!


Step 9 >> Erase the grid lines

Now that your drawing is complete you can erase the grid lines and see for yourself the results of this grid method. At this stage your drawing should look like matching with the reference image. Whoa !!


Having completed the drawing to this extent, now remains only shading and adding tones to best reveal the facial features and make the drawing a realistic portrait.

With a bit more practice using the grid method, you can decrease the number of grid lines. This means you will be able to draw with fewer grids, and ultimately free-hand without grids. Professional artists also use grid method when they need to complete the sketch fast but most of the time they use few reference points for eyes, nose, lips and head shape.

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I hope this section has provided an useful insight on human body proportions. For suggestions, questions, feedback; write in the comment box below. I would be happy to receive your comments.

Happy Drawing 🙂