5 techniques for accurate drawings
Artists over the generations have developed a number of techniques for accurately copying images such as our anatomy illustrations. Here are five common techniques that may help with your anatomy studies. Try them out and discuss which ones work best for you.
1) Measuring relative proportions
Use the 'thumb and pencil' method in the Seeing Chapter of our textbook, Basic Figure Drawing Techniques. Measure the relative lengths of each part you are drawing. For example, measure the length from elbow to wrist, then measure the length of the hand. Draw marks to indicate the right length of each section such as upper arm, lower arm, and hand. You can sketch those lengths in as stick figure representations. Now measure the widths of various elements and put light marks for the width, and you can sketch those as geometric shapes. Keep measuring finer details until you have all the relative measures sketched in and refine the shapes to match the illustration or the model.
2) Use a grid
Draw a grid of one-inch squares on clear plastic to look through. Draw a corresponding grid on your paper. If you want to enlarge the image enlarge the squares on your paper. For example, your clear plastic grid may have 1-inch squares but the light squares on your drawing paper may be 2 or 3-inch squares. 2-inch squares would make the finished piece twice as big as the original. What are the benefits of drawing the anatomy studies larger?
3) Draw upside-down
Drawing an inverted image encourages your brain to forget what it thinks it knows and to look carefully. Your picture will be upside down too.
4) Look at the drawing in a mirror
Double-check your accuracy by using a mirror to look at your drawing. Seeing everything flipped around gives you a fresh view of the whole composition and errors become obvious.
5) Draw the negative spaces
Draw the shapes around the objects you are drawing, for example, the shapes between the fingers, and the space between the radius and ulna. Moving your attention between the positive space of your model and the negative space around your model will help with proportions.