Art Nook at Home: Drawing Realism, Tips and Tricks 

Are you struggling with proportions and composition in your realistic drawing or painting? Here are some tips and tricks to help you get it right: 

Create a viewfinder: 

  • Viewfinders are a helpful tool when deciding on the composition of your drawing 

What you’ll need: 

  • Paper, cardboard, mat board, or foam core cut into “L” shapes  
  • Paperclips, binder clips, or tape 

How to use it:

  • Overlap the two “L” shapes to create a rectangular shape 
  • Adjust them to the proportions of your page or canvas 
  • Hold the viewfinder toward your subject with your arm fully extended, slowly moving the viewfinder until you decide on composition 

Work from a photo: 

  • Sometimes it can be difficult to draw or paint directly from life. To help practice or for reference when creating a more sustained drawing, taking a photo can help.  
  • When not drawing from life, try to use your own photos as reference for artwork as much as possible 

*Hint: Always make sure your canvas or paper is proportional to the size of the viewfinder or photo you are working with. Using a rectangular photo to draw on a square sheet of paper will make it difficult to draw with correct proportions and placement. 

Use a grid 

  • Using pencil or the computer, draw a grid over the photo you are using. Lightly draw a matching grid on your paper or canvas. 
  • While drawing, look carefully at where objects in the photo sit within the grid lines.