Biggest Tip that Will Improve Your Drawing!

Portrait of Young Women by the artist Kevin McCain

Horizontal and Vertical Relationships 

When we start to draw many times we are so focused on the object’s smaller pieces and details and we miss the larger picture. Then our drawing pays the price. Whenever you draw or even paint at least half of the drawing or painting is double, and triple-checking the basic relationships of objects. One of the greatest tools in the artist’s arsenal is the use of “Horizontal and Vertical” relationships!

This is a portrait that I drew and I decided it would be good to break it down into the horizontal and vertical alignments to show how those helped create a better drawing of this person. Let’s get started!

1. The Person that I Drew

young woman I am drawing

Many times when we are drawing something especially complex like a portrait we can get overwhelmed. When this happens, it’s always best to simplify any object we are drawing by using measuring and construction techniques to take the guesswork out of it. Horizontal and Vertical alignments are just another step to this process. Using a pencil use level lines(horizontal) and plumb(vertical) lines to check what is in line with something else or where they are in relationship to the entire shape. In this case, that shape is the head or egg-like shape. The next picture shows these vertical and horizontal alignments imposed over the photo of the model.

2. The Alignments I Used

This shows all the alignments I was watching or recording while I was drawing. This was in addition to measurements and head construction. Without the measurements the alignments are worth very much so here is the process I used.  I would start with the basic head construction using a modified Loomis method or a modified egg shape. Then I would mark the basic eye, nose, and mouth lines measuring those for the person’s likeness. I then laid out the 3 eye spaces, since this is a 3/4 view I use the 3 spaces of the eyes and nose space and then use those eye spaces to measure the rest of the head. Then I use the alignments to check the drawing to make sure that everything is in the right place. Such as normally the cheekbone is in front of the brow but on her the brow is further out. Usually the ear is above the nose line but on her the ear is below the nose line. The chin aligns with the right side of the nose (my right not hers), The neck starts at the about where the left corner of the mouth is, this is where this technique shows it’s strength it helps you be more aware of where stuff is base on the location of other stuff.

*3. Extra Tip*

picture showing a middle line drawn down the model's face

Because this is a 3/4 view it’s super important to find the middle line of the face to check for symmetry. This shows a line running down the middle of her face I always draw this line in when doing portraits. It really helps!

4. The finished Drawing

Portrait of Young Women by the artist Kevin McCain

I hope when you are drawing you will start to look more at the vertical and horizontal alignments or relationships. It will help your drawing immensely. Give it a shot!

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