Gridding Up

Skill Name: Gridding Up

Gridding up

One way of transposing images from one piece of paper to another without the use of a computer is to use the grid method. It's simple and can be used by people with varying levels of drawing ability while still yielding great results. Gridding up can be done both to measure 2d images and transfer them onto another surface, but also to draw from life. 

- Ruler
- Pencils
- Reference Photo / image to copy

-  Drawing Paper
- Tracing paper (optional)

A studio space preferably with a table or desk.


1) If gridding up from another 2d image, first pick your image. If you're using this method for the first time or you don't have a lot of drawing experience, choosing a simple image.

2) Choose your drawing paper. It should be scaled to the size of your reference photo or image to copy. This would be using a 1:1 scale, meaning that the reference image and the final product will be the same size. However, depending on the size of your image, you may need to scale the size of your drawing up or down accordingly. For example, if you have an image that's 8.5" x 11" (21.4cm x 28cm). To scale the drawing size up 2x, the paper should be 17" X 22" (43cm x 56cm). To scale the drawing size down 0.5x, the drawing paper should be 4.25" x 5.5" (10.7cm x 14cm).

3) Mark the edges of the reference picture at equal intervals. You can do this either directly on the reference photo / image, or on tracing paper laid over the reference photo / image. 2.5cm is a good size for intervals to use if drawing from a reference photo / image that is around a4 size, however your intervals may have to be slightly larger or smaller depending on the size of your paper. In the end, you should make sure to have equally spaced marks along the edges of your paper.

4) Connect the opposing marks with a ruler. These connected lines will form a grid pattern, hence the name 'Grid Method'.

5) Make the same grid pattern on your drawing paper. Mark the edges at equal intervals and connect them using a ruler to create a grid as you did with the original image. However, make sure to only draw the markings and grid lines lightly so that you can erase them later on. In the end, you should have something similar to the image provided.

6) Number each box on both your reference picture  or tracing paper and drawing paper. This will enable you to easily keep track of which box on the original image corresponds with which box on your drawing paper. Start with the top left corner and work down from there, creating what will look like a calendar. Again, remember to press lightly with your pencil on your drawing paper so that you can easily erase the numbers at the end.

7) Begin drawing. Look at a box on your reference picture and re-create what's inside of it in the corresponding box on your drawing paper. You can begin in whichever box you'd like, but it's helpful to start with the boxes that include the general outline of your image in order to make sure that it will all connect properly. Make sure to use a pencil so that you can easily make adjustments to your drawing.

8) Add the details. Once you have the outline complete, you can begin to add in smaller details such as eyes, noses, mouths, etc. You don't have to include all of the details that your reference image does - it's up to you to decide how detailed you'd like your picture to be.

TUTORIAL: James Otto Allen

BIBLIOGRAPHY: WikiHowHow To Draw Journey

In Context

In the boxes below you'll find a list of 'Works' and 'Creators' who used this knowledge / skill.

For classes on basic gridding up, visit JJ Arts London

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