Now it’s time to turn the set-up into a 2-D drawing. Using the same view-finder that I used to compose the picture, I note where the edges of the composition are and mark them with white tape directly onto the set-up . Now when I view the set-up through the view-finder, I can more easily line it up correctly (you can see this tape on the wall in the last photo.). You can see below that I’ve divided all of the edges of my view-finder opening into halves, thirds, quarters, etc. I draw this same grid onto my paper. Now I use the view-finder to locate points in the set-up, using a skinny knitting needle. If I find, for example, that the top of the orange crate lines up with the 1/3 horizontal mark, I know to place this line in the corresponding place on my drawing.
This method isn’t exact- your hand shakes, your head isn’t in the exact same position every time you measure, etc. You might have to measure several times and take the average. It’s a great way to get started drawing, though, in that it assures you that objects are mostly in the correct position in the frame and are proportioned correctly.
Another measuring device I use is two knitting needles held in front of my eyes in a cross. Using my thumbs to mark off the distances, I can note the height and width of an object, and then without moving them in relationship to each other, hold them up to my drawing at the correct distance to check that the proportions of the object in my drawing are the same. I can also hold a ruler up to measure and compare the lengths of different objects. I might find, for example, that the box is twice the length of the bracelet. These checks are very helpful. In the end, though, you need to put aside all measuring tools and just look at the set-up and the drawing to see if the drawing is correct. Sometimes I find that even after much measuring, the object still looks wrong. Measuring can be misleading, but the un-aided eye is always right! See Drawing Again for more on these techniques.
Once the bigger shapes are in place, I begin to draw the details. The beads that are seen straight-on I measure to be the same length. For the foreshortened ones, I just have to eye-ball it. Everything is placed very intentionally now. I make many small decisions now. The exact placement of the edge of a bead; the angle of a cord, and if it echoes the angle of another cord; where exactly the bend of a lamp leg intersects the edge of the fold of the scarf are all chosen by me to further my design. Though it often happens in setting up a composition, that a fold or the placement of a bead happens by accident, it’s up to me as as artist to judge if these accidental placements are worth keeping or need to be changed. Everything is chosen!
Above, I’ve indicated the basic shape of the lamp. It was hard to draw this, because it isn’t a symmetrical object. It’s hand-made and the edges are not parallel. If I drew it symmetrically, I’d take away its personality.
The small dot of white tape in the picture above is my vanishing point. All receding lines perpendicular to the picture plane will seem to converge to this point. It is the point directly in front of my eyes at my eye-level. I mark the same point on my drawing paper. When I draw the receding edge of the vertical box on the far left, I simply use a straight-edge and draw the line from the vanishing point to the front of the box. It’s simple!
My next step will be to draw the main shapes of the scarf. Not until I’m sure that everything is right will I draw the pattern on the scarf. There’s no point in doing that until all is correct.