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Realistic drawing made simple: 3 helpful methods to improve your skills

Realistisches Zeichnen

The art of realistic drawing has developed various techniques and approaches over the centuries. Among the many methods that artists use to create their works, Sight Size, Constructive Drawing and Comparative Drawing are three notable approaches. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and in this blog post we'll take an in-depth look at the differences between Sight Size, Comparative Drawing and Constructive Drawing.

1. What is the Sight Size Method?

The sight-size method is a proven technique for transferring the exact proportions of a motif when drawing or painting. By focusing on specific steps and measurements, you can ensure that heights and widths are accurately reproduced. The basic steps of the sight-size method are summarized here:

Sight Size

Alignment of the drawing board:

Make sure that your drawing board is level. A stable and straight work surface is crucial to enable a correct perception of proportions.

Positioning and line of sight:

Positioniere dich so, dass du das Motiv in einem passenden Format auf dem Papier siehst. Es ist wichtig, dass du dich frontal zu deinem Zeichenbrett befindest und deine Körpermitte sich zwischen dem Motiv und dem Brett befindet. Markiere deine Position mit Klebeband, um die Konsistenz während des gesamten Prozesses zu gewährleisten.

Vertical reference line:

Find a central vertical line through your subject. This line serves as a reference point for the height and width measurements. It should run from top to bottom through the subject, capturing the main elements.

Measurement of the heights:

To determine the most important heights of the motif, stretch your arms out in front of you and close one eye. Use a plumbline, wooden skewers, knitting needles or similar thin, stable objects or another measuring instrument to mark the intersections of the heights with the vertical reference line. Start with the highest and lowest points of the motif and then work your way through the heights in order of importance. Repeat the measurements several times to check their accuracy.

Measurement of the widths:

The widths of the subject are also measured using the central vertical line. Take the same position as when measuring the heights and determine the distance between the desired point and the central line. Transfer this width to your paper by holding the measuring instrument over the paper and overlapping one side with the vertical line. Start with the widest point of the motif and work your way through the widths in order of importance. Again, check the measurements several times to make sure the proportions are correct.

Control and review:

It is essential to check the heights and widths several times to ensure that the proportions are accurate. Compare the measurements with the highest and lowest points as well as the widest point of the motif. This repeated checking will allow you to identify and correct any errors before you start the actual painting.


2. What is the comparative method for realistic drawing?

Comparative drawing, refers to the process of comparing different parts of the subject to determine their proportions and positions in relation to each other. The artist uses reference points or guide lines to determine the correct proportions. This method is well suited to the depiction of complex scenes or figures where the precise perception of relative sizes and positions is crucial.

Observation and selection of comparison elements:

Start by carefully observing your subject or object. Identify the key elements or features that will serve as a standard of comparison. Choose clear and measurable elements, such as the length of a stem in relation to the height of a flower.

Sketching the basic shapes:

Start by sketching the basic shapes of your motif. Make sure that the proportions of these basic shapes are correct. Use light lines or guide lines to mark the positions and distances of the comparison elements.

Defining a benchmark:

Select a specific part of your motif to serve as a scale for the remaining elements. For example, this scale could be the length of a particular leaf in a plant motif. Then compare the other elements with this scale and make sure that their proportions are correct.

Using reference points:

Use reference points to show the proportions precisely. Reference points can be, for example, the distance between the eyes and ears of a face or the position of a branch in relation to the leaves of a tree. Concentrate on how these reference points relate to each other and transfer these relationships to your drawing.

Multiple checks:

Check your drawing regularly to ensure that the proportions are correct. Compare the different elements with each other and with your previous measurements. Check that the distances and proportions between the comparison elements are consistent.

Make adjustments:

If you notice that the proportions are not displayed correctly, make the appropriate adjustments. Correct the lines and proportions to achieve a more accurate representation. Be patient and willing to make adjustments until you are satisfied with the result.

Constructive Methode

3. What is the constructive method?

The Constructive Drawing method focuses on emphasizing the basic structure and geometric shapes of a motif. The artist carefully analyzes the motif and breaks it down into simpler forms in order to reduce the complexity. As the drawing progresses, the forms are gradually expanded and refined. This approach emphasizes the relationship between the different elements of the motif and makes it possible to correctly represent spatial depth and volume. However, it should be noted that this method may not be suitable for beginners, especially when drawing nudes, as a basic knowledge of anatomy is required to understand the realization of body parts such as arms or legs.

Observation and analysis of the motif:

Start by observing the subject or object closely and identifying the basic shapes and structures. Look for geometric shapes such as squares, circles or rectangles that could be included in the motif. Analyze the relationships between the shapes and how they relate to each other.

Constructing the basic shapes:

Use basic lines and simple geometric shapes to define the basic proportions and positions of the motif. Draw light lines to mark the orientation and position of the various elements. You can also use guidelines to take into account the perspective and depth of the motif.

Use of construction lines:

Add construction lines to the basic shapes to show the structure and details of the motif more precisely. These lines serve as guides to determine the placement of facial features, limbs or other complex elements. Focus on how the lines relate to each other and how they define the shapes.

Step-by-step construction:

Build up the motif step by step by combining the different shapes and structures. Start with the basic shapes and then work your way up to the more complex details. Make sure that the proportions and positions of the elements remain consistent throughout the process.

Regular review:

Check your drawing regularly to ensure that the proportions and positions are correct. Compare the various elements with each other and with your previous designs. If necessary, correct the lines and proportions to achieve a more precise representation.

Refinement of the details:

Once the basic shapes and structures have been defined, you can concentrate on refining the details. Add shading, textures and other finer lines to make the motif appear more realistic. Be patient and take your time to work out the details carefully.


It is important to note that Sight Size, Comparative Drawing and Constructive Drawing are not strictly separate methods, but rather different approaches that can be combined depending on the artist's preferences and the requirements of the subject.


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