Which method is “better”? The Answer is yes. ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ This newsletter is about drawing. It goes out every Friday. Want to draw? Then check out my free workbook!

#139 - While Drawing Should I Measure And Construct Accurately, Or Should I Freehand-Draw?

Which method is “better”? The Answer is yes.

Drawing Demo

demonstration of how to draw using preliminary studies

Drawing demonstration: imagining what an inanimate object might look like from different angles.

Demo: Fun With Hats

Someone asked an interesting question on my Instagram recently: is it better to freehand-draw than to use the grid method to learn? If you have questions you would like me to answer, don’t hesitate to contact me!

I want to broaden the question to whether you should freehand draw or measure so I can discuss the relative merits of both.

Freehand drawing allows you to discover, explore, understand, and play with form and shape, exaggerate, experiment, and find a way to express what you want to say about what you’re drawing.

You can try to deviate from the reference! Exaggerate, emphasize. Leave out. Say something about the thing you’re drawing. This is much easier to do when freehand drawing and much harder to do when you measure by, for example, using the grid method, which makes you tied to the reference. But sometimes, you want to precisely follow the reference image when you feel the reference is a perfect design.

Measuring is about copying something exactly. You may hold a pencil in front of you at arm’s length, thumb at a spot, to measure a size or an angle to copy it perfectly onto your paper. Or use the grid method to make a perfect copy of an image onto a paper.

So, which one is better?

The truth is, both are just tools and valuable to have in your tool chest.

They also combine very well. For example, when you do model drawing class, you can observe, measure, and then draw, but I always find that a missed opportunity. You can also observe, freehand-draw, measure, and correct. This way, you discover what you do wrong by default, and you can correct it. For example, I tend to draw lower legs too short, but because I know this, I know to pay attention to this when drawing lower legs.

Freehand drawing combined with measuring afterward to correct can help improve your skills by showing you where you do things consistently wrong.

Another great way to combine freehand with measurement is to do many exploratory freehand design sketches until you find the one you like most. Then, you can use the grid method to copy that perfect design onto a larger sheet of paper to turn it into a finished piece because it is suitable for making an accurate copy.

You can do this with perspective drawing (which is about measurement), too: first do a freehand drawing, then figure out the best perspective (horizon, vanishing points) and correct the freehand drawing using perspective lines.

Freehand and measuring are tools. When to use them depends on what you want to achieve. Freehand is perfect for exploring, learning, expressing, designing, and measuring, which helps gain technical accuracy, and these tools can be used well together.

Lastly, I enjoy the process of freehand drawing much more, but this may be the other way around for you. I do enjoy informally correcting drawings after measuring.

The answer to whether you should do freehand drawing or measurements is yes. Do both.

Let me know if there are questions you would like me to answer or subjects you would like to learn to draw!

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