Drawing Templates Can Save Your Sanity
(And using them is not an art crime.)
Have you ever had a hard time drawing matching curves that face each other, like two sides of a vase? A French curve could have saved you a ton of work. Just draw one side, find that curve on the French curve, flip it over and use it to draw the other side or to help you see where you're going wrong. Have a hard time drawing parallel lines? Straight edges to the rescue! I have a thin metal erasing shield that has small cutouts that include long lines that I call on to help me draw, or erase, perfect parallel lines. I also keep a simple index card in my toolbox. It's lightweight, easy to hold down and draw around, and has straight edges and four lovely corners.
You can find collections of plastic stencils with great shapes like arrows, Celtic knots, hearts, flowers, ribbons, and etc, in the stationary department of most stores. You probably won't find a use for a stenciled shooting star, but you could very well find a use for part of that shape sometime, so these inexpensive stencils make great additions to your drawing supply collection.
Drafting templates are a little harder to find, but not impossible. The drafting departments of office supply stores usually have selections of ovals, circles, parallelograms, French curves, and the erasing shields I mentioned.
If I've convinced you that you need a French curve, try to find a set that has shapes in their interior, too, and you'll get more template action for your money!
If you have an extremely convoluted curve that you need to reproduce, you might consider a Flex Curve. It's lead filled rubber that bends to nearly any shape and stays put, plus it's a drafting tool and has a flat edge for drawing around. It's very accurate, too. The best description I can think of for it is a "bend-able" ruler.
For The Guilt Ridden
Using a template is not cheating, so please don't go there. Templates are tools, just as your pencil and eraser are tools. There are some things that the human hand simply cannot draw as well as we would like, and a perfect geometric shape is one of them! Machines have us beat when it comes to geometric precision.
If you're overwhelmed with guilt even thinking about using a drawing "aid" in anyway, I'd advise you to take a look at your ideas about what art is. Your art does not reside in your tools! It lives in your head and your heart, and it simply does not matter how you bring it into the world.
So, if you're template phobic, please lighten up on yourself, buy the template you need, and finish that drawing that's been waiting for the perfect curve to be drawn. Your art will thank you if you do.
Here are more drawing gadgets that you might love.
These images were kindly provided by Dick Blick.