Two True Lines That Help You Draw Accurately

Accurate drawing requires finding the same reference points on the subject and the drawing. Holding a pencil vertically and horizontally always gives you two true reference lines to draw from. Here’s how to use them.


Find vertical and horizontal center.

Finding Center
Hold a pencil by its tip so that it dangles loosely to find an accurate vertical line, and hold a pencil horizontally on your fingertips and let it find it’s own balance for a nearly perfect horizontal line.

Duplicate those lines in the middle of your paper.

If possible, find a landmark to draw at the center point. For example, there is a decoration on this mug at about the center point. If you draw that in the right position, it will be much easier to find the center again.

Beginning with vertical and horizontal lines through the center point creates an accurate foundation thats keeps the drawing straight and proportional.

Use For Much More Than Locating Center

Draw negative space and curves.

Draw negative space and curves.

Negative Space And Curves
Use a vertical pencil to help see vertical negative space, or to get a better look at vertical curves.

This works especially well if you’ve blocked-in* the drawing. The vertical sides of the block are a stand in for the pencil. Compare the drawing’s negative space to the model’s negative space. If you draw the negative space correctly, the vertical curve is drawn automatically.

Use to see angles.

Use to see angles.

A straight vertical line is a great way to sight angled lines. If you’re familiar with a protractor, you can take a mental note that the angle is more or less than thus-n-such degrees. Or you can just take a visual note – “that’s as wide as my finger” – if you’re a math-phobe.

Placement guide.

Placement guide.

Our eyes “pretend” things are lined up when they’re not. So, to see off-set placements better, dangle the pencil vertically next to one point and take a look at how far away the other point is.

Horizontal curves can be challenging.

Horizontal curves can be challenging.

A horizontal pencil is especially good for sighting horizontal curves. Most people tend to flatten horizontal curves, so use a pencil to see how much the line actually curves away from true horizontal.

*Blocking In – Draw a box that’s the same height and width as the subject to keep the drawing in proportion.

About Carol

I'm an artist, an accidental author, and lover of life. I grew up in Yorktown, Indiana, and I've been writing (and drawing) this website since 1999.
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4 Responses to Two True Lines That Help You Draw Accurately

  1. Mila says:

    Dear Carol,

    I am grateful for all your tips. They r important and helps to keep our eyes…especially who started to draw like me. I am an amateur artist and I need sometimes person like you next who is not only can criticize but in a friendly way help and lead. Thank you very much for your work. I do not know about others but I feel your tips are very important for me.

  2. Neha says:

    It’s a great learning session of shading & sketching for me …… Keep me updated with other techniques..
    Thanks for your help 😊

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