Comparative Measurement

We're going to be going over the different ways we can measure to make sure our drawings are accurate in proportion even though they are much bigger or smaller than real life. A majority of these methods require a tool (typically your drawing tool is plenty sufficient) but with practice can be internalized and become sensed intuitively. 


Portion measuring

This is known by many artists as the infamous pencil on thumb technique. It's basic but it reliable. The idea behind this is if we can use an arbitrary unit for a measurement, we can take a portion of it (say half, or a third) and recreate that in our drawing. The method works reliably either vertically or horizontally.


  1. Find our arbitrary measurement point. Typically you'll want to use something obvious and appropriate for the thing you want to measure.
  2. Find the portion of the point you are trying to measure. Example, the door know is half way down the door.
  3. Take a mental note of the proportion.
  4. Find the arbitrary measurement again but this time on your drawing
  5. Find the portion within the drawing

"Plumb Line"

The purpose of this technique is to find if a point lines up vertically or horizontally with another known point. 


  1. Decide a point that you'd like to check and your reference point (which should already exist on your drawing)
  2. Look at your reference or subject and hold your pencil out locked vertically or horizontally lined up with your reference point
  3. Determine where the point falls on the subject you're trying to check
  4. Take a mental note
  5. Repeat steps 1 and 2 on your drawing
  6. Make a mark and create a new mental note.