How to Draw From Reference Accurately

Having trouble accurately drawing your references? It’s not just you. Plenty of beginners, and even advanced artists struggle with accurately copying what they see. In this article I will show you how you can draw from reference using boxes!

Why boxes? You see, everything has a height and width. In order to get an accurate drawing, we first have to get the height and width of what we are drawing down. Negative and positive shapes, plumb line alignment, angles, all that can come later. What is most important is getting the height and the width of the object first. Once you have that down, everything else falls into place.

Well how do you accurately get the height and width of an object? You do this by visually measuring.
You can do this with any number of tools, from a ruler, to calipers, to your pencil. The most simple one is by using your pencil. You do this by stretching out your arm straight while holding your pencil, tilting your head towards the shoulder which holds your pencil, and closing one eye. You measure by looking at the tip of your thumb to the tip of your pencil.

Once you have your measuring method down, you can now measure the height of the object, and then compare it to the width. Once done, draw the box that is made by measuring. If you look at the example below, you can see that when the width is rotated 90 degrees, it is almost as long as the length. We can take this information and put it in our own drawing of a box, just like the example below. I simply copy pasted the box here, and you can do that too. But it is recommended that you measure and draw the box yourself. Either by eyeballing it, or observing the fraction that is formed.

Once you have drawn your box, you can now start drawing the positive and negative shapes that have formed. You can also use plumb lines to observe alignment (plumb lines are straight lines that show alignment of shapes). You can even further breakdown the object by making smaller boxes of each finger.

Here are some visual measuring techniques for you to use: