Tuesday, 5 June 2018

My Painting Compositions are Off Balance: The Viewfinder Drawing Tool may Help

Looking at the world unedited is overwhelming for the artist. An interesting subject matter may be overlooked with lots of elements vying for attention. Furthermore, the drawing may end up falling off the edge of the page. How can the artist plan the best composition for painting?

A tool called the artist’s viewfinder will make things easier. The viewfinder is a piece of card with a window cut into it, from where the world can be viewed a little at a time. It’s rather like looking through the camera lens prior to taking pictures.

The artist's viewfinder

In a separate article, I have demonstrated how to make your own viewfinder from cheap art materials. Planning the drawing ready for painting is also made easier as the proportions of the ‘window’ are compatible with most sketchbooks. A simple grid to aid drawing is also provided. This will help simplify a seemingly complex subject matter, such as this line drawing of keys, as it is sectioned into quadrants.

The viewfinder makes drawing easier

Once you have made the viewfinder, it’s just a matter of looking around for the best composition for painting.

How to Use the Viewfinder

If you hold the viewfinder so that the window is horizontal, the composition will have a panoramic quality. As can be seen from the image of apples, width of the scene is emphasized. Allowing space on either side of the subject matter might be necessary if interesting elements can be found here.

The viewfinder in landscape mode

Hold the viewfinder in portrait mode and the top and bottom of the composition will be emphasized. As can be seen from the apples, more of the background above and below can be seen. This format might benefit a composition comprising tall buildings or thunderheads.

The viewfinder in portrait mode

Move the viewfinder close to the eye and the image will appear to pan out. Notice how more of the background can be seen around the apples.

Panning out from the subject matter

Move the viewfinder away from the eye and the image will appear to zoom in, cutting out surrounding subject matter, emphasizing the height of the scene. Here, the apples have added emphasis.

The Viewfinder’s Plotting Points

The two pieces of thread affixed across the window in cross formation serve as a drawing aid when plotting key points of the composition. The centre-point can be established as well as what lies within the four quadrants.

This prevents the drawing from falling off the edge of the sketching paper. Deciding the centre-point of the drawing means that the artist knows what element will lie at the centre of the drawing pad and work from there.

As can be seen, the viewfinder can be a useful drawing aid for the artist who doesn’t know where to begin. Taking this useful took with you means that interesting compositions can more easily be found, even in the most everyday places.

Monday, 4 June 2018

How to Make a Viewfinder a Drawing Aid for Artists

Using a viewfinder is a great way of making drawing easier. Composing pictures for oil painting is also made possible when the artist isn’t sure where to begin.

Finding inspiration from life can be overwhelming. What does the artist cut out and leave in? The viewfinder is ideal for editing out unwanted visual information in order to simplify what is seen in front. The viewfinder is simply a piece of card with a window cut in the middle from where the artist may view a particular aspect. Looking through the window is rather like looking through the camera lens before taking a picture.

Plotting your drawing is made easier because the image can be viewed through a frame. Here, I will show you how to create a viewfinder containing a frame that is compatible with most drawing pads. Plotting your drawing couldn’t be made easier.

Making a viewfinder is simple. Here is a step by step demo on making your own.

Demo on Making the Artist’s Viewfinder

The first image shows materials that will be required. These are:
A cutting mat or old magazines on which to cut on.
A piece of card measuring 11 x 8 inches (20 x 28cm).
Scissors, scalpel, a pencil, ruler, double-sided sticky tape and a piece of strong thread.

Materials needed for making a viewfinder

Making your Own Viewfinder

Firstly cut the piece of card in half so that each measures 5.5 x 8 inches (14x20cm). Lightly draw a cross in the centre of each card.

Cut the card in half

Scalpel a rectangular-shaped hole in the middle of each card. The dimensions of the hole should be 2.5 x 3 inches (6 x 7.5 cm). I have worked out these proportions to match standard sketchbook sizes. This will make sketching easier.

Cutting a rectangular hole in the viewfinder

Affix the thread via the tape across the ‘window’ so that it stretches horizontally across. The thread should be midway up the window, splitting it in two. Repeat this process with another piece of thread, this time, stretching it vertically. You should now have a window that appears split into equal quarters, like a cross.

Sticking thread across the viewfinder

This ‘cross’ can be used as plotting points for your drawing when looking through the viewfinder and transferring the image onto your sketchbook.
Now place the other piece of card over the first, sandwiching the sections of thread on the card. Use extra double-sided tape for more strength.
The two pieces of card should now be stuck securely. Trim off excess thread.

Stick the 2 pieces of card together

The viewfinder is ready for use.

Composing the underdrawing for oil painting is now made easier when the artist wishes to sketch from life.

The viewfinder is ready for use

My next article will show you how to use the viewfinder.

The images and text have been taken from my book Draw what You See Not What You Think you See