Drawing – Scaling up an image using a grid

by Feb 22, 2021Art Supplies, Shop News

Using a grid to scale up a drawing

Today Jane tells us about a drawing technique which some people swear by. Using a grid to scale up an image. She talks us through the process and shows some examples of the results she has achieved using the technique.

Some budding artists may worry that this technique is ‘cheating’. Most definitely not! Jane recommends using the appropriate techniques which help you achieve the best result you can. If you are fortunate enough to be able to scale something up accurately by eye alone then you don’t need this technique. But you might need others to help you in areas where you are weaker.

basic grid for scaling-up an image

Choosing your image to scale-up

This is a picture from my calendar last year, I thought this would be an easy image to enlarge.

I’ve also slightly over lapped the grid so you can see part of the image without the grid and part with.( this is easier than drawing your grid on to the picture, if you make a mistake you have a problem to put it right).

Image to scale up

Attaching the grid

I’ve lined up the image with the lines on the grid to keep the image square. The metal rule at the bottom shows the size of the squares on the grid. When you’re happy with the placement of your image, tape it in place.

grid in place

Drawing the larger grid

I’ve decided to enlarge the image from 1cm to 2cm squares. You could, if you didn’t want your image this big you can enlarge it to 1.5cm instead. (it’s up to you)

Start by marking out the edges of the grid on your paper ( here I have used a watercolour paper 300gsm) with a pencil every 2cm’s counting how many squares you are going to need. Then very lightly join all your marks to create your grid.

larger grid drawn on

Start with the outline

Now you can draw what you see in each square one at a time, now you may think that it’s going to take forever, believe me it isn’t.

I start by concentrating on the outline first, going along the outline of the bird square by square, once you have the outline completed you can see if you have made any mistakes and it’s easier to deal with the mistakes now before you start on any detail.

starting with the outline

Numbering the squares

It helps to number each line on the grid.

numbering the squares

Moving onto the detail

Now that I have completed the outline I can now look at the detail.

finished the outline

Using the lines

This close up shows how using the grid helps you to get the lines in the right place.


using the lines

Remove the grid

Here is the finished pencil drawing, if you’re happy with your drawing all you now need to do is to remove the grid lines with a soft eraser. (That’s why you mustn’t make heavy pencil marks as they need to be removed at the end).

finished pencil drawing

Adding colour

It’s up to you what medium you choose to add colour. I would probably use coloured pencils or watercolour paints or a combination of both.

Is using a grid cheating?

Many of you may be thinking, is using a grid to draw cheating?

No most definitely not. A grid will help you to enlarge a small drawing to the size you are happy to work from. It will help with perspective if you struggle with that. It will help with proportion and getting it right, and placement for example in portrait painting, getting eyes, nose and mouths in the right place.

Now I’m not good at drawing a face free hand. So I’ve always used a grid to help me and I will continue to use grids. To prove it here are a few examples of the faces that I’ve done over the years.

There were no special tools or materials used to work through this technique, nothing that most budding artists wouldn’t already have to hand.

But if you are truly starting from scratch and have nothing at all to draw with then Gadsby’s do sell all of the art materials and supplies necessary for creating pieces of art like those created by Jane.

You have to supply the artistic talent and dedication to make the pieces you love. It is hard work, but it is amazing fun too.

Jane is a member of the Gadsby’s team. She has a wide knowledge of the arts & crafts products and materials sold by Gadsby’s both from the perspective of an advisor in the shop and, for many of the products, from personal use too.

Please note that this is not a service that Gadsbys offer to clients – just an example of the private work done by one of the highly skilled and knowledgable Gadsby’s team shown for your interest.


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