Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Save time with a Grid Sleeve!

Learning an easier way to do something is almost as much fun as exploring new art materials.  Recently, I got a great hint when I took a colored pencil workshop from Karel Armstrong at The Art Store.  Karel also teaches a mixed media and collage class there. 

During the colored pencil workshop, Karel took quite a bit of time to show us a few simple ways to transfer original sketches to the final drawing paper.  While transferring a drawing with a grid is not something new to me (see my blog post: Revisiting my little lambkin), she did have a neat and simple hint that I want to pass on to you.

Okay - grab yourself one of those plastic sleeves that you can get at almost any office supply, locate a fine point sharpie, and round up a good ruler.

Simple Grid Sleeve
What you are going to do is create your grid on the plastic sleeve.  Now you can preserve your original drawing or photograph and you will save a ton of time because you don't have to draw grid lines on any future originals.

Measure your grid lines very carefully so that your drawing will be transferred accurately.

Completed Grid Sleeve

Once you have all of the lines drawn in both directions, number the spaces on the long side and put a letter in the spaces on the short side.  If you have a very large and/or complex drawing, this will help you locate the squares faster while you are drawing.

Draw very light grid lines on your drawing paper, being sure to draw them carefully and accurately, also.

beginning the drawing

Now it is just a matter of matching the square on the grid sleeve with the square on your paper and drawing what you see there.  You may find it helpful to put the letters and numbers on your drawing paper grid lines too.

Before you know it, you will have your drawing all ready to go.

Be sure that you don't draw dark grid lines on your drawing paper.  The light ones I drew were easy to cover up with the colored pencil and they were easy to erase, too.  If you are working with watercolor, you may want to remove your grid lines before you begin painting.

The hardest part of this method is to decide how big you want your drawing to be.  Math.  Dad always said I would need it and he was right!  Basically, if you want your drawing to be twice as big as your original reference material, draw a 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) grid on your sleeve and a 1 inch (2.6 cm) grid on your drawing paper.

With how simple these grid sleeves are to make, you could make several sizes and have them all ready to go for future projects.  If you work larger than letter size, this same method can be used on clear acetate which can be bought on the roll or in large sheets.  Or, you could reduce your very large original to letter size and create a grid sleeve with smaller spaces.

This method can also be used in reverse to make your finished artwork smaller than your original sketch.  When you draw the grid on your final paper, make it smaller than the grid on your grid sleeve.

It's fun to find a hint that makes things simpler - especially when it saves time, too!  Have you found a time saving hint recently? 

Happy creating!


  1. Isn't it great learning new tricks! I do this all the time with my laser :)

  2. Great tips! Thanks, Kathy :D digging out the sheet protectors...

  3. I like this tip. I was looking through the window screen yesterday and thinking of the grids you would use in art class so it is funny that I am seeing this post today.

  4. What a great technique! Thanks for sharing this simple idea with us.

  5. What a cool tip... Thanks for sharing!

  6. Great tip! I've used something similar when making something smaller or larger than the original. It works!

  7. It is fun, memories!

    Thanks, Lee - Yep, I may make a sheet in another size, too.

    Cool, Erika!

    Thanks, Rose - and you are welcome!

    Thanks, Pam! You are welcome!

    Thanks, Janet! I haven't used this to reduce and image yet, but I do want to give that a try, too.

  8. I can remember using this method to "copy" patterns from a magazine article, etc. Very cool tip!

  9. Hey, Karin - I remember doing that, too, but I had forgotten all about it until you mentioned it!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Related Posts with Thumbnails