Thursday, February 3, 2011

Using the Grid

So now that you have given color cells a try the next step is to create a painting using the cell/grid method.  Kids are always amazed at the results they can achieve using the grid.  For this exercise we will be using a black and white photo.

Here is one I did today and if you look closely (click on photo to see larger) you can see my grid lines.


- watercolor paper
- watercolor, tempera, or acrylic paints
- pencil and ruler
- black and white photos (you can get old movie star photos here)

After printing off your photo measure a grid on to it.  For a regular page you want to measure a 1 inch grid.

You'll have a bit leftover so just trim off the extra.

Now transfer your grid to the paper you will be painting on.  At school we work larger but I can't fir a larger painting in my scanner so this particular piece is the same size.

As long as you have the same # of cells in your grid you will be fine.  So a picture marked off in a 1 inch grid can be transferred to a 2 inch grid, or a 3 or 4 as long as each cell is a square and you have the same # of cells.

Pencil in a sketch to help you paint and start painting square by square.....

Keep painting watching to duplicate the right values......Now it's been a long time since I have painted using a grid and honestly it was hard for me to focus square by square as I am so used to just painting what I want....a good way to deal with this is to turn the painting upside down so you can focus on each individual square and not the picture as a whole.

That's you can change the color scheme....still using a black and white but substituting different colors for the values.

Another interesting idea can be found here, students are given a few squares of both the photograph and blank paper(each have positions coded on the back) and are asked to duplicate what they have....the mystery portrait is then put together as a collaborative project....very cool!

We'll see you next time.


  1. Thank you for your ideas. You are always full of them.
    Hugs ♥

  2. Cool Gail! A great idea for enlarging or reducing!

  3. Its funny that you did this one right now b/c my Drawing I students in HS are working on a value study using close up of animal eyes with the grid system! I love it!!

  4. I had completely forgotten about this technique. Thanks so much for the reminder. It's a great way for kids learning to draw to feel like they can!

  5. 15, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Wonderful Ideas. Just great.

  6. Can I just say that not only have you made the days more enjoyable for the kids in my class but you have added a whole new dimension to my own art experience. The kids regularly check your site to see if I am doing it correctly !! Le gach dea ghuí
    Terence in Ireland

  7. Thanks everyone!
    Hey Terence I'm glad those kids are keeping you on your toes.
    Thanks so much for all the support.

  8. If you are painting the same size, it is much easier to trace than to use grid transfer.