Transposing with grids

Many people find it useful to utilize a grid layout to transpose images. And while doing so is extremely useful for images you want to be accurate, or for large images such as wall murals, this method has its drawbacks. Let's look at the technique itself first.

The basic idea when copying an image in this way is to divide the original into a set of squares and then worry about making each individual square correct.

It's very easy to become dependent on the use of grids. I've seen some students spend most of a class just setting up the grid for the image before they even get to the image itself.

I also have the personal belief that it doesn't help to develop skill in the same way other techniques can. Copying an image by drawing small sections within a grid imbues a skill for just that, drawing small sections, sometimes even simple shapes or colors. It may slow down learning how to draw a more complex shape from memory.

So how do you do comparative copying? Learning to look at pre-existing proportions and features within an image is the key. Let's look at that now.

Transposing via proportions

First we need to identify what we consider a "feature". A feature can be anything. It can be an existing object, the empty space where nothing exists, or individual shapes of an object. If you can describe it in actual words and not an abstract idea then it can be called a feature.

Let's try an exercise in finding proportions. Examine the map of the world below. See if you can find features of the landmasses that are either aligned or relative to each other via their size.

(PIA03395: World in Mercator Projection, Shaded Relief and Colored Height. Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)

If you're still not sur what we mean by features that are relative to each other, let's look at the map a second time, but with various lines overlayed.

Note the areas that we've been able to find shared properties of (we are certainly NOT trying to divide the image evenly or anything like that).

So in this image alone we can establish that...

  • The green line shows that the top of Hawaii, the top of the Yucatan, the top of Cuba, Nouadhibou (western tip of the Sahara), the Eastern tip of Oman, the northern coast of the Bay of Bengal, and the lower tip of Taiwan all exist on one horizontal line.
  • The red line shows that the exact middle of the southern inlet of Hudson Bay, the eastern edge of Florida, the Panama canal, and the western most coast of South America all exist on one vertical line.
  • The blue lines overlaps the west coast of Sweden, the west coast of Sicily, and the west cost of lower Africa.
  • The yellow line cuts across the flaring part of South America, a single protrusion from Africa, the bottom of Madagascar, and bisect Australia evenly.

And so we reflect these observations in our own image. Florida and Oman have to be on the same line in our own image, Madagascar has to be half the vertical height of Australia in our own image, Sweden and Lower Africa have to share a vertical line as well. And so on and so on.

Just as with the sketches from the previous section, you can see that we DO NOT want to put too much time or effor into a preliminary version.