SpanglefishGerald Laing Art Foundation | sitemap | log in


Objective drawing is the process of rendering three dimensional reality on a flat plane. The flat plane is represented by the sheet of paper on which the drawing will be made, and is known as the Picture Plane.

My aim today is to deconstruct and therefore to demystify the process itself.

The two most important tasks in objective drawing are:

First, to set the scale of the drawing; secondly, to demonstrate the correct relationship between the elements which comprise the subject matter.

With this end in view, the drawing should be considered as a system of notation which is designed purely to convey visual information. It can consist of line, tone, or a combination of both.

All of the strategies here described are employed in order to translate accurately the disposition of and the relationship between the objects which are being translated from the three dimensions of reality to the two dimensions of the picture plane.

The following techniques will establish the principles involved and facilitate the process:

1. Establish which is the master eye of each student (almost always the right eye.)

2. Before beginning to draw, decide precisely how much of the area in front of the drawing position will be included on the picture plane.

3. Establish on the paper two obvious items on either side of the image area, as nearly as possible on a horizontal line. These will set the scale of the drawing and the distance from the eye at which the pencil will be held for measuring other dimensions and angles.

4. When measuring, keep the head as closely as possible in the same position, and use only the master eye.

5. To establish the relationship between visual events (points at which objects intersect each other) use the principle of triangulation. Obvious examples of triangulation can be seen in the technique of map making. A combination of triangulation and measurement (with the pencil held vertically and at a constant distance from the eye) will enable cross-checking of the exact position of visual events. The recognition of the character, or characteristic form, of different triangles can easily be cultivated.

6. The system at (5) above can be demonstrated and practiced by the use of the drawing easel with a glass panel.

7. The following points should be born in mind:

a. The base line or starting dimension (in 3 above), must be scaled to the paper.
b. In order fairly to establish true relative positions of events, all of the elements of the subject being drawn must be given equal emphasis. Do not single out a "subject" of the drawing, or concentrate on anyone particular area. Open forms should be as carefully described as are closed forms. (cf. Asperger's Syndrome.) c. Only draw what you are certain of; that is, simply each visual event with a sufficient characteristic so that you can recognise its source, but draw nothing surrounding it until you have accurately established its position.
d. Allow the drawing to develop as a system of notation. If you continue with you system of notation the drawing will reveal itself. Resist a tendency to "join up the dots."
e. AVOID: preconception, jumping to conclusions, guessing, and fudging.

Gerald Laing 20 July 2005

Click for Map

Plexus Media