OCAD Studio: Simple Bargue Drawing – Measurement and Line Drawing

Bargue Drawing Course is a series of classical plates that were commissioned a famous art teacher in the late 19th Century. They are named after the artist who produced them – Charles Bargue. These days they form the foundation of most classical drawing courses in the world, as they are a great way to introduce the basic principles of drawing to beginner students.

You will learn how to work from them over the course of three projects. This first project will teach you how to work from one of the easier Bargue plates.

In this first lesson, you will learn how to measure from the original, and produce an accurate line drawing that we will be adding tone to in the second lesson.


  • B pencil
  • Pencil sharpener or a knife and sandpaper block
  • Kneadable eraser
  • Hard Eraser
  • Drawing board (at least A3 size)
  • High quality drawing paper (ideally Canson or Fabriano), at least A4 size.
  • Knitting needle or thin paintbrush for measuring
  • Masking tape
  • You will also need to have a copy of this reference image printed out at A4 size.


  1. Print out the reference image and tape it next to your blank sheet of paper on the drawing board.
  1. Draw an anchor line on the blank paper to use as a starting point for your drawing.


  1. Begin plotting your drawing by taking a measurement with your knitting needle  from the anchor line and placing a point.


  1. Place the next point along by taking a measurement from the anchor line and the previous point. Then connect the point with a straight line.


  1. Continue placing subsequent points and connecting them with lines. Keep your points and lines light and fuzzy, so that you can easily erase and correct them without damaging the paper too much.


  1. Occasionally check a point against three reference points (the anchor line and two previous points) to make sure you don’t make any compound errors. It’s better to work slowly and carefully than to rush and risk making a lot mistakes that will cause you trouble later in the drawing.


  1. Once you’ve copied the whole drawing, make sure the shapes match by flicking your eyes between the original and the copy, any mistakes should be obvious. You can also check the shapes by turning the picture upside down or looking at it in a mirror.


This will give you an accurate basis to carry on the drawing in part two of the project. It is a lot easier to get the big proportions correct with a simple construct like this. If you need to correct any shapes or lines you can do it really quickly, whereas if you start with a complicated line drawing it will take a lot longer to make any necessary changes.


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