OCAD Studio: Measuring Tips and Tools


All measurement tools and tricks should be seen as a way to improve your ability to measure by eye. The ultimate goal of any representational artist should be to work mostly, if not exclusively, by eye. This will allow you to be more expressive and efficient with your work. Measuring excessively will hinder the expression in your work.

I recommend only using measurement at the very beginning of a drawing, after that, try to switch to working by eye, and only use measurement to check the accuracy of marks made by eye.



  • Long, straight instrument, such as a knitting needle or paintbrush
  • Plumb Line
  • Folded Paper
  • Ruler



  1. Start with a bounding box – mark the top, bottom, left and rightmost points of your subject faintly. Make sure the relationship between the width and height is accurate.
  2. Slide your thumb along the needle or paintbrush to measure
  3. Close one eye when measuring.
  4. Use non-dominant hand (the hand you don’t hold your pencil or paintbrush with) to avoid changing hands all the time.
  5. Use Plumb Line to check vertical alignments.
  6. Hold your measuring tool sideways to check horizontal alignments.
  7. Make sure you are always the same distance away from your subject and at the same height.
  8. You can place foot markers for yourself and your subject (tape or marks on the floor).
  9. Keep your arm straight at all times to ensure it’s always the same distance away from your eye.
  10. Flick you eye back and forth between your subject and drawing/ painting to check they match.

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART