Getting the proportions of each element of your artwork correct is vital to create a realistic looking drawing or painting. A successful illustration has each shape drawn in the correct size in proportion to every other shape in the drawing. Proportions can be one of the hardest skills for beginners to develop. Luckily there are a few tricks that you can use to help you to make those judgements about the size of your shapes.
1. Draw the shape – not the duck
Duck? who mentioned a duck?
OK, I’m using a duck as an example, but it could be any object. If you are a beginner and you try and draw a duck, your brain starts by trying to simplify the duck to shapes that can be drawn easily and will be recognizable. Your brain will guide you to draw that simplified version of the duck so that others may recognize your drawing. The trouble is that the simplified version that your brain is telling you may not look anything like the real duck that you are trying to draw. It leads to confusion and frustration as you try and draw what your brain is telling you while comparing your drawing to the real duck.
Whether you are trying to draw a duck, a car, a persons face or a bowl of flowers, the principle is exactly the same. Your brain will try and draw the object in the simplest way it can, while also modifying the shapes so that your drawing will be recognizable. The secret to drawing is to follow the real shapes that you are seeing rather than drawing what your brain tells you to draw.