Techniques - Warm up & Practice Exercises
This is a technique that I discovered while studying the great photo realism work of Chuck Close. If you don't like working on large scale pieces then this technique is a great option to use as it breaks the piece up into a smaller scale - thus allowing you to work on each section as its own project.
1) Choose a picture to draw
2) Divide the picture up into different grids. This can be achieved by measuring out each section that you wish to draw with a ruler and splitting it up into sections of the same length (basic units), or, by using a picture plane/viewfinder. Viewfinders are available to buy, however, it is easy to make one yourself and this also allows you to set your grid to the preferred scale that you require. As you improve you may then set a larger scale to work with.
Creating your own Viewfinder
Draw a grid on a piece of Mylar or acetate film and mat it to suit the scale that you wish to use.
If you are drawing an object (as opposed to just copying a picture) it may be more suitable to have an actual frame to hold up and view your object through. For this you could cut a rectangle (the rectangle being the size that you wish to draw your picture) into cardboard. Glue a clear overhead projector transparency film to the cardboard. Set the scale by drawing vertical and horizontal lines through the center of the window onto the film. The cardboard frame acts as guide to view the object through and hence work out the scale.
A video tutorial of this technique can be found here.
I believe that the reason why I enjoy using this technique so much is partially due to my mathematical and technical drawing background where I learnt to view the world in a very particular, structured and constructive way. By splitting your picture up into different sections it also stops you from viewing the entire object and hence worrying about what you are actually attempting to draw; it therefore allows you to solely concentrate on the outline within each section that you are working on.
This technique can be used in some of the other exercises mentioned within the Warm Up Exercises section - such as, contour and negative space drawing. With practice, you will become much quicker at this technique until you (hopefully!) reach a point at which you are able to mentally visualize these splits without the use of a ruler or picture plane/viewfinder.