How to Measure Angles with a Pencil

Life Drawing Academy

How to measure angles with a pencil

How to measure angles from life is one of the most fundamental skills to have. It is especially useful when you draw objects in perspective.

Angles of lines that converge into vanishing points are more important than locations of those points. This is because a vanishing point is an abstract virtual dot somewhere on the horizon you do not see in life. However, angles are real and you can measure them with precision. How to do it is explained below and demonstrated in this video »

How to Measure Angles with a Pencil - Life Drawing Academy

How to measure angles from life:

  1. Arrange a drawing board vertically, perpendicular to your line of sight.
  2. Stand or sit in front of the easel at an arm length from the drawing board, so you could see life objects and drawing simultaneously.
  3. Hold the pencil with the candle grip.
  4. Fully extend your arm with a pencil, so it can touch the drawing board. The pencil must be parallel to the board.
  5. Turn your whole torso without moving your hand and arm toward the life object you measure.
  6. Make sure that you keep the pencil strictly perpendicular to your line of sight.
  7. Keeping the 90-degree angle between the pencil and the line of sight, close one eye, and rotate the pencil to align it with the angle you measure from life

  8. If you are not sure what does it mean "90-degrees to the line of sight", imagine that you are standing in front of the wall. On that wall is a clock with one hand. This clock and its hand are perpendicular to your line of sight, but the hand rotates, showing the time. The same with a pencil in your hand. It must be perpendicular to your line of sight while you rotate it at any angle required.

    How to measure angles in drawing:

  9. Keeping your arm and hand in the same position, turn your whole torso back to the drawing board. The pencil must remain perpendicular to the line of sight and be parallel to the drawing board.
  10. Compare the pencil's tilt to the angle in drawing. Correct the drawing if required.

This knowledge helps to draw not only vanishing lines, but any tilted lines you see in life.

Download PDF - How to measure angles with a pencil

To your creative success,

Vladimir London
Art tutor

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