Friday, 25 January 2013

Quick Tips: How to make a viewfinder

Whether you are sketching in the countryside or are looking at a still life in class it is often hard to know what to draw and what to leave out!  This can often lead to disappointing compositions.  A viewfinder is a simple tool used for first finding an interesting composition and then judging the positions of objects while drawing.  First you need to make your viewfinder; there are many different ways to do this; make sure you choose one that will suit your purpose. 

Example 1

1) Use a sturdy piece of card that won't bend when it is picked up.
2) Draw two diagonal lines from corner to corner that cross in the middle

3) Measure across the diagonal lines to draw the rectangular window, make sure your lines are straight, use a right angle ruler or set square if necessary. 

4) If you are drawing on ‘A’ series paper, draw the rectangular window to measure; 105 x 74mm, 74 x 52mm, 52 x 37mm or 37 x 26mm.  The rectangle in the middle should now have the same proportions as your drawing paper so that the edges of the viewfinder’s window represent the edges of your paper.

5) Carefully cut out the viewfinder window with a scalpel and metal ruler.

Example 2
  1. Use a pencil and ruler to draw two corner shapes on thick card; they should be the same size. The corners should be around 50mm wide so they stay rigid when held up.
  2. The length of the corners depends on the size of your card and how large you will need your viewfinder to be. Around 200mm should be sufficient.
  3. Cut out the corners.
  4. Place the one corner over the other so they overlap, forming a frame.
  5. By moving the two corners, you can change the size and proportions of the window, adapting it to relate to any paper or canvas proportions.
  6. Use two paper clips to keep your corners in place.

Example 3
An old slide frame can make a very useful small viewfinder.  With the added advantage of being able to draw different compositional devices on blank slides and swap them over.

 Empty slide and slide with the rule of thirds.

Example 4
You could also use a sheet of acetate combined with a card border to divide your window into thirds, the golden rectangle etc.

Golden rectangle and Fibonacci spiral on acetate

Example 5
There are also many different types of viewfinders that you can buy but why spend out on something that is so easy to make?

In part two we will look at how to use your viewfinder...

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