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Wallet size see-through grid cards will help you compose for painting and film, and simplify complex subjects for drawing.

Hello Kickstarters,

I'm Steve Worthington, and I've been a working artist my whole life (drawing storyboards, mostly).

A great book on perspective (creative perspective for artists and illustrators, by Ernest W. Watson) taught me an invaluable lesson many years ago that's been a life saver ever since. Namely, he explains the old artist's trick of using the square as a unit of measure. UPDATE: I found the chapter (or most of it, anyway) on Google books and you can read it (pages 31 through 37 or whatever they show of it) HERE.

Improve your drawing

If you ever run out of space on the page, or find your proportions all messed up after getting a bit bogged down in some details, you should give it a try too!

In a nut shell, you need to quickly get a sense of (by measuring in some way) the relative sizes and proportions of your subject as it appears to you, before you can draw it, and the square is the ideal tool to achieve this.

With a measuring square held up to your subject and of course at 90 degrees to your line of sight (move it towards or away from your eye to fit your subject) you can quickly establish the main masses on your page by comparing them to a square. Is it a bit shorter? A bit longer? A square in your hand gives you the perfect starting point.

For storyboarding especially, it's essential to get the big proportions nailed straight away since time is of the essence. But I'm guessing no artist likes wasting time starting over because they didn't get the big visual plan down properly.

How I thought of wallet sized grid cards

That long learned system of thinking spawned the idea for these cards while I was finger doodling a car on my iPhone in a supermarket parking lot.

While I was using an imaginary square in my head I thought 'It would be nice to check for sure against a portable grid I could carry in my wallet.'

My four flimsy prototypes that could blow away on the breeze! The final products will feel like credit cards.
My four flimsy prototypes that could blow away on the breeze! The final products will feel like credit cards.

So I made some. The square based drawing aids came first, quickly followed by a card dividing a golden section rectangle into thirds. 

Using the square to quickly measure and see how to draw a car. You can see at this angle it's 2 squares long and the tail lights form the sides of one square and sit right above the half way up line.
Using the square to quickly measure and see how to draw a car. You can see at this angle it's 2 squares long and the tail lights form the sides of one square and sit right above the half way up line.

Compose better shots

The golden section, or golden ratio, has long fascinated artists and can be found repeated throughout numerous organic forms in nature, as well as in art forms from all across the world.

That's why I made the golden ratio card.

After those first 2 cards, I wanted to create a card for film makers to compose shots in a 16:9 aspect ratio (the golden ratio is approximately 16:10). If you hold it near your eye it feels like a wider angle lens. Hold it further from your eye for the effect of a long lens.

Suddenly you're seeing the world like Steven Spielberg!

Using the 16:9 card to practice seeing the world as a cinematographer
Using the 16:9 card to practice seeing the world as a cinematographer
The golden section rectangle employing the rule of thirds.
The golden section rectangle employing the rule of thirds.

Very handy for painters

My wife Meridee is a painter and so I made a version for her which has little marks along the edges indicating the ratios of popular canvas sizes. Stick a bit of black tape across the appropriate marks and you are seeing the world as framed by your favorite canvas size. Use no tape at all and you have the 16:9 video framing. 

Using the tiny marks to tape off a frame to match your favorite canvas size
Using the tiny marks to tape off a frame to match your favorite canvas size

I'll add some numbers to the borders indicating which marks are good for which canvas ratios in the final iteration, but the canvas sizes covered by that one card include all of these...

2x3  24x36  48x72

3x4  9x12  12x16  18x24  30x40  36x48

4x5  8x10  16x20  24x30  48x60

5x6  20x24

5x7

7x9  14x18

11x14

Square sizes are of course covered by the card made of squares (5 wide x 3 high).

Composing using squares. The thicker lined square divided into thirds is especially helpful of course if you are doing a square painting!
Composing using squares. The thicker lined square divided into thirds is especially helpful of course if you are doing a square painting!

By the way that's Meridee's painting in the video.

Well it turns out after she started checking out the view through one or two of my flimsy prototype cards she's VERY keen for me to get this project up and running so she can have a set of sturdy ones for her wallet.

And I'll have something to check my accuracy against when I'm sitting outside the supermarket doodling vehicles on my phone!

Would that make a good painting?

Say you're out and about for whatever reason and you notice a view and wonder if you could get any decent paintings out of it. Perhaps there's limited places to set up. Just whip out your handy dandy card which is always with you and quickly asses what the possibilities are. Then decide if it's worth schlepping back with your painting/drawing gear!

In a nut shell

These cards are a very simple and quick way to improve your compositional skills since they help you analyze your scene in a simpler form, and compose along the rule of thirds principle (where you avoid the center lines and place objects of interest on intersections of lines which divide up the picture area by thirds).

Meridee's particularly excited to get out painting with them since with a quick swing around in front of your face they present numerous paint-able options from any given scene.

Making them here in the USA

The finished cards will be made here in the USA of a nice sturdy clear plastic which will be just like looking through a window. The lines are indelibly printed onto the clear plastic. You'd have to get some serious tools into play if you wanted to try and scratch them off!

I've tried (and failed) to scratch the ink off the stock and printing method samples I was sent.

With your help I'd love to get these out there!

Great gift!

If you draw, paint or shoot video I know you'll find them really useful.

If you know someone who draws, paints or shoots video and you gave them a set, I know they'd find them really useful, and always handily close by in their wallet.

Want more than one set?

If you want more than one set, just pledge in multiples of $10, so if you would like 3 sets, pledge $30 (you can select the $1 pledge option, and then you can put in the correct amount for what you want). Remember to add $2 for to your pre-order for delivery outside of the continental USA.

Memory drawing

The square as a way to simplify complex compositions is especially useful for memory drawing. As a test, I whipped out the flimsy prototype of my squares card (after I'd finished my quesadilla) to make a quick mental note of a table of diners on the patio where we were eating.

I noted mentally that the scene overall was one and a half squares wide, and that elbows fell at about a half a square up. And then I finished my beer.

Then when I got home I scribbled, in about a minute, a quick overview of the recollected scene. I didn't take any photo's or anything to help me, I just had the memory of the square to quickly establish the overall layout. Had I not made that quick mental note I would have had a much harder time roughing in the scene.

The same approach also holds true when working directly from reference material.

A memory test after making a mental note using my squares card of a table of diners
A memory test after making a mental note using my squares card of a table of diners

Complicated made simple

Here's another example of using the square to quickly grasp an overview of a fairly complicated subject (and an excuse for me to show off one of my bronzes!)...

A quick square-based analysis to assist drawing a complex subject
A quick square-based analysis to assist drawing a complex subject

I got a nice shout out from Gabriel Campanario. He founded the Urban Sketchers, authored 'The Art of Urban Sketching', and runs the Seattle Sketcher blog on the Seattle Times site. Click HERE for his post about my cards.

The set of 4 artist gridcards. These are my flimsy prototypes, the finished cards will be credit card size and thickness.
The set of 4 artist gridcards. These are my flimsy prototypes, the finished cards will be credit card size and thickness.

Thanks for looking,

Cheers,

Steve.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

There are no risks or challenges (stray meteors not withstanding), since I have sourced my supplier and got quotes on production costs and minimum order requirements.

FAQ

  • Yes. While I can't create pledge tiers comprising multiple sets, I will send multiple sets to anyone who pledges full multiples of the required amount. So if you are in the continental United States, your pledge amount for one set is $10. Let's say you already pledged $10 but you want 3 sets. Therefore if you change your pledge to $30 I'll send you 3 sets, and so on, up to as many as you want.

    If you live outside the continental United States, your pledge amount including shipping is $12, so if you pledge $36 I'll send you 3 sets, and so on, up to as many as you want.

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    Set of all 4 credit card sized grid cards.

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