How to draw an accurate sketch from your photograph

It can be disappointing and frustrating to spend time on a sketch from a photo to find, when you stand back, that you haven’t got the proportions right.
Artists throughout history have used tips and tricks to ensure that they get their initial drawing correct, and we can use similar techniques without feeling guilty.
Below, I’ve demonstrated a very simple step by step method to enlarge a small image to whatever size you want, achieving an accurate outline within which to begin your drawing.
Step 1
Study your photograph. Decide what you want to include in your drawing. You don’t have to include everything. 🙂

Step 2
Place tracing paper over the photograph, and sketch all important elements – the outline of the animal plus ears, nose, eyes, jaw line, teeth, markings etc. if your photograph is dark, tape it to a window on a bright day, you will see many more details.

Step 3
Remove the tracing and turn it over. Draw a simple grid over the top of your drawing, making sure that you include all of your image in the grid. I keep this first grid really easy, drawing my grid with 1 or 1.5 cm squares. Number the squares along the top, and the column furthest to the left, as per the image below.

Step 4
How big do want your drawing to be? If you haven’t done this before, choose a simple enlargement, such as 2, 3 or 4 times larger. Draw another grid on a large piece of tracing paper, this time make your squares bigger – 2, 3 or 4 centimetres in size, depending on how much bigger you want you final picture to be. Ensure that you have exactly the same number of squares in each grid. As before, label the top left hand square number 1, then consecutively both across and down.

Step 5
Transfer your drawing from the small grid to the large one, square by square. Study each square ensuring that your lines correspond with each other, on both grids. Take your time, and get it right.

Step 6
Turn the tracing paper over again and place on your paper or board. Secure with masking tape (don’t press down too hard with tape, you need to be able to remove without damaging the paper), press firmly with a soft pencil over your lines that you want reproducing. Check by lifting the corner of the tracing paper to see that the image is being transferred. Once finished, remove the tracing paper. You should have an accurate drawing to begin working on (below).
Your final step
Before starting to lay down detail, use some soft sketchy lines to darken and correct your traced drawing.
Voila, there you have it, an accurate sketch from your photograph!