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The Benefits of Kids Using a Simple Grid

I first learned about the grid method of drawing in middle school. As a seasoned art teacher, it is one of my favorite skills to pass down to my students. For those that don’t know what the grid method is here is a simple explanation:

  1. You create a grid or 4, 16 or another number of boxes on a sheet of paper.

  2. Draw the same boxes over the picture you want to replicate.

  3. You can more easily draw the original at a different size onto your paper or canvas.

This technique has multiple benefits (I’ve innovated the technique which I’ll share in just a moment.) Because students learn to match up the lines from one quadrant to the next on the grid they get much better at sizing and spatial development in their drawing. Novice or younger students may start from only 4 boxes and move up to 16. Muralists use this method too, but with many more boxes on their grids. Most things in nature are symmetrical. This makes the grid system especially useful. For example a human face where the nose and chin line up.

Students also gain confidence in their ability to create art. This is so important because kids who enjoy doing and feel good about art will continue to do it. Even if a child does not become a professional artist, drawing and painting can be a life-long pursuit. One of my long-term students has used this technique with me since the start, and has stated it has become a valuable tool.

One of the things I’ve innovated in my classes is using a template to quickly sketch the grid rather than folding paper or measuring, This way it’s perfect every time. For most kids once they get us to the idea it is really helpful for them. It doesn’t work for 100% of kids, but that is another thing I recognize is children are unique and no single approach will work for everyone.

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