How to make measurements easier to judge

In my tutorials you'll see me say something like "such and such is one fifth the width of this other thing". While this is a useful way of keeping everything in porportion, not everyone has a way to measure what they are doing nor does anyone want to bother with stuff like that. After all, we're not doing something that requires finite, anal attention to detail like brain surgery. We're just doing some artwork.

The key with guides like that is that you keep your proportions are close to what is needed. Perfect accuracy might look best, but really you don't need to whip out the rulers, protractors and calculators to ensure that your measurements are perfect.

Here are some tips for making decent guesses (aka 'eyeballing') to divisions of a line.

  • To find the half-way point of an object, just look for the spot were the amount of the object on both sides of your pencil is about the same.
  • One third of an object is just a little more than one fourth of that object.
  • To work out how big one fourth of an object is, just find the half-way point of half of the object.
  • One fifth is just slightly less than one fourth, and four fifths are just slightly more than three fourths.
  • To work out one sixth, find the half-way point and then find one third of one half.
  • One seventh of an object is just slightly larger than an eighth.
  • One eighth of an object can be found by finding half of a fourth.

Alternatively, start drawing your object with the size in mind. For example, if you're going to be using one fifth of the object for something, make it five units wide. A 'unit' here could be anything: the width of a finger, a penny, a square on a grid -- anything handy.