How to Graph Paper for Drawing Pictures

Written by jay leon
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How to Graph Paper for Drawing Pictures
Graph paper helps make accurate drawings. (pencil draw graph image by Anatoly Tiplyashin from

There are different kinds of graph paper. One of the simplest to use is a graph made up of symmetrical squares. You can make a graph paper of any size or complexity as you like, as long as the lines fit in the paper. Although you can buy or print ready-made graph paper, you can also make your own. Try graph paper next time you want to draw a three-dimensional object or a portrait based on an existing photograph.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 8.5-by-11-inch drawing paper
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Eraser

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  1. 1

    Lay the drawing paper in a landscape position. Place the ruler in the upper part of the paper. Position the ruler so that its length is parallel to the longer side of the paper. Make sure the ruler's side that displays inches is facing up.

  2. 2

    Decide how many squares to put on the long side of the graph paper. To make sure the graph is evenly drawn, use one inch in the ruler to represent each square.

  3. 3

    Move the ruler from side to side until the number of inches needed for the graph are in the middle (not the centre) of the long side of the paper. For example, if you want seven squares or 7 inches, move the ruler horizontally until the space from zero to 7 inches is at equal distance from the left and right side of the paper as you look at it.

  4. 4

    Draw a straight line along the upper side of the ruler. Mark the 1 inch line with a dot. Do the same for every inch that follows until you cover the whole line. Make sure the dots are visible and spaced evenly as this is crucial to making a perfect graph.

  5. 5

    Pick up the ruler. Make its long side parallel to the shorter side of the drawing paper. Move the ruler to the edge of the line you drew, at a right angle to it. Position the ruler so that its zero mark starts where the horizontal line ends.

  6. 6

    Draw a line downwards, using the ruler to keep it straight. Once again, mark every inch with a dot until you come to the end of the line.

  7. 7

    Look over the graph. You should now have a horizontal line and a vertical line at a right angle to each other. You should see the dots on both lines where you marked the inches.

  8. 8

    Draw identical lines on the opposite sides of the graph. Use the ruler as a guide. You should now have a frame for the graph paper.

  9. 9

    Align the long side of the ruler to the first row of dots, parallel to the longer lines. Draw a straight line across the dots until you reach the edge of the graph. Repeat with each row of dots. You should finish with several horizontal lines inside the graph paper.

  10. 10

    Align the long side of the ruler to the first column of dots, parallel to the shorter lines. Draw a line here from top to bottom. Repeat for each column of dots. You should finish with a completed graph paper.

Tips and warnings

  • To render a picture into a graph paper, draw similar lines on the picture itself. Make a copy of the photograph or illustration that you want to draw. Use the copy as your model and draw the lines on it. The lines must be a scaled-down (or scaled up) version of your graph paper. For example, if you use a 12-by-12 graph paper, draw 12-by-12 squares on the picture too, relative to its size.

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