Sight size


Sight Size

The Welsh Academy of Art will provide you with a progressive and rigorous training using the sight-size technique.

Titian is one of the first documented artists to have practiced in the sight-size tradition.  The artists we refer to as the ‘Old masters’ implemented this method.  Not just a measuring technique but also a philosophy, sight-size provides the artist with a logical and effective way of seeing.

History of sight size

Sight-Size is a method of drawing and painting an object exactly as it appears to the artist, on a one-to-one scale. The artist first sets a vantage point where the subject and the drawing surface appear to be the same size. Then, using mirrors and plumb lines, the artist draws the subject so that, when viewed from the set vantage point, both drawing and subject appear the same in dimension. When properly done, sight-size drawing can provide the artist with an accurate measuring technique.

“Drawing correctly from nature is a basic skill and the foundation to good painting.”


It has long been the belief throughout atelier history that the practice of careful drawing is the basis of successful painting, teaching what is now referred to as ‘Classical Realism’ based upon careful observations of nature with attention to detail. Using this method, students progress through a series of tasks such as cast drawing, cast painting, drawing and painting from the live model, and still life. It is in the student’s best interests to allow tutor’s guidance on progress through the tasks.

portrait painting

One goal for sight-size students is to gain enough skill to transfer an accurate image to the paper or canvas without the aid of a mechanical device. Contemporary realist painter Adrian Gottlieb notes that “while professional painters pursuing a full-time career will develop an ‘eye’ that precludes the need for measuring devices and plumb lines (tools necessary during the training period), the observation method itself is not abandoned – instead it becomes second nature.