Compose-It-Grids is a family-owned company based in Austin, Texas. After having produced these sturdy grids for nearly 20 years, we have recently purchased the company, and are excited to continue bringing this quality product to you!
Compose-It-Grids offers an easy to use and convenient tool for all your perspective and composition needs. These high-quality acrylic grids come in full (8"x10") and pocket (4"x5") sizes!
The Compose-it-Grids come in eight proportional sizes. Each grid has listed on it the most common canvas and drawing pad sizes used in that format.
Here is an example of a full size (8"x10") 4:5 proportion Compose-It-Grid! (Dry-erase marker sold separately)
There have been many grids developed over the years but none as easy to use as Compose-It-Grids. An internet search on the history of art grids yields some compelling information. Here is one link regarding this:
– "To provide a high-quality product and service to our customers with integrity, consistency, accuracy, and a fair price."
Quickly position and sketch your composition using the same proportioned grid as your final surface. Then use the grid to help transfer your sketch to your canvas, drawing pad or other two-dimensional surface. It is easy to use whether you are doing landscapes on location, a model, still life in your studio, or in an art class. Compose-It-Grids ensures all your composition fits the way you want and in the correct perspective. They make doing art much easier.
There are multiple Compose-It-Grid sizes, each is to be used with a dry-erase marker and eraser for easy clean up. First, be sure to use a Compose-It-Grid in the same proportion as your painting or drawing surface. Use the grid as a frame to determine the composition you like best.
Using a dry erase marker, trace a sketch of your composition onto the "Draw Side" of your Compose-It-Grid. It helps to pick a reference point to make sure you have not strayed from your starting position. Now, make a similar grid on your canvas or drawing pad. You now have a sketch of the composition you chose, in the correct perspective. You can easily make changes or corrections by erasing using a soft cloth, tissue, or a dry-erase marker eraser.
Dotting the Canvas
First, put a small dot at the center of your canvas. Preferably use charcoal on a white surface or chalk on a tinted surface because it is easy to erase but you can use another media if you prefer. You can use a ruler or visually divide each half in half again until you have nine small dots making sixteen squares or rectangles. You are now ready to transfer your sketch. Pick a square or rectangle and start to systematically transfer the lines visually of each square or rectangle on the Compose-It-Grid to the corresponding square or rectangle on your drawing surface. You can again use charcoal, chalk or the media of your choice. Important: If you are using the 6in1 or the small 4x5 inch Compose-It-Grids, they divide into thirds not fourths, so there will be only 4 dots and 9 rectangles.
At this point your talent and creativity takes over. The Compose-It-Grids can not guarantee a great work of art but they certainly help with your initial composition and getting that composition to your painting surface with less effort and more accuracy than most artists can do freehand. Best wishes doing the art you love. See FAQs for some common questions and some additional ways to use your Compose-It-Grids.
Ready to find your new Compose-It-Grid? We are excited to share our quality hand-crafted grids with you in order to fulfill all of your perspective and composition needs! Click the button below to see a full list of our products and suggested retail prices!
*Note that actual retail price will vary depending upon location*
These full-sized grids come in clear only. Each grid is 8"x 10" in size of one proportion and has listed on it the most common canvas and drawing pad sizes used in that format.
- Covers all square formats.
- 6x12, 10x20, 12x24, 16x32, 18x36, 20x40, 24x48, 36x72.
- 3x9, 4x12, 5x15, 6x18, 7x21, 8x24, 9x27, 10x30, 11x33, 12x36, 24x72.
- 6x9, 8x12, 10x15, 12x18, 14x21, 16x24, 18x27, 20x30, 24x36, 48x72.
- 9x12, 12x16, 15x20, 18x24, 21x28, 24x32, 27x36, 30x40, 36x48, 54x72.
- 8x10, 16x20, 24x30, 32x40, 36x45, 40x50, 48x60.
- 10x12, 15x18, 20x24, 25x30, 30x36, 35x42, 40x48, 50x60, 60x72.
- 11x14, 22x28, 33x42, 44x56, 55x70.
- Six smaller proportional grids in one 8x10 inch drawing tool. (Includes 1:1, 1:2, 2:3, 3:4, 4:5, and 7:8 proportions).
These pocket-sized grids come in clear or red. Each grid is 4"x5" in the 3:4 proportion.
-3:4 on clear acrylic - a 3:4 proportional grid on clear acrylic. The 3:4 proportion is the most commonly used proportion outdoors. This smaller version is for those who want to carry it around in their pocket. You can also use the small holes on top of the grid to look through to compare the value of colors to each other and to black. You can even use one hole to put a string through it and carry around your neck to make it handy when doing location work.
-A blank red panel used to find and compare the values of color.
-3:4 on red acrylic - a 3:4 proportional grid on red transparent acrylic. It is great in helping compose value by simplifying the values into light, medium and dark. You can also use the small holes on top of the grid to look through to compare the value of colors to each other and to black. You can even use one hole to put a string through it and carry around your neck to make it handy when doing location work.
-A blank red panel used to find and compare the values of color.
Store your grid in any art bag or backpack. Keep it in the plastic bag when not using. If the bag is lost or needs to be restored, store it in any plastic bag that is ventilated. You can punch a few holes yourself if needed.
Using charcoal on any white surface and chalk on any dark surface should work well to set up your outline.
Make sure you store your markers tip down in a cup to keep the ink dark.
Since 6’x12’ is a 1:2 proportion, use the Compose-It-Grid 1:2 to do your drawing. If you have access to an overhead projector, you might be able project your drawing on the wall to quickly trace it. If the room is too small then you will have to follow the directions like you would do on a regular canvas.
If you have an 8x10 single proportion Compose-It-Grid, sometime you may want to make a smaller rectangle of the same proportion. You can cut two pieces of blue painters tape: one 6 inches and another 4 inches. It is removable so just keep it on the 'Draw Side' on the black border, so it is there when you might need it. This can be especially useful when recomposing from your photographs. (See photo #8)
White chalk works great for drawing on a tinted canvas surface because it disappears with water. (See photo #6)
If it doesn’t have to be exact you can use a long brush and trace your composition looking through the clear acrylic grid. It is great for making quick copies of flower arrangements. (See photo #7)
After you’ve done your sketch on the canvas step back and look through your Compose-It-Grid and then line up your sketch on the canvas to the drawing on your grid. That is a good way to make sure you did it right.
Compose-It-Grids is the intellectual creation of Cindy DeBold, an artist in the Austin area. After struggling to find an easy way to draw landscapes it dawned upon her that creating a grid overlay would help her quickly transcript the backdrop image and keep the proportion to the forefront. This would allow her to more accurately and more quickly relay the image to canvas while maintaining the natural perspective of the composition. The results were fantastic! Since then, these girds have grown in popularity as artists continue to find clever ways to use them, far beyond just landscape replication. Cindy has decided to retire from the company of Compose-It-Grids to focus on her more artistic endeavors, such as sculpting. Our family has been manufacturing these amazing grids for nearly 20 years and we were very excited to recently purchase the company and continue the legacy of this visionary artist and her wonderful grids! Please enjoy a few of her videos just below explaining the product and a few of its uses.
Fulfill your composition and proportion needs!
Make your next project a breeze!
Your new favorite art tool!
"I'm a big believer in taking the time upfront to work out any major compositional and layout issues in your work before the brush hits the canvas so last week, while reading Artist's Magazine, I spotted a cool tool that I just had to get. It's called the Compose-It-Grid--it's an easy-to-use plastic grid that allows you to transfer your planning sketch to your canvas. I already love it for still life composition. Remember the ratio needs to match your canvas size. Personally, I bought the square ratio (1:1) since it's my favorite format as well as the 8 x 10 ratio. Plus, I love that the Grid is heavy duty and will stand up to be tossed in an art tote, etc. for classes and workshops."
Aimee of Scarlet Owl Studios
"I have found it an excellent tool for training one's compositional eye. I do a lot of plein aire painting as well as live figure work in the studio. In plein aire work it is useful in selectively framing a composition much as you would by creating a frame with your hands and fingers to peek through, though with much more ease and clarity. Of course, its main advantage is in being able to locate on the grid the principal objects and lines of the composition with the dry marker and then transpose them to the canvas. This allows one to experiment with line and the relative placement of the large masses before touching the canvas. The tricky illusions of perspective also become immediately obvious. In figure work in a studio setting the compositional help from the Compose-It-Grid works equally well with the added advantage of being able to see the negative spaces around the figure with more clarity. Also important, is the understanding of foreshortening, one of the greatest challenges in figure work since the untrained eye is usually determined to see the relationship of the figure's masses in preconceived ways and not as they actually are. Your Compose-It-Grid provides a reality check that even the most accomplished artist would find helpful, but it is extremely helpful for the student to learn to see the world through the eyes of an artist. I wish you the best of luck on the business end of this enterprise so that this useful tool becomes available to as many artists as possible."
Sincerely, Charles Ewing, Colorado
"The grids are an excellent teaching tool. The students delight in the ease that they can compose deep space around their self-portrait in a thumbnail sketch and then transpose it to a larger surface."
(Madelon Umlauf is a painter and art instructor at Austin Community College where she teaches life drawing and painting.)
"I just wanted you to know that not only is the grid fabulous for looking through and rendering from a distance but placing it on a picture (from a magazine, as an example) offers one of the best renderings possible! I just used one for a series of staircases for a new painting and I couldn't have done it w/o the grid (or let's say, it would have taken me days and days of correcting mistakes, etc., with all these angles)! I am so pleased with the result! Thank you, Cindy, for your genius mind! I've already used one of the viewfinders and I just love them! So far, my classes are giving you a rave review and want to know when these will be out on the market! Thank you again, Cindy!"
Best, Polly Jackson
Art Instructor for Texas Union Informal Classes, University of Texas
"A bunch of us had your grid for Debbie's workshop last week and just loved them and found them a big help!! Thought you would like to know."
Diane Hooker Marietta, GA
"As a graphic designer, the use of grids in strengthening compositions and layouts, is part of my trade. Now that I am doing fine art drawing and watercolors, these grids give the artwork work a mature format. After trying out one of these sturdy grids, I've now got them ALL. Until a correct 'armature' or structure is fully developed, the artwork lacks cohesive power. So, I recommend all proportions which are offered. The smaller 'reddish' grid is a real help when contemplating color values as well."
"I use this to see black & white values for my pen & ink work...and rule of thirds. I lost my old value finder while moving so this is new to me. I like it better!"
BMc, Albany, NY
"I use this product to aid in seeing the values landscape as well as figure compositions. It beats squinting your eyes all the time. I have already recommended it to my friends and students!"
Pat, Chicago, IL
"I have one that I have used for years. I want one in both oil color and watercolor totes plus and extra one where I draw. it is very helpful with my values."
Creative, Park Falls, WI
"We tend to forget how many artists made use of a compositional grid in order to scale drawings up to canvas in the proper ratio. Van Gogh made use of a grid until he claimed he no longer needed one, and David Hockney has exposed the fact that a grid and many other tools were in use long before Durer's time. This is an essential tool for every young artist, whether they are interested in producing a pencil sketch, watercolor or oil painting. I'd suggest beginning by using it in tandem with a photograph, sketch, or a device like an iPad mini, but if you're able to find secure resting place for the grid, you can take it with you while painting en plein air. It is a durable design, but I would caution you against using a grease pencil, or any kind of sharp eraser (like a Pink Pearl eraser), as these will leave unwanted marks which cannot be rubbed off easily. A whiteboard marker is the right thing to use here. I'm wishing that I had one several years ago!"
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