Shape replication exercise

I’m not all the way through yet but I was hoping to get some feedback on the shape red exercises. I have been using the divider quite a lot to get me through each exercise which I was wondering if that is normal for them. Anyways I appreciate any advice on what I could do or what I could do differently. Please let me know it is much appreciated.

Hi Riordan,

These are looking really good, your freehand lines are very straight with a nice light pressure, excellent progress so far!

Are you checking the positions with your divider after you draw them in? This is the best way to improve your judgement - it can become easy to rely on the divider otherwise; and then you’re essentially practicing using a divider rather than challenging your spatial awareness. Don’t worry about getting them wrong, this is what makes you improve.

You don’t need to use dots to position the lines either - if you can just visualise the line (hold the pencil tip where you think you need to start and go from there) while comparing with the reference sheet.

I found it saved time and improved my accuracy to line the reference up horizontally next to my paper and replicate the four boxes on the sheet aligned in the same vertical column layout - you seem to be doing each box ad hoc and positioning them randomly on the paper - this might be introducing more difficulty than you need at this stage. Also the closer in proximity your paper is to the reference - the easier it will be to compare between that and your replication.

I posted all my shape reps on here too, so there might well be some info in that thread that gives you some extra ideas:- Martin - shape reps

It’ll be good to see your next batch, you’re doing really well.


Thank you very much this advice it is very helpful. From your advice I feel I have been relying on the divider too much. I will also try visualizing the lines more instead I haven’t been doing that enough.
Your post is quite helpful as well especially with all the feedback and photos you have on there.
I appreciate the help and I will put the next set of these up once I get them done.

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Hi Riordan—yes these are looking good. In order to determine if you are using the dividers too much we have to first understand what we are trying to accomplish in this exercise—and this begins with dispelling a myth. While this myth indeed continues to propagate—the truth is—no, practicing observational representationalism (representational drawing/painting from observation) does not make you see “more accurately.”

However, what certain types of practice in the realm of observational representationalism CAN develop is the establishment and reinforcement of specific visuomotor responses to specific types of visual information that are conducive to representational efforts. These associations can be strengthened in a number of ways—including something as simple as the strategic use of measurement in certain exercises. This is exactly what is happening (or should be) within the shape replication (SR) exercises.

With each SR sheet, you are working to associate the drawing of certain marks with the perception of certain lines, angles and and ultimately shapes. The dividers can be used to set origin destination dots the will define the orientation and length of SR component lines—but you are ultimately trying to get to a point where you do not need them in this context. The best way to build that skill is to experience what the “correct” line feels like a good number of times (actually quite alot.) This is where the dividers come in. You can set the OD dots place the line and “experience” it (verifying with the overlay of course.) Do this a good number of times with the dots, and eventually you will be able to make the “correct” lines without them. This is how we pair an particualr observation with a particularly useful representative mark.

Understanding this concept behind the exercise should allow you to determine if you are using the dividers too much, too little, or just enough.

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That information is really cool! I didn’t know that to that extent thank you explaining all that to me.
I will keep working on the SR sheets and either update or ask if needed.

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Firstly, would like to add that I am finally in a position where I can practice this course everyday which is awesome. Anyways, I am back on the shape reps and have a question. I can draw the lines straight fine but seem to struggle with getting lines that are totally horizontal or vertical to be totally balanced. As you can probably see in the erase marks from having to do them over a million times it took me a lot tries to get them balanced. I was wondering if it had to do with something I am doing wrong that I should adjust or if its just something that is improved solely through repetition until I can get them balanced. Any help on this or anything else that could be added to help me is greatly appreciated.


Hey Riordan!

It is great to see that you are able to attack these with a more stable schedule. The results will definitely be much better with a regular practice schedule. There is nothing else that you should be doing (that I can tell) other than working toward the goal of a “balanced” line as you state. Much of what comes from this program is acquired through the experience of practice. And just as you assume—“its just something that is improved solely through repetition until I can get them balanced.” That’s it.

I hope that you will continue to keep us updated on your progress. And please—do not hesitate to ask as many questions as you like. That is why this resource exists.

Have a great weekend,



It is great that you have structured a regular schedule to focus on these; that’s something I’ve always struggled with. It really is a big factor in improvement.

You are drawing these lines in one motion right, and not joining several sections of broken line? I don’t think you are - but figured I’d mention it in case, as that could definitely cause the symptom you are describing.

These are looking straight, even if you’re taking multiple runs to get it right, that’s the idea, and just more practise, and the fact you know when you’re ‘off’ is a very good thing. The paper texture (especially bumpy side) can cause a little line wobble at a close-up level, and the light pressure you’re using makes this more pronounced, don’t beat yourself up about that too much. Super work so far!