Making and Using a Viewfinder to Set Pastel Compositions - dummies

Making and Using a Viewfinder to Set Pastel Compositions

By Sherry Stone Clifton, Anita Marie Giddings

Part of Pastels For Dummies Cheat Sheet

A viewfinder helps you focus your scene and determine your pastel work’s orientation. You can buy various adjustable and window viewfinders, but you can easily make your own as well. Your pastel composition will thank you.

When you use a viewfinder, you hold it so that you can see the scene you are drawing in its window. The viewfinder isolates your scene by cropping out everything except the part of the scene you want to draw so that you can see exactly what it will look like on your paper if you transfer it accurately. The viewfinder also helps you establish accurate positions of your subjects on the paper in your initial drawing. If you bisect the window of your viewfinder with threads, you can draw lines on your paper to bisect it in a similar manner so that you can use them as guides to transfer your image, drawing the shapes according to their positions on the grid you created.

To make a basic window viewfinder, stick to these simple steps:

  1. Take an index card and cut a window in the center using the same proportion of height and width as the paper you’re using.

    For example, if your paper is 12 inches x 16 inches, measure and cut a window 1-1/2 inches x 2 inches in the center of the card.

  2. Use a metal ruler and a utility knife to cut straight edges.

  3. After you cut the window, mark the middle point of each side and tape a thread from one side to the opposite side, bisecting the window horizontally and vertically.

    See our following example.


To use the viewfinder, look through the window at your scene and notice where objects in your scene line up with the threads or corners of the viewfinder. Lightly mark the halfway points on each side of your paper and use them to help you map the size, shape, and positions of the objects in your scene.