Proportional Divider Help For Drawing

Among tools used in drawing there should be a proportional divider. Sooner or later if you are serious about painting, drawing, or sculpturing you will come to a point you will need to check your proportions, distances, or scaling. You can do all that with a proportional divider and gain some extra benefits.

This is a small, portable tool that allows you to easily measure and scale objects. It’s helpful to artists who are either looking for ways to improve their work or just want to experiment with new shapes.


  • Confidence. First of all, you will get confidence. Confidence that all your drawing proportions are correct, and that the scale between objects is right. There is no worst thing when you realize that the space between eyes on the drawing is wrong, and that is so frustrating! 
  • Speed. The second thing you will get with a proportional divider is speed; you will become faster. When you are confident in the things you do, then usually you will advance faster. Faster and more precise, isn’t that great? But don’t rush in with your art, even when you have those skills. Enjoy!
  • Observation skill. Yes, your observation skill will improve with time, because the divider will actually show you where to look, what is important.

Do you need grids with dividers?

Many artists especially those that are doing portraits, use grids for correct proportions. And that is ok, but it is very messy, and you can easily destroy your paper with an eraser.

Erasing all of those grids from the paper is very destructive, and everybody knows that the artist avoids using erasers.


If you use an eraser then a kneaded eraser is the best possible choice for light erasing.

Grids help us to achieve correct proportions, and many portrait artists don’t want to lose the only accurate way to get proportions right.

If you are a grid lover which also can perfectly be usable with a proportional divider I have a bonus tip for you. Make the process of creating grids easier with a free tool, just upload your image and get a grid by your preferences.


Every portrait starts with good outlines, and this is the foundation of every portrait. 

Let’s return to a proportional divider, which is known as the best tool for proportion since 1950. Maurice Kidjel (1888–1976) is the inventor of the proportional divider, his research in proportions make him invent a divider.

The only difference between his and today’s dividers is that he was fixed to a 1:5.333 scale and today’s divider can scale in different ranges.

So why mess up on the beginning with face sketches or the structure of the painting, and lose your time for nothing. 

Use a proportional divider and make your time more productive.

For what is a proportional scale used?

With a proportional scale, you can enlarge or reduce your drawing, painting, sculpting. Etc. 

Is using divider cheating?

Some artists force them-self not to use proportion dividers because they say that is cheating ( and it is not cheating). But for many artists especially for beginners, this is a gamechanger.  It will help them to enter the art world with less stress.

It will improve your observation skills, and then when you learn to observe you will do it with a free hand. It important is not to “exchange” proportional divider for your eyes, use your eyes and hand coordination as much as you can.  

How do you use a proportional divider?

If you know how divider works and you wish to skip to the best divider on the market scroll down for the best dividers on market.

On the market there are many different dividers, we will get to them later. What you should know is that they all work the same, they have the same job. 

  • To transfer scale 
  • Check proportions 
  • Measure distances 

The proportional divider is used as a helping tool for drawing or painting with reference photos and from real life.

Instructions on how to use proportional divider with the reference image

  • Place reference image on your drawing table, and your drawing paper by side.
  • To make the process much easier you need to use grid lines, but not like in the square technique. We need only one vertical and horizontal line on the reference image and the same on drawing paper.
  • Choose your scale by selecting different pin positions on your divider, be aware that this is not a precise tool for 100% correct measures. You should buy a professional tool for that. For proportion and scale works perfectly.
  • Secure your pin and you can start from the center where two lines are crossing each other, select your point.

So which information you are transferring to your paper?

If you changed pin position then you are transferring a new scale, smaller or larger. Also, you get a distance where you should make points on the paper. Once your drawing or painting is built up you can pick more reference points to check proportions on artwork. That is super useful if you have many details.

Types of materials used for proportional dividers

Today you can find mostly three types of material, plastic, wood, and metal. Which one you will choose is a personal preference.

Metal proportional dividers are done to last for a long time, higher quality is normal with them.

Be aware that you will have much more weight in your hand, but also much more stability. Sharp tips can also damage your paper, you must give extra precautions in this part. 

Plastic proportional dividers are great, easy to handle but the tip is a sensitive part. If you are not careful they can snap if the divider hits the floor for example.

Wooden dividers are also a great choice, and also have some benefits and downfalls.

They are mostly a little bigger than plastic or metal ones, it can be very clumsy to measure with them.

And by people that use them, they wear down with time. The tip is also not so sharp, but it does the job. Because of the mostly wider design, you will also block your view to the drawing, and transferring.


All mentioned dividers on this list are only the ones with user positive feedback.

If you have doubts about plastic, you can be calm. It is not cheap plastic that snaps with time, or that can’t handle drops.


Yakor Proportional Divider

Sample subtitle

Yarkor is divider with great quality and positive user feedback, it is one of the best proportional dividers. Plastic is durable, it will not snap easily. Design is the same as from the above ones, is on you which you like to choose.

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use
  • Cheap
  • Doesn’t come with a protective case

Pixiss Proportional Divider

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<br>Proportional Divider Artist Drawing Tool for Artists by Pixiss 

Paper, Plastic
Package Dimensions
11.2 x 1.65 x 1.5 inches; 0.28 Ounces
  • Adjustable from 1:1 to 5:1 Scale
  • Durable plastic
  • Comes with step-by-step instructions
  • Doesn’t come with a protective case

Best Wooden Proportional Dividers

Wooden dividers are very popular among artists but as a DIY option. Many artists build their dividers at home, and that is a very easy project to do.

Others maybe don’t’ have options to build one by themself and the only option is to buy one.

Derwent proportional divider


Derwent Scale Divider

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Derwent Scale Divider

Derwent Scales are a must-have for any artist that needs to transfer measurements from photographs, paintings, and more onto paper. It is very easy to use and can be used in different levels of precision.
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use
  • Cheap
  • Durable
  • The tip will not break as is possible with a plastic one
  • They can bend if comes to touch with moisture
  • Precision is not the best

I must be honest with this one, this is a Derwent product but not in the quality range we expect. Finishing is not the best, especially around the holes. 

You can notice that is in size bigger than plastic ones, but that leads to harder manipulation. The price is still great for the product, but Derwent should invest more time in quality.

Happy creating dear friends!