Have you ever wondered how to enlarge a sketch or photo without having a projector? Well there’s a simple technique artists have used for centuries. Low tech and do-able! 

In today’s tutorial I’ll show  you a simple way to do it – with the help of a website that I wish was around when I was in college! Plus the large piece today is also in honor of the great Miles Davis for #blackhistorymonth .



A SPECIAL REQUEST WHILE WATCHING THIS VIDEO: Open a new browser tab on your computer and open THIS link. If on a smart device, go grab another device to open the link. It’s a Miles Davis album, and it’s a great backdrop for my video!

Tutorial: How to enlarge a sketch or photo

In the first portion of the video, I’ll demo a sketchbook-sized sample of freehand and grid method enlargement; then a little look at how I used the technique for a large art piece.

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Step by step

The freehand method is to draw a loose “box” around the object, divide it into a few sections that make sense, no measuring – but use those blocks to sketch in shapes. It’s similar to what many artists do in breaking objects down into shapes – loose and blocky, then build in detail.

For the grid method, the grids need to have the same number of blocks. NOT measurements that “match” in an easy mathematical way. 

  1. Starting with the photo reference, upload it to Add a Grid, and create the grid atop the reference.
  2. Change the color to black (000) or white (fff) depending on the colors in the photo.
  3. Change the thickness of the lines as desired.
  4. Change the number of squares to one that’ll be replicated in the larger piece.


  1. Start with the finished piece and draw a grid on it. Whatever the number of blocks (evenly spaced both horizontally and vertical), change the grid to match that number of blocks.


  1. To transfer the drawing, label one side with numbers, one with letters, on both the reference and drawing. (I write it on the tape).
  2. You can approach it square by square, looking at what lines and shapes appear in that square only, and move methodically across the page.
  3. OR you can approach it by elements, as I did. Look for the beginning and ending of a line, or the top/bottom/left/right of a shape. 
  4. Draw in as much detail as needed, then ink/color as desired.

Both of these were colored with Sketchmarkers.

Miles Davis Portrait

This large piece took about three 12-hour days. Or maybe more, it sure felt like it! Lots of stippling, some line work, and thankfully a big old brush for the black areas—although the paper didn’t like the wet ink much!


I’m determined to get this large paper used up – pads and pads of 19″ x 24″ bristol that I hoarded since college! Some pads got yellowed so they’ll be paper to keep tables or counters clean when I do messy things, and some are just a little warpy after all these years. But I’m determined to USE it!

My recommendation: try this now.

Go make a tiny photo into a small sketch – and use the website to add a grid. Leave your grid drawn in the sketchbook, and tape that picture in it. Some day you’ll thank me for telling you to do this, making notes, writing down the title of my video, so you can go find it again if you need it someday!


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  1. LaSaundra Norman

    Thank you so much for acknowledging black history month! I will attempt this project soon! Yours is beautiful!

    • Sandy Allnock

      It’s one of my favorite seasons….gimme more diversity in this world! 🙂

  2. Gab

    Just amazing


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