Divide Any Area into Any Number of Columns

Week 3 of Hurm.com's 10 Year anniversary celebration starts off with an art guide! Years ago, I learned how to use a ruler to divide my comic pages or strips into a variety of evenly-spaced columns. This guide explains how you can do the same.

Let's say your drawing area is 4 inches wide by 3 inches tall. As you begin working, you realize that the area needs to be divided into a certain number of columns. Some divisions would be simple; using your ruler to split the area into 2 or 4 columns would be easy. But what if you need to divide your area by 5 columns? Or 7? Or 11? Here's how you can easily divide your page or panel into any number of columns.

  1. Let's start with that 4 x 3 drawing area.

    image: blank drawing area

  2. Starting off simple, the picture below shows how I use my ruler to divide such an area into 4 columns.

    image: ruler measuring out 4 columns

  3. But now we need to divide that same width by 5 even columns. I start by lining up the left edge of my ruler with the left edge of the area. Then, I start rotating my ruler until the right edge of the area lines up a number on my ruler that is easily divisible by 5—in this case, 5 inches.

    image: ruler measuring 5 inches

  4. Now that my zero point is on the left edge and 5 inches is on the right edge, I make tick marks at 1 inch, 2 inches, 3 inches, and 4 inches.

    image: 5 column tick marks

  5. Then I draw vertical lines at each tick mark. Done!

    image: 5 finished columns

  6. Now that we have the basics down, we can use the same principles to divide other areas into more columns.

    image: ruler over 7 finished columns

    image: ruler over 11 finished columns

  7. We can also use the same concepts to create uneven grids. For example, maybe you want the first column to be 3 parts wide, a second column to be 1 part wide, and the last column to be 2 parts wide. That ads up to 6 parts. For this, I would make six tick marks . . .

    image: 6 tick marks

  8. . . . but only make column lines at the third tick mark from the left (establishing the first column to its left) and fourth tick mark from the left (establishing the second column to its left and last column to its right).

    image: 3 odd columns

I use this technique most often when dividing up a comic book page or comic strip into panels. And now you can, too!

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