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Painting Problem: Straight Horizons and Lines

From the Painting Problem Solver.

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Painting straight horizons and lines
Image: © 2008 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc
I know from experience I have a tendency to skew my horizons, so before I've gone very far in a painting I use a T-Square to check it. It's just a matter of putting the T-Square on the edge of the canvas, then holding it in place with one hand while with the other I mark where the horizon ought to be.

If the paint is still wet, I scratch a line in it with a painting knife or the handle of a brush. If the paint has dried, I either mark it just with a damp brush (if I'm using acrylics) or with a very thin bit of paint so it doesn't impact on what I'm subsequently going to paint.

It's something that'll work wherever you need a straight line, whether horizontal or vertical. Look for a T-Square that's long enough to extend across most the width of the typical size canvas you use. If you don't have very strong hands, look for a lightweight plastic one.

I use an old wooden one of my Dad's, which is very sturdy. (It has one straight edge and one angled, which I've made idiot-proof by painting the large arrow on it pointing to the straight edge!) I don't stress about getting paint on it (it is just a working tool after all), but at the same time do make a point of wiping the edge after I've used it so it doesn't become uneven from accumulated dried paint.

Buy Direct: Buy Wooden T-Square and Plastic T-Square

See Also:
Knife Painting Tutorial: Rocky Seascape
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