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A grid for drawing regular shapes

Other Pictures, Problems and Procedures

What's the grid for?

For instance, it will help you to draw a hexagon, a five pointed star, twenty-four evenly spaced spokes for a wheel, or a clockface with the numbers nicely spaced.

8 by 8_gridA grid for drawing a shape accurately is a bit like a piece of graph paper. It helps you to get proportions right, without measuring angles and lines. That's especially useful in Paint, where the only angle offered is 45°.

It's dead easy to make this sort of grid. It's all done with copy and paste, so there's no measuring involved. You make it to dimensions of your own choice, and if you save it separately you can use it over and over again. Even though the making is pretty easy, why bother to repeat something you've already done?

If you would like to work in Paint while you follow these instructions, do remember that you can resize your browserA Browser is the program you use to visit sites on the Internet. Internet Explorer (IE) may be the browser that you use, but there are many others, such as Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome, K-Meleon and Blackbird.
You can have as many browsers as you like, and run more than one at the same time.
window. Just hover your cursor over a side edge of the browser window until a double-headed arrow appears, press your left mouse button and drag left or right until the window is a suitable size.

You can then grab the browser window by the title bar and drag it to the position that you want it in. You can do this with almost any window on your computer.

Open workspace.bmp or workspace.gif. If you haven't made that yet, please read Your workspace file. The infomation there is important, and will make all the difference to easy working. You only need to set up the workspace once and you're all set.


You don't have to use my suggested size. Size doesn't matter one bit. Working on a grid is just about proportions, relationships, ratios, that sort of thing.

Obviously, though, the size of the squares in your grid determines the size of whatever shape you draw on it. Tiny squares yield tiny pictures. I think that it's a bit easier to work with something smallish while you're getting used to making a certain shape.   top

Draw one square

start with one squareWhen you open Paint, the line thickness is set to one pixel, which is what you want.

Choose a strong color—I've used red.

Click on the Rectangle tool, and leave it set at the top option: outline with no fill.

size of square shown incorrectly on status barHold the Shift key and draw one small square—somewhere between 20 by 20 and 30 by 30. The size of your square will be shown on the far right of the status bar, changing as you drag—but it's one too many!

That is, if the status bar reads 34x34, your square is actually 33x33. This is annoying, because often it's important to have a square based on an odd number. moreIf you don't believe me—and why should you, because it sounds ridiculous—draw a square and note what the status bar says, then click on the rectangular selection tool and very carefully select the square, starting exactly on its upper left corner and finishing exactly on the lower right corner. What does the status bar say? Convinced?

I made a square 19 by 19, which showed on the status bar as 20x20.   top

Copy the square

  1. Copy the squareZoom in. Click on the Rectangular Selection tool.
  2. Click on the transparency icon.
  3. Drag a rectangle around the red square.
  4. Hold the Ctrl key and drag a copy.
  5. Position the copy exactly beside the original, so that you see only one line between the two squares, as in the drawing on the left below.
  6. If it looks like the drawing on the right, with a double line between the two squares, release the Ctrl key and move it in more closely.
  7. Click away from the copy.

It should look like this       Wrong   top

Copy the double square

  1. Copy the double squareDraw a selection rectangle around the double square, hold the Ctrl key and drag a copy downwards.
  2. Position the copy as shown. Again, you should see only one line between the top pair and the bottom pair.
  3. Let go of the Ctrl key while you wiggle the copy into position.
  4. Click away.
  5. Draw a selection rectangle around the four squares, hold the Ctrl key as you begin to drag a copy to the right.
  6. Select this block of eight squares and drag a copy down.

eight squaressixteen squares

You now have a block of sixteen squares—four across and four down.

This is a useful size. It's the the grid you'll need for drawing a hexagon or a six-pointed star, so stop for a moment and save the block separately.   top


Save the block of 16 squares

rectangular selectionClick on the Rectangular Selection tool and draw a selection around the grid you've just made. Leave just a tiny bit of white around the edges—maybe three pixels. (It's fine to have a wider border, but there are no advantages.)

4 by 4 gridGo up to the Menu Bar and click on Edit.

Click on Copy To

In the Save dialogue that appears, type "grid16" as the name for this grid.

(If you're planning to make two or more grids of 16 squares, building from squares of different sizes, you'll need to add this information to the file name—grid16_tiny, grid16_medium, for instance. )

Click Save.

You'll be returned to Paint.

Using the block of 16 squares

You'll want to use this grid several times. When you want to use it, with workspace (bmp or gif) open in Paint, click on the Edit menu. Click Paste From, navigate to grid16, click on it and click Open. A copy of the grid will appear in the top left hand corner of your Paint page, leaving your original unchanged for later use.

Make the grid bigger

8 by 8_gridCopy the grid two more times, once down and once across, so that you now have a block of 64 squares.   top

Save the larger block

Again, draw a selection rectangle around the block of squares.

In the Save dialogue that appears, type "grid64" as the name for this larger block of squares. Click Save.

The grid you've just made is big enough (has enough squares) for some of the trickier shapes you can make. When you want to use it, open Paint and click on the Edit menu. Click Paste From, navigate to grid64, click on it and click Open. This will bring a copy into Paint but will leave your original unchanged.

Clean your workspace

After you've copied and saved the picture, have a quick look around your workspace to make sure there's nothing else you want to copy and save. If there is something, copy and save it now, using the same Copy To procedure.


Make sure that you have white as your background color.

Go to the Edit menu and click Select All.

Hit the Delete key.

Go to the File menu and click Save.

Close Paint.

Decorative grids

By the way, you can use similar steps to make all sorts of interesting and decorative patterns and borders, although that's another story. Here are a couple of examples.

I'm sure you can see that just one small picture was made and then copy/pasted repeatedly to make both black and white borders and colored all-over patterns.

borders gift packages


Other Pictures, Problems and Procedures



Questions or comments? I'd love to hear from you, especially if you have helpful suggestions regarding any one of this set of pages. They were begun in response to some reader questions and I've arrived at solutions through trial and error. As I went over the exercises and tried to follow my own instructions, I several times saw a quicker or easier way to do something and it's likely that readers may still see some better solutions.
My email address is here.

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