To create the illusion of the 3rd dimension we need to understand how we see depth so that we can recreate it convincingly. For more than 500 years artists have used a simple process for creating the illusion of depth. That is perspective drawing. 3d games and programs employ this method, but until the 1990s most of this was done by hand by artists, illustrators, architects and mechanical draftsman. It is the most important Key to understanding how to draw convincingly. Through understanding and training in perspective as an artist, your imagination is expanded and you have the knowledge to draw, distort and create anything you want, but I am getting ahead of myself so I will start with the most basic ideas of perspective. Perspective starts with an understanding of a few basic concepts. Let’s have a look at them.
Parallel Lines – In math, you may have been taught parallel lines never meet, but in perspective parallel lines do meet at a vanishing point. Like if you have been on a long stretch of straight road. Far in the distance, the road seems to come to a point. We call that a “vanishing point.”
Vanishing Point – A vanishing point is where parallel lines come together another word for that is “converge.” The vanishing point, for now, will always be on the “horizon line.”
The Horizon line or The Eye Line– This is “the eye line” or other words the height of our eyes off the ground. So if I was lying down looking at the horizon “the eye line” might be 6 inches off the ground. If I was kneeling on the ground my eye line might be around 36″ off the ground and if I was standing “the eye line” why do you keep saying “Eye Line” instead of the “Horizon Line”. Well if I am looking at the horizon where the sky meets the earth my Eye Line and the Horizon Line is the same, but if I was in a forest of tall trees and looked straight up. I wouldn’t see the horizon at all I would see the tops of the trees and the sky no horizon at all. This would be a situation where the Horizon Line and the Eye Line don’t meet up. So we always reference this as our Eye Line because it’s the relationship of our eyes to the object that decides the perspective. Not
Right Angles or Perpendicular Angles – Perspective is all about breaking things down into squares and boxes or cubes. That means we need nice straight corners. Those straight corners are 90 degrees we refer to these types of angles as “Right Angles” or “Perpendicular Angles”, so since we are using boxes or cubes we are always using 90-degree angles.
There are Different Kinds of Perspective
There are different types of perspective depending on how many vanishing points we are using. The most common perspective that is employed by most by the artist is “One Point Perspective” and “Two Point perspective.”
One Point Perspective– This is where all the parallel lines converge at One Point on the Horizon Line/EyeLine. With one point we are seeing most of the front of the cube or box sometimes called the “front face” of the cube. Below are the steps for creating boxes using One Point Perspective.
Two Point Perspective
Two Point Perspective – As the name implies this approach use 2 vanishing points on the Horizon/Eyeline. The reason for this perspective is we are now looking at our box or cube from it’s “corner” and not the ‘front face.” Instead of starting with a rectangle or square. We start with a “straight Line” the “straight line” is the corner’s edge that is facing us. Below is how you develop boxes in perspective.
This gets you familiar with the ideas on one an two-point perspective. If you would like to know more about the steps of creating cubes and boxes visit youtube they have some great in-depth videos on the basic steps of one and two-point perspective. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of great explanations on youtube on how to use the perspective effectively in your drawing.
In my drawing and painting classes, we go in-depth into how to use perspective and unlock its power. If you would like to learn more about how and why to use perspective sign up for a class today.