Concise ART-icles

Written and Illustrated by: Ann B.S.

Understanding Basic Perspective in One Seating

Oct 18, 2019

A camera is a perfect replica of the human eye in capturing an image. Since its invention, our viewing experience was never the same. It evolved and helped us explore better.

Our eyes can see depth and solidity. In computer lingo, let us call it 3D (3-dimensional) view. In a more technical way of explaining elevation: in the x-y plane, the face of an object that lies flat on these axes are considered 2D (2-dimensional). CAD (computer aided design) users are full of it. A flat representation of one side of a solid object is called an ELEVATION. Where is Z? From the drawing below, Z is pointing towards you. 

2-dimensional Side Elevation

We cannot see objects as ELEVATION in real world. The certain amount of distortion our eyes can perceive is PERSPECTIVE. If you are walking or driving on a road, the two parallel curbs converge into a certain point. The point where these parallel lines meet is the vanishing point (VP). Below is an example of 1-point Perspective.

The horizon line lies at the eye level, while the VANISHING POINT lies anywhere in the horizon where the two lines converge. [From personal photos]

The vanishing points could be found at the horizon. And the horizon is always at a person’s eye level. When you sit of stand or go to an apex of a building, the horizon remains at the level. The point where the person stands is called as the station point. OBSERVE the figure above. 

A picture with 2-point perspective showing the 2 Vanishing Points (VP) and the horizon line. [From personal photos] 
[From personal photos]  

Above image: The scene have 3 or more vanishing points. The 3rd vanishing point could be located by drawing a straight line perpendicular to the x-horizon line. The vanishing points could be multiple. This is also common in aerial views.

Anyone who wants to play geek with perspective must find the easiest means to integrate it in an illustration, otherwise, it will eat up a lot of time. And there are techniques, to be posted in the future...


Now, knowing that Perspective is totally cool but structured. Applying it manually involves setting up a large sheet of paper, generous space and meticulous checking of accurate construction lines, otherwise, the drawing will surely look lopsided and imprecise.  Lines might miss the point. 

The most practical way of creating drawing in perfect perspective is by standing at a picture glass window seeing the surrounding as is. Assume you are looking at a landscape scenery framed by the window opening. If you try to trace what you exactly see and draw on the glass itself, the drawing will surely be at an accurate delineation. 

A more technical interpretation of perspective drawing application is shown if done on a drafting table. The drawing is 2-point perspective, with 2 vanishing points. 

You can try copying the illustration (below) by setting up about 15"x 20" tracing sheet or plain paper on a table, tape it and get your rulers or T-square. No need to scale the measurements of plan if you want it fast, but make sure it fits the paper. 

To achieve two-point perspective, the plan view has been laid at 30 degrees (right side) and 60 degree (left side). Meanwhile, the side elevation is necessary to complete the plot. The station point can be adjusted, which would change how the finished perspective looks, the moment it is projected from the line bisecting the plan. 

If the plan and elevation are both scaled, the more proportional and meaningful the resulting perspective would be. 

Doing this drafting method of perspective drawing is old-school. 3d soft swept off this linear method.

This shall be expounded soon under the future topic: Digital Drawing.

Drafting of Perspective Drawing (student exercise)


Going back to my objective of giving a general idea on solid drawings. All you have to do is apply it in practical freehand drawing. It is mandatory for all artists to expand their capability especially when drawing massed objects with distance. 

There are several techniques you can do to at least enhance a drawing and make it appear proportional and balance. 

Draw in a box.

Yes, why not try to put drawings in solid cubes? Assume your cubes are in the right perspective, anyhting you put inside it will automatically have perspective. 

Centering techniques:

If you are conspicuous about the symmetry of your drawing, try this: Draw an x to find the center of a plane. Project all the X that you need to find centers.

See image here. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 

Finding the center of an object by drawing "x"

Eye level @ horizon

In drawing a crowd, notice that all the eyes fall at a common eye level. Just adjust the proportion of the head depending where each stands. They appear far, yet all eyes are aligned to the horizon for this set-up. See the figure below:


While perspective drawing is linear and more applicable in drafting, serious exploration of drawing pretty much demands it, especially on backdrops or background. Understanding it will give visual logic to a drawing. Everything about solidity, surface bump, increment of distance are all part of knowing perspective. One must see through and draw what is actually seen and NOT what one mistakenly thinks it looks like. 

Having a strong foundation on PERSPECTIVE will help you realize natural distortions that we see: the parallel lines converge, the gradation of colors by distance -- highlights, shadows and angles. As the object gets far from the line of sight, it becomes smaller until it appears insignificant. The color becomes lighter and the outlines indistinct. 

Be easy with yourself on this!