Sketching Drawing – What Determines Perspective?

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Perspective in Art is a subject that has been studied, written about, and debated since it was first codified. Although you could study the theoretical aspects of perspective it really isn’t necessary for successful drawing (Phew, that’s a relief!). However, for the budding artist there is one crucial aspect of perspective that must be grasped…

The crucial thing to know…

Is to forget all the theory and books on perspective, they are not necessary! What is necessary is that you fully grasp what controls the perspective in a scene and how you can reproduce that perspective in your drawings. Listen carefully…

Perspective is controlled only by viewpoint!

Did you get that? If not, read that sentence again. Nothing else affects the perspective in a scene.

Perspective and viewpoint

Let us assume that you have a scene in front of you. Now, without moving your head, close one eye and observe the shapes, angles of lines, and relationships between objects in the scene. This is the perspective from this single viewpoint (the position of your open eye). Now move yourself 4 or 5 paces to the left or right and look again at the scene. Note the changes that will have taken place: the angles of lines will have changed, the relative positions of the objects will have changed, etc. You are now viewing the scene from a new viewpoint and you are seeing a new perspective. The perspective you see from the second position is totally different from that of the first position.

Les’ perspective game

Try this little game, close one hand into a fist and extend your first finger. Point this finger upwards and hold it about 6 inches (15cms) directly in front of one eye. Close the other eye; we only want one eye open. Now use your other hand, with a finger pointing upward, held at arms length and lined up behind the other hand so that you cannot see the distant finger at all (it should be hidden behind the finger close to your eye). You are seeing a perspective where the finger close to your viewpoint, your open eye, is hiding the other finger. Now, without moving your head, simply close the open eye and open the closed eye (change which eye is open). You should experience a dramatic change in the perspective between the two fingers you are seeing. Flip back and forth between eyes to see how the scene changes with even this small change in viewpoint!

Once you have trained your ‘Artists Eye’ to be aware of perspective and how it changes when your viewpoint moves, you will begin to really appreciate the subtleties to be found in even the simplest of scenes of subjects.

Find out more about how you can easily learn the skills needed to draw with me:Sketching Drawing – What determines perspective?

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