Two Florentine architects, Leon Battista Alberti and Filippo Brunelleschi, first formulated mathematical systems of perspective in the fifteenth century. This enabled the artists of that era and onward to represent a recognizable three-dimensional world on a flat surface. This chapter will teach you some basic rules of one-point perspective.
What Is One-Point Perspective? 74
One-Point Perspective in Everyday Life 76
Determine the Perspective 78
Create a Perspective Grid 8°
The Ellipse in Perspective . ' 81
Draw Tonally in Perspective 82
Gallery: One-Point Perspectives 88
When drawing, the laws of perspective apply to everything that you look at. In one-point perspective, the front of an object is parallel to your plane of vision. This means that the object is directly facing you. There are several examples in this chapter to illustrate this point, beginning with a classic example of train tracks.
This example of one-point perspective shows train tracks disappearing into the distance. You can immediately comprehend this scene as indicative of distance because the train tracks become narrow. The distance between them becomes so small that the tracks appear to meet. This doesn't really happen in life; however, it is what the human eye sees. The point where the tracks appear to meet indicates where the viewer is standing in the scene and is referred to as the vantage point (or viewer point).
When you look at train tracks, you see that the sides of the tracks converge. In perspective rules, the point where the two sides meet is called the vanishing point. The height from the ground to your eyes is called the eye level (or horizon line). Notice that this point is at the exact height of your eyes, neither above nor below them. You look at everything in this world from the height of your own eye level. Everyone has a different eye level except for people who are the same height!
The photo above has a superimposed diagram of black lines to indicate the horizon line or eye level. The vanishing point is where the vantage point and the horizon line meet. The red lines indicate how all of the sides of the buildings, the train tracks, the telephone poles, and any object that is perpendicular to the horizon line converge at the vanishing point. Another way to describe this phenomenon is that all parallel lines converge in the distance at the vanishing point. Notice that the vertical lines remain vertical. ' 74
This is a demonstration of the field of vision (also referred to as the cone of vision). The viewer is positioned in the center of the photograph. His eye level forms the horizon line in the photograph, and he is transparent, so that you are able to see the vanishing point through his head. The vanishing point remains constant as long as he stays in the same position. If he moves to the left or the right, even slightly, the vanishing point changes. His eye level, of course, remains the same, as he cannot change his height.
The figure in profile is the same person of the same height. He is standing on an artificial line on the ground, which is referred to as the ground plane. Notice that as he is placed farther into the distance, he becomes smaller. However, his eye level remains fixed at the horizon line because his eye level is identical to the viewer's eye level.
If you take a strip of wood with the same height as your eye level and place it anywhere—some distance away from you—you will notice that the top of the stick always remains on the horizon line.
Keep an eye open for your own examples of perspective. The more you look for and study these ideas, the more coherent they will become. Try to determine where the vanishing point and the horizon line are in the following examples.
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