Scenes of Everyday Life

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This example is taken from the authors' kitchen. The photographer is standing in front of the island, looking down. Consequently, the eye level of the photographer is above the island.

Note: The eye level does not change, even though he is looking down. (See "Establish Your Eye Level" on page 32.)

Look at the sides of the island. They are converging quite dramatically to a vanishing point, just like the train tracks. The vantage point is located at the height of the eye level of the person who took this photograph. Can you accurately pinpoint the horizon line and the vanishing point? Look at the baskets holding the fruit; the sides of these objects are also converging, as their sides are parallel to the sides of the island. As the baskets move down in the stack, below the eye level of the view, you can see more of the top of each one.

Rule: All parallel lines converge to the same vanishing point.

Here, the rugs on the floor, the top lines of the skylights, and the banister all meet at the same vanishing point because all of these lines are parallel to each other. Can you tell where the vanishing point is? Realizing where the vanishing point is allows you to draw the correct angle on the sides of your objects, making them decrease in size. This gives a sense of three dimensions to your drawings.

In this bathroom, the horizon line is just above the bottom ledge of the window. You can see a small part of the inside of the sink, and a part of the top surface of the small dividing wall on the right. The vanishing point is a little to the left of the sink on the horizon line. Keep this simple rule in mind: Everything that is nearest to you is large, and as objects move away from you, they become smaller.

This is a very dramatic example of one-point perspective. Can you work out where the vanishing point is? Review the photo before you read the answer in the next paragraph.

The eye level of the photographer is a little above the sign on the lamppost in the left foreground of the photo. If the photographer moved to the right, say 15 feet, her eye level/horizon line would remain the same, but the vanishing point would move along the eye level/horizon line, as her position would have changed. The angles of the parallel lines of the building's architectural ornamentation would be less steep, and less dramatically inclined.

The diagrams in this section use cubes to help further explain one-point perspective. The front of the cube is directly facing you, and so you are only dealing with one vanishing point. All of the horizontal sides of the cube are parallel, and the cube is seen from three different eye levels.

The eye level of the viewer is above the cube. Although the top of the cube is visible, notice that you can only see a small portion of it. This means that the eye level is not that far away from the top of the cube. Both sides of the cube, being below eye level, must therefore come up to a vanishing point at eye level.

To better illustrate this point, take a ruler, lay it along the two top sides of the cube, and join those lines together. You now have your vanishing point and the eye level, or horizon line. See how you can create a sense of depth by making parallel lines converge? The vertical lines (front and rear) on the front sides of the cube always remain vertical. This situation is similar to the photograph of the kitchen island; the island is simply a long cube.

Here, the top of the cube is now even more visible than in the previous example. The eye level must therefore be higher. The parallel sides of the top of the cube are again converging to a vanishing point, but they are doing so less abruptly, because there is a greater distance between the eye level, or horizon line, and the top of the cube. As shown in the photo on page 76, the rugs are similar in perspective to the top of this cube.

Where is the horizon line in this example? Is it above or below the cube? It is actually in the middle of the cube. You can see that the top side of the cube is angling down. However, you cannot see the bottom of the cube, as it is obscured by the table. This can occur in everyday life (see the photo of the building on page 77). If this does happen, you can make a well-informed guess about the angle of the line that is obscured, because you now understand the laws of perspective. This knowledge relieves you from unnecessary frustration when drawing. Understand these simple points, and you can spend more time concentrating on the quality of your drawing instead of trying to determine the correct perspective.

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