The Horizon Line

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The objects on this table are below the horizon line. The horizon line (eye level of the viewer) is the level where all of the sides or lines of the objects that are perpendicular to the viewer converge. Judge accurately, with your eye, the level of your horizon line and place a mark on the wall behind the still life. It is good to place a mark somewhere, so that you do not become confused and forget where it is. You can also mark your eye level on a stick and place the stick next to your setup, so that it is always clearly visible. This is useful when working outdoors in a landscape where the horizon line is obscured. You can place the stick vertically against a structure, up against a tree, or allow for an extra 6 inches at the bottom and stick it into the ground.

Eye Level

Create your vanishing point by holding up a ruler along the side of any object that is perpendicular to you. If you continue the line of trajectory, it meets the horizon line. If you do this to the other side of the same object, then you will find that this line meets the other line of the object on the horizon line. You have now established your vanishing point.

You can attach a board behind your drawing, as shown here, to indicate the eye level. The eye level is measured here using a scale that is the size of the central pot. The eye level is about two pots high from the surface of the table. Map out your drawing with light lines. Remember to measure (refer to page 44) and draw in your converging lines if you need to, but keep them light!

Viewer or Vantage Point

Establish more of your drawing by adding other objects to practice ellipses. Add some differently shaped objects that have curves. Add objects of different sizes to add interest to your arrangement. For this image, the artist has added some of the objects that he loves to draw and paint: a small bowl, a small glass bottle, and his favorite large pot. To help you to find the curvature of round objects, see "Find the Angles" in Chapter 4.


In the initial stages of learning perspective, it may be useful to draw out the subject with lines fairly extensively, before you begin to shade or erase. In this manner, you can concentrate on the tonal aspects of the drawing without having to worry about problems of perspective. Before the artist began to shade, he "keyed" his drawing by indicating the lightest light and the darkest dark. See "Key Your Drawing" in Chapter 5 for more information.

After the artist established keying and perspective, he could begin to give the subject form and space by rendering it in light and shadow—that is, he could develop the tonal relationships of his subject. The artist kept all of the tones very soft here, because he wanted to be able to judge the whole drawing before he defined his shapes.

Note: Remember to develop the entire drawing together, working from large shapes to small shapes. Don't forget to squint (see page 58); it helps you to judge your tonal relationships without the influence of insignificant (at this stage) details.


Build Your Tones Gradually

Try not to get too dark too fast, especially when working with graphite. Otherwise, if you want to lighten an area, you may find it difficult to erase.

With the removal of several large shapes of light and the addition of the darker areas, the drawing begins to look more three-dimensional. The artist has sharpened up the shapes of tone by giving everything more definition. With careful observation of the tones that you see in front of you and careful decisions about what tones you place where in your drawing, you can also capture the quality of your light and create depth in your drawing.

The tone of the paper can serve as the half tones in your scale of value (see "The Half Tones" on page 62). Continue to develop the areas that are darker than the tone on your toned paper. The objects will take on a greater sense of form and weight as the darker tones are added to your drawing. The darkest and lightest tones generally occur in those areas that are closest to you, thereby forming the greatest contrast. These highly contrasted areas create the illusion of objects coming forward, and those areas with the least contrast tend to recede.

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  • June
    How to draw items on a table with horizon lines?
    8 years ago
  • fraser
    How to Draw Ellipses Freehand/images fro horizon line?
    3 years ago
  • ulla
    How to draw a title gradually coming forward?
    6 months ago

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