Simple Perspective

Using perspective in landscape drawing can be perplexing and challenging, but perspective is one of those important elements of picture-making that makes your picture believable. Here, we will talk about simple one- and two-point perspective.

Where your eye meets the horizon is called the eye level or horizon line. That imaginary line is a straight, horizontal line. The horizon line will naturally change as you lower or elevate your viewpoint. If you elevate your view point, you will be looking down at the horizon line. This is called above eye level or bird's-eye view. If you are below the horizon line, it's called below eye level, or worm's-eye view. The horizon line or eye level, once established, does not change. There can be only one horizon line in any one picture.

Somewhere along that horizon line is the vanishing point, an imaginary point where parallel lines eventually meet. When you look at railroad tracks, you notice that in the distance the tracks seem to converge at one point. That is the vanishing point. Sketches A, B and C illustrate this simple one-point perspective.

In two-point perspective, two sets of parallel lines go to two vanishing points (see the diagram on the next page). This is important to remember when you are including houses and barns in your landscape, because not every barn or house will be situated with its front plane parallel to your view or picture plane, as in one-point perspective.

One Point Perspective Open Box

One-Point Perspective

In the diagram at right, all parallel lines at an angle to the frontal plane converge to one point —VP —the vanishing point. The bench and open box are below eye level, so you see inside the box and the top of the bench. If they were moved closer to the VP, you would see less of the inside of the box and less of the bench seat.

Drawing B shows a plowed field. Like railroad tracks, the furrows recede to one point along the horizon line, which is the vanishing point.

In drawing C, a meandering stream diminishes in width as it reaches the horizon line, and disappears into a field or valley beyond. That point on the horizon line is the VP.

Field Perspective Drawing

Two-Point Perspective

Because the old barn and shed are situated at an angle to the artist's viewpoint, the front and side of each building have their own vanishing points. That means all parallel lines on each plane converge to their own vanishing point, one to the right, and one to the left, as shown in the diagram above.

Once you decide on your horizon line or eye level and your vanishing points, the remainder, like roof angles, clapboard, windows and doors, will all fall into their rightful place. For a better understanding, lay a piece of tracing paper over the finished drawing below and trace the lines to their respective vanishing points.

Graphite Pencil Forground Flowers

Road Side, 11" x 14", graphite pencil on 2-ply Strathmore bristol,

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