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Waht is perspective?


Perspective is essentially about having the vision lines in a drawing or painting right. It is about having horizon lines and vanishing points in the right places and it can be quite complicated. I won't pretend to know a lot about this because I don't. I probably would avoid even focussing too much on perspective in most of my paintings too.

For the moment all I would like to do is help you to ‘see' what perspective is. Head outside to a quiet straight flat country road sketchbook and a ruler. Stand in the middle of the road and look dead ahead. Notice as you do the road gets narrow. In fact, it narrows to a point at which it meets the horizon. Now look to the side of the road. Is it tree lined? Are there power poles? Is there a fence? Notice now the visual size of the trees, poles and or fence posts near you. Look ahead. Notice the VISUAL size of them further away. They are smaller, and if we could draw a series of lines across the top of them they would all meet at the same place the road does…the vanishing point. Thus, the vanishing point is central to the lines and establishing the perspective of an image.

Ok…let's try and draw this. Draw a rectangle. Place vertical and a horizontal line through the middle. The place where they meet is in this case the vanishing point…the point where all lines meet. Your horizontal line is your horizon. Above it is sky and below it is the ground. Now mark a line that travels from the vanishing point to one inch on the left and on inch on the right of the centre line over the ground area. You have now marked a triangle that is long and narrow. Shade this in. This is the road. Add another line to either side of the road. This line could be marking the top height of the trees, power poles or fences. It must intersect with the same point in the middle – the vanishing point. When you look at a painting that is mindful of perspective, you should be able to ‘see' these lines.



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PJ Campbell