Having a New Perspective on Perspective

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When you see a beautiful landscape painted so real you feel as though you could walk stright into it, chancees are that it is in perspective. The trees move farther away from you, the road slopes up and disappears on the horizon, yup sounds like perspective alright. But, what is perspective?

Perspective refers to the way we view something. When applied to art, such as perspective drawing, it is a technique used by artists to represt a three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional object or surface. Perspective has the ability to make these painted worlds appear very real as well as to make them incredibly surreal, playing tricks on the mind with optical illusions.

Perspective was discovered long ago and was put into practice during the Renaissance. All the masters applied its theory to their work to give it that realistic feel, to better understand what perspective can truly do for a work of art try looking at Raphael’s School of Athens (One point perspective) or some of M.C. Escher’s work (multi=point perspective).

Do you see the difference between Raphael and Escher’s work? It really has to do with vanishing points, a key component of perspective. You see, in perpective you have a horizon line which is a horizontal line that is parallel to the ground line. On this horizon line you will then have vanishing points. To be a perpective drawing, there must be at least one vanishing point may there may be many. All lines in your picture which are not parallel to the ground line or perpendicular to it, will point, or connect to the vanishing point.

To practice simple one-point perspective, draw a horizontal line. Now, place a dot somewhere on that line. Now, below that line, a square. Connect the corners of the square to the point you drew. Draw a vertical line between to of the lines connecting to the vanishing point to create the side of the square. From that vertical draw a horizontal line to the other line (the one going from the far corner to the vanishing point). You now have a cube drawn in perspective! Congratulations, you are well on your way to becoming a master.

There are many books and websites which can help you truly master the technique of perspective, but I hope you can now see that it really is not that difficult. Perspective can help anyone to create realistic works of art with a little patience and a lot of practice.


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