Thoughts on… Perspective

We touched on perspective in the Cowes Library Drawing Group last week. Just touched on it. You can research thousands of articles and review mathematical equations to help you with the depth, width and height of objects in the drawing, or you can ask yourself the following question to get you thinking about it.

 “I’m trying to draw things that are near and far from where I am, and I need to think about how I can represent that on this flat piece of paper”…

Artists use two types of perspective to help solve that problem: Linear perspective and Atmospheric perspective.

Linear perspective

We notice that horizontal lines converge at a point in the distance (the horizon). Where those lines meet is called ‘the vanishing point’. We can think about that when we place objects on our paper.

We can draw objects that are nearer to us lower down on our paper. And we can draw objects that are further away slightly smaller and higher up.

We can draw objects in front of, and behind each other.

We can think about our eye-line and how we might look straight at one object, but look down on another and look up at a different one, all in the same drawing.

I’ve added a couple of drawings. One is of a house seen from different angles, with the lines of the walls converging to a vanishing point.


I’ve also looked at circles and ellipses (a mainstay of many still-life compositions) and how they get narrower and wider depending on your eye line.

Perspective 2


Atmospheric perspective

Atmospheric perspective refers to the effect that the atmosphere has on objects that are far away from where we are. This is less evident in still-life drawings, but you can see different techniques that artists employ in their landscape work.

In order to create distance and depth in a landscape, see how artists lighten areas as they recede, or draw them less clearly. The foreground of the picture (lower down on the paper, at the front) may be crisp, bold and dark. But the areas further away (higher up the paper, and behind the foreground) may be lighter in tone and softer to give that illusion of depth on a flat surface.

I’ve included a couple of photographs from my Island life to illustrate ‘atmospheric perspective’. The first is from the round the Island Race and the second is the Canola fields in bloom.

Atmospheric perspective 2Atmospheric perspective

If you’d like to see more on perspective, examples, tutorials and tips you can follow our Cowes Library Drawing Group Pinterest board here

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