Perspective in Drawing


The method by which an artist represents three dimensions on a one dimensional surface (such as paper or canvas).

In other words, it is the Illusion of three dimensions placed on a one dimensional surface to create the illusion of reality.

Objects Closer Versus Further Away . . .

Objects are to be drawn smaller to represent being farther away from the viewer's plane of vision. 

  • An example is when drawing mountains . . . The further away the mountains, the smaller you draw them.
  • Another example is the further away a road recedes, the narrower it becomes.

This point seems obvious with mountains, skies and roads. However it's not quite as obvious with other subjects. 

  • Take for instance trees, they can be of any size even with the smaller ones being in the forefront. In this case where the objects are placed on the paper is essential, (not just their size).

One way is to place the trees behind the ones that are in the forefront.

Place Objects That are Receding Higher on the Paper . . .

  • The farther away a subject matter is, the higher it is to be drawn on the paper to create a three dimensional effect.

Another way to establish which trees are further away is to place them higher up on the paper.

The Human Form  . . .

Foreshortening also establishes three dimensionality (or perspective) in that the more an object is angled away from you, the narrower and higher it is drawn on the paper.

A good practice when drawing the human form, is to have someone sit at an angle from your view. If the person is sitting sideways from your view, you would not draw the legs foreshortened.

However if a person is sitting at an angle toward you, you will draw less of the legs. The more it is angled toward your view, the more foreshortened the legs becomes.

Your view can be foreshortened to the degree where the foot can appear larger than the leg. This is when you need to foreshorten severely to establish three dimensionality and draw the leg smaller and the foot larger than how you actually know that they are.

  • Establishing perspective when drawing the human form takes vigilant translating to paper of only what you see, rather than how you know it to be.

We know more about human bodies than anything else (because we inhabit one), and this knowing gets in our way of drawing the human form correctly. Our brains want to fill in all that we know about the body. It can be difficult to draw the human form just as we see it (not as we know it to be) to create the illusion of three dimensions.

Foreshortening a Circle Creates an Ellipse . . .

An ellipse is a foreshortened (circle) and it is another way to establish perspective.

It is viewed as a "flattened" circle--the more angled it is from your eye level, the more "flattened" it becomes.

draw a cup in perspective

See my how to draw an ellipse for a more expansive tutorial with photos and drawings.

Creating art and crafts builds new neural pathways in your brain and is a great way to keep your noggin healthy. Keep creating for optimal brain health!


~~~Samantha Mariah

Glossary words used on this page . . .



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