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Lesson 3: Understanding and Using Perspective


Perspective is a fundamental concept of drawing and of art. You need to think about and understand this concept in order for your drawing ability to advance beyond the beginner stage. The good news is that it really isn't hard to understand the basic principles of it.


As an artist you have total control over the perspective of your drawing but there are things you should do to make sure your drawings look right. When people look at your artwork they will understand it easily if you manage the perspective properly.

A definition of Perspective: Perspective is the way things are viewed relative to each other and relative to your eye.

Let's take a closer look at perspective.

Drawings are simply lines, shapes, colors and shades on paper. It is a two-dimensional representation of three dimensional objects. But you can fool a persons eye into seeing more than just a flat image on the paper you can give them the sense of three dimensions. This is what happens in drawings and in photographs. And one of the tools that you as an artist has to do this trick of the eye is "Perspective"

Here is a drawing of a fireplace. take a look at it.

drawing of a fireplace to show the concept of perspective

You look at it and your mind understands that it is a three-dimensional object. You can sense that it fills space and you don't just see it as a bunch of lines in two dimensions. Your brain assembles it into an object that you recognize. You even can place the mirror as being on the wall behind the fireplace even though I show no hints of a wall.

Now here is an interesting thing about perspective. It is all about understanding how to trick the eye, and you as an artist can do this. It takes practice but you will get good at this. Let me give you an example of this trickery. Look at lines "A" and "B". Which one is longer? Your natural reaction would be to say that line A is longer than B. But in reality if you measure these on paper they are exactly the same length! Try it! Get a ruler or just use a pencil as a guide and measure both sides A and B.

This is quite a fascinating little thing that is going on here. Your brain insists that line A is longer than line B yet they are the same length. After all you can see that it extends farther back into the picture and your mind recognizes the fact that a fireplace is much wider than it is deep so the illusion is maintained and the picture looks accurate. It is a good drawing of a fireplace.

As you practice drawing you will get real good at understanding and using perspective in your drawings so they look "right:". Now we will continue on with some practical examples of how to get the perspective right in your drawings. And you will now do some drawings.

Continue on with the lesson on perspective

Perspective Made Easy - Dover Art Instruction

Perspective, the author tells us, is easy; yet surprisingly few artists are aware of the simple rules that make it so. This easy-to-follow book - the first devoted entirely to clarifying the laws of perspective - remedies the situation. In it, the author uses over 250 simple line drawings to illustrate the concepts involved.



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