|Masaccio's The Tribute Money is an example of one-point perspective,
where the vanishing point is centered on the head of Christ.
When I was first introduced to the concept of linear perspective, I was fortunate because it wasn’t in a dry, boring geometry lesson but in an art history class, where it was touted as a feat of the High Renaissance and associated with some of the most incredible art and architecture in the world. And while there are complex explanations of how to use three-, two-, and one-point perspective, it all pretty much comes down to one thing: drawing and painting the way the human eye sees the world.
Think of the visual effects you see around you everyday—how train tracks look like they meet in the far distance, but in reality we know they never do. Or look at how the trees and hills in the landscape outside your window always seem to have stronger, warmer colors than objects in the distance, which appear fainter and cooler in color.
|Caillebotte's Jour de pluie à Paris is an example of
two-point perspective, enabling you to see around
the corner of the building in the background.
Being aware of how you see the world can help you become a savvier artist, and there are countless relatively simple “tricks” artists use to create the illusion of space and dimension on a canvas or piece of paper. You draw objects overlapping to make one appear closer than the other. Play with scale so that objects that are supposed to be farther away are painted or drawn smaller in size than those in the foreground. Shadows can create a sense of depth on the picture plane when they are drawn at an angle to the horizon line, leading the viewer’s eye “back” into the painting.
Knowing the basics methods of linear perspective drawing is also key to creating the illusion of distance and space in your artwork. And thankfully, it’s all based on one simple idea—that parallel lines receding from you appear to meet in the distance at a vanishing point or points. Three-point perspective, two-point perspective, and one-point perspective are all built on this approach, and each is named for the number of vanishing points used in the given situation.
For a little more detail and a lot of great examples of artwork that employ these perspective rules, we’ve created our very first free eBook on the subject, Understanding Linear Perspective Drawing: One-Point Perspective, Two-Point Perspective…Plus What Is a Vanishing Point. It’s a starting point to help you understand why linear perspective is useful and how it can lead to a convincing perspective drawing.
For me, it all comes down to remembering that your best bet is to trust yourself and paint what you see. That and a little perspective know-how can make all the difference in your art, so enjoy your free access to Understanding Linear Perspective Drawing: One-Point Perspective, Two-Point Perspective…Plus What Is a Vanishing Point. Download now!