We are all familiar with the experience of looking at a blank canvas or paper when starting a picture. What if you could turn that flat, blank working area into a window to a vast three-dimensional space? Can you imagine yourself pushing mountains back farther, changing the bend of a river or constructing buildings in such a space? The key to opening the window to that space is an understanding of linear perspective and the application of its principles.
Atmospheric, or aerial, perspective adds depth by having
things become lighter and losing detail the farther they
are from the viewer.
One point perspective is the simplest form of linear
perspective. The blue line indicates the horizon line.
The red lines show how all the diagonals radiate from
a single vanishing point.
Perspective is about seeing.
The principles of perspective are simply guidelines that enable us to create the illusion of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional working area.
However, please don't mention anything about illusions to me after I've been working a few hours. By then, I usually feel like I've been walking down the streets, passing the people and dodging the traffic that I have been drawing. Working with perspective can have that effect on you. At times, you feel as if you have stepped right into your picture. I don't think of myself as an expert on perspective. I've just been working with it for so long that I know how powerful it can be.
Ernest Watson, artist and author, was a wonderful teacher. Watson put it this way. " When a sketcher learns to think of distance—not the surface of the paper—to feel the depth instead of merely thinking about it, he shall have experienced a sensory conversation." He goes on to state, "…with practice in drawing objects, the paper's surface magically disappears—it becomes limitless in depth as all outdoors."
Perspective can be learned easily.
There is no voodoo. The basic guidelines are fairly simple and you can start applying them to your work immediately. Keep in mind that the principles of perspective are not an end in themselves. They must be applied. With their application, you gain a better sensitivity to space, size and color—no matter what your style or manner of drawing and painting may be.