Perspective In Art

There are basically two different forms of perspective in art that you need to concern yourself with. One is aerial or atmospheric and the other is linear perspective.

Aerial Perspective

With aerial perspective; due to the atmosphere that we have to look through, the tone and colors of what we see will change.

As the distance gets greater,

  • the colors become grayed
  • the colors of objects will appear cooler
  • colors, including shadows, will become lighter in value
  • we will have less contrast
  • and shapes will become less distinct.

In the foreground you will note that we will have,

  • higher contrast with well defined shadows
  • sharp and well defined edges
  • darker dark’s and lighter lights
  • warmer and brighter colors.

Linear Perspective

Linear perspective helps us to define proportions, the sizes of objects in there relationship to each other, distances and dimensions. It also adds interest to a painting.

In most pictorial art, you will be dealing with one, two and three point perspective. You could get more involved with this using many vanishing points. If you wish to study the subject of perspective in art, then I suggest that you browse the internet or your local library.

So, let us begin. If you are facing something dead center and straight on, (a building or house for instance), you will notice that the vertical and horizontal lines are parallel and at right angles to each other. Also, you probably not see the sides, top or bottom. There would be no perspective. This makes for a very dull composition.

Single Point Perspective

With single point perspective, we will have one vanishing point on the horizon line. And let me point out that the horizon line is always at eye level. Placing the horizon line high gives us a birds eye view. Placing the horizon line low gives us a worms eye view. A low horizon line can be used to dramatize the sky or emphasize the size of a structure.


Two Point Perspective

With two point perspective, we will have two vanishing points on the horizon line. These will be on each side of the composition, but not necessarily at equal distances from the objects. Actually, one or both may be off the composition. All vertical lines will be perpendicular and parallel with each other. The horizontal lines will recede to each of the two vanishing points on the horizon line.

One thing you will notice about vanishing points. The closer you are to a subject, the closer will be the vanishing points. As you step back from the subject matter, the vanishing points will get farther apart.

You might also consider a third vanishing point which may be off the horizon line and in the sky.

  • This would most likely be used to somewhat accurately depict the slanted roof lines of a house. For most of your painting experiences, one, two and three point perspective will do.


How To Find The Center of a Side

Suppose you are drawing or painting a house in perspective that has a peaked roof centered over one end or side.  The nearest half will be slightly larger than the other half. To find the center, you will draw the side as a cube or rectangle in perspective. Then draw diagonal lines from the four corners. The center will be where they intersect. Draw a vertical line on this and place the peak at the appropriate height. Refer to the last image above.

You should really develop a good understanding of perspective in art, so that you can create much better paintings.

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