Many people who learn to draw and paint think perspective drawing involves lots of technical skill and hours of practice.
Yet it's not as complicated as you may think.
If you understand that drawing anything involves just five basic shapes then perspective drawing is only a means of stretching these shapes a slightly different way.
Follow the simple steps in this tutorial to get the basics right and you'll be producing correctly proportioned drawings and paintings in no time at all.
The main point you need to remember is that things appear smaller the further they are away.
However, if you have two identical items, such as lamp posts on the railway platform in the picture (above-right) for instance, you know they are in reality the same size, even though the nearer one looks bigger...
Equally, a house wall viewed from the front is normally the same height at both ends. If it wasn't it would look pretty unusual and the roof would probably slide off one end!
Yet when we draw it as a 'perspective drawing', i.e. in a three-dimensional way, the far end slopes away from us and we accept this as quite normal. Why?
Because we're seeing it 'in perspective'. And that's all a perspective drawing is. It's how you see things which will always be a little bit different from me or anyone else.
Look at the two sketches of the four different figures below. In the first, imagine they are all looking directly at spot on the brick wall on the left directly in line with the height of their eyes from the ground.
Imagine also that they're so focussed on this one brick that they can't see anything else either side or above or below it.
I've shaded the 4 bricks in the wall that each one is looking at.
They're all different because each figure is at a different height so they're seeing different things. Each sees a different brick.
In the next sketch they are all looking at the same brick. But what has happened?
They all see the same brick from a different angle, so it will appear to each of them to be a slightly different shape.
In one case a figure is looking down at the brick, another one is looking straight at it, whilst the other two are looking up at it.
If you're not sure about this, think of watching a ball game or a game of soccer from the back of the top tier of the stands.
Then watch the same game from pitchside. You get a totally different view - or..... perspective!
Now let's look at the three sketches of a house. Each one is slightly different. We're looking at it from a different angle so the first is the proverbial worm's eye view.
The second has your eye level set on the centre of the house, as if you were standing up.
However as your eye level moves to the top of the house in the third view you are looking down as if you were at an upper window opposite.
n the three sketches, it's as if you're on an extendable ladder as you see the same building from three different points. Yet all we've done is adjusted your EYE LEVEL.
So HOW DO we adjust it?
The two points on either side of the building where all the construction lines meet are called the Vanishing Points (VP) - a theoretical point where all these lines join up and 'vanish'.
Now here's the simple but clever bit...
Draw the horizontal lines of your building, ie: the roofline, the top of the door and top and bottom of the windows on these construction lines.
Put them in heavier than the construction lines as in the sketches.
Then draw the sides of the building, door and windows vertically. You'll find you have the whole house as a perfect perspective drawing! This is one exercise where I'd really encourage you to use a ruler, 'till you get the hang of it.
There can be as many of these lines as you need. You decide.
The important thing is that all the thick lines should be on the feint construction lines, or the perspective drawing will look wrong.
And make sure they all start from the same Vanishing Points, like mine.
Now look at the examples below. All it is is a couple of large 'S' shapes that merge on the horizon line.
Notice the more you show of the road (or the deeper your 'S' is), it suggests you are some way above it.
On the other hand, in the lower sketch, the 'S' (road) is much more compressed.
The actual space between the foreground and the horizon is in reality much narrower than the first sketch.
See what happens... Your view is automatically lowered and you appear to be standing at ground level. To emphasise the point, have a look at the figure in each sketch.
They're both the same size, but in the lower one, he stands way above the horizon line, further re-inforcing the lower viewpoint.
Try this yourself. All you need to make the road are the two large 'S' shapes, gradually coming together on the horizon.
You don't need to bother with the hills. I've put them in to emphasise the distance.Remember, the more you flatten the 'S' shapes, the lower the view of your perspective drawing...
Of course this could be a river instead of a road. Or the lines could be straighter and be a pattern on a table cloth.
You would draw the tablecloth or a carpet using exactly the same principles of foreshortening and perspective drawing.
In the two final sketches I've drawn a line of bottles on a shelf.
All the same principles apply by sticking to the perspective drawing guidelines in the first sketch to ensure all the bottles are the same height and in line.
However in the final sketch notice how I've deliberately drawn several of the bottles above or below the guidelines and a couple with different shapes. What has happened?
The bottles appear to have grown, shrunk or moved forward or backwards on the shelf. Yet all I've done to achieve this is to use the guidelines ... or for some of the bottles, by not using them... if you see what I mean!
I hope this introduction to simple perspective will take some of the fear and mystery out of it.
Sure, it takes a little practice and perseverance, but once the penny drops, you're perspective drawing will come on in leaps and bounds. Remember, good observation is the key. Look carefully and draw what you see. Not what you think ought to be there!
Enjoy your drawing!