Perspective in Everything we Draw?

# Thread: Perspective in Everything we Draw?

1. ## Perspective in Everything we Draw?

Andrew Loomis "Successful Drawing": "No drawing is real drawing unless it is related to an eye level or horizon."

Does this means even a hand study should be related to a physically drawn horizon? But then even if your just doing a study of form,
without the horizon or eye line, it will in some way be inaccurate no matter how accurate it actually looks?

From what I've seen in most figure studies in peoples sketchbook, they keep the eye line in mind - but there's almost never a physical horizon line.

I don't know if this seems like nit-picking, but I'm really trying to start back at the fundamentals and give drawing a proper approach.

2. To my knowledge Perspective is one thing which artist keeps learning throughout life. Yes it exists in everything. Without Perspective you cannot place your object in space.

Since almost anything can be fit in a cube placed in perspective. You should start by drawing a cube in almost any position you imagine and being perspective correct. Once you have mastered the cube you can place any object you like in space wherever you like and it will have correct dimensions.

Remember a horizon line exists even if its not so obvious. As far as form is concerned its related to light source and position of light.

3. You're confusing two things. A horizon is usually where the surface meets the sky at the limts of your vision; a horizon line is your eye level projected into infinity. One is an observable phenomenon and one is an imaginary construct to help you in drawing. Don't confuse the two, they are not the same.

Last edited by dpaint; May 14th, 2011 at 10:31 AM.

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5. Change the angle of your eye line from horizontal and you might not even have the horizon within your picture.

Perspective is a tool. Your task may not be pure realism. Your composition could call for fancy perspective. You might have to mix several perspective systems in one drawing, or make the perspective curvilinear, or use orthogonal projection...

In short, it helps a lot to have a good grasp of perspective, especially before you begin playing with it and bending the "rules". But there is no law mandating that you must have geometric perspective in every picture. Do what fits the task best.

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7. Loomis's point is that no matter what (if you're drawing realistically), every form you see is in position/orientation to your point of view. Note that he says "eye level or horizon". This is to say, your first read about an object should be something to the effect of "is it above my line of sight or below, and is it right in the center or off to one side". Everything else proceeds from there.

You don't need to physically draw the horizon line in, but it often does really help. In fact a lot of people that I see who don't draw it in would often benefit from drawing it in there. If it's good enough for James Gurney maybe it's good enough for us as well:

Originally Posted by James Gurney
The eye level is the very first line you put into your drawing—even a figure drawing at a sketch group. I mark it with the letters “EL” to remind me what it is. If your scene is more of an upshot, the EL is toward the bottom of the scene. Everything that you draw above the line is something you’re looking up at. In a view that’s more of a downshot, the EL is high in the composition because almost everything in the scene is below your level gaze.
Heck, eye level warrants three posts on Gurney Journey! Quote from part 1. Links to part 2 and part 3.

On a hand study, you want to keep in mind how all the forms are oriented to your view and to each other. Too often people copy the contour without understanding how the form it's attached to is oriented in space. Then when all the contours are finished, the fingers look broken. Attached are some hand studies that are really deliberately demonstrating what I'm talking about (bottom right, very faint, is the beginning of a study that doesn't show the construction so explicitly, but still has this thinking behind it).

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9. Two things that were repeatedly drummed into my head at art school:
Always be aware of your horizon/eye level/POV.
Always be aware of your light source.

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11. Originally Posted by Elwell
Two things that were repeatedly drummed into my head at art school:
Always be aware of your horizon/eye level/POV.
Always be aware of your light source.
It shows man!

But you forgot: Always be aware of who is sitting behind you.

Last edited by JeffX99; May 14th, 2011 at 03:52 PM. Reason: Oh look, Ihave to fix something...

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Originally Posted by dose
Too often people copy the contour without understanding how the form it's attached to is oriented in space. Then when all the contours are finished, the fingers look broken.
well, I'm from a different school of thought; you don't need to understand anything, as long as you can accurately copy the shapes that make up the form. abstractify, let the outline (or the negative space surrounding the outline) describe the form. in the above case, don't draw what you KNOW about a hand, but what you SEE.

too often, people have preconceptions about how things look, and they get in the way of observing. hell, even today, I was out landscaping for the first time, and although I know in theory that one should translate exactly what one sees, it's hard to NOT paint a tree green, when it LOOKS purple.

I know: cool story, bro.

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15. Originally Posted by duztman
well, I'm from a different school of thought; you don't need to understand anything, as long as you can accurately copy the shapes that make up the form.
That's not going to get you anywhere unless you want to do nothing but make extremely literal copies of things all your life...

If you want to be able to draw what you see, AND be able to improve on what you see and make it look good as a drawing, AND be able to invent whole new images from imagination, AND be able to use observed reference intelligently to improve an imagined scene, then you need to understand as well as observe.

It's not an either-or proposition... You need to observe AND understand AND think AND interpret.

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17. dutzman, which atelier are you studying at?

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Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere
That's not going to get you anywhere unless you want to do nothing but make extremely literal copies of things all your life...

If you want to be able to draw what you see, AND be able to improve on what you see and make it look good as a drawing, AND be able to invent whole new images from imagination, AND be able to use observed reference intelligently to improve an imagined scene, then you need to understand as well as observe.

It's not an either-or proposition... You need to observe AND understand AND think AND interpret.

'nothing but'? copying life is the hardest thing you can do as a draughtsman and painter (although I don't understand what you mean by 'literal'. as opposed to exaggerated..?).
sure, anatomical knowledge might help you better understand what makes up the forms, edges et al of a hand, say, but god help you if you start making decisions based on preconceived notions rather than observation!

and no, there is no way you can IMPROVE on nature. you can make decisions of what information to exclude and highlight, but that's it.

but obviously, you are talking about drawing things from imagination, and I'm coming from a different place here. some people like to construct their figures from boxes and cylinders, myself I just try to capture the visual impression.

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21. How does that old story about Sargent go?

Student: "I only draw what I see!"
Sargent: "Wait till you see what you draw!"

Obviously you've had a revelation, Dutzman. It's a good one- ride it out as long as it's useful. But be careful of building up so much dogma around it that you close to other viewpoints.

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23. Originally Posted by duztman
too often, people have preconceptions about how things look, and they get in the way of observing. hell, even today, I was out landscaping for the first time, and although I know in theory that one should translate exactly what one sees, it's hard to NOT paint a tree green, when it LOOKS purple.
Actually, it's really easy- when you understand why it looks purple.
Your observation is shaped by your knowledge.

I'll just leave this here, I've requoted it numerous times over the years:
Originally Posted by Elwell
Drawing is a complex process, which requires the artist to continually switch between several different modes of thought, depending on which one is useful at that particular moment. If I'm drawing or painting a figure, for instance, sometimes I'm looking at it as an abstract collection of flat tones and shapes, sometimes as a collection of three-dimensional forms in space being effected by light, sometimes I'm thinking about the names of the bones and muscles and what they are doing, and sometimes I'm thinking about what my artistic intention is with the piece and how I have to interpret and modify what I see in order to fulfill it. Training that leaves out any of those modes of thought is incomplete. Making art takes your whole brain.

Last edited by Elwell; May 14th, 2011 at 06:36 PM.

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25. I see. So when doing singular studies of objects like a vase or hand, it's not necessary to draw a horizon line with lines leading to the object,
but instead to at least draw out an eye line to establish the orientation of simplified shapes to then build contours upon?

Horizon line would then be of more use in relating multiple objects to each other accurately in a space?

26. Originally Posted by Hogwash
Horizon line would then be of more use in relating multiple objects to each other accurately in a space?
Somewhat..the "eyeline" or you could call it the "plane of vision" which extends out from your eyes is the key. As dose said everything is either above it, below it, centered, right or left (if you also want to imagine a perpendicular plane centerd between your eyes). These planes simply determine what you're looking at and help you stay consistent. Most of the time the eyeline happens to line up with the natural horizon, but it gets more varied with still life, figure or different kinds of points of view.

27. Originally Posted by dose
How does that old story about Sargent go?

Student: "I only draw what I see!"
Sargent: "Wait till you see what you draw!"

But wasn't it also Sargent who said he never cared what the name of something was (a tree for example)? All he needed was to be able to see it? Something along those lines anyway...

I liked what Queenie said: "It's not an either-or proposition... You need to observe AND understand AND think AND interpret."

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29. Originally Posted by JeffX99
...Most of the time the eyeline happens to line up with the natural horizon, but it gets more varied with still life, figure or different kinds of points of view.
Can someone post an example of an eye line that doesn't line up with the horizon?

Having a real difficult time understanding the difference here, I'm sorry. Examples would be easier for me to see the contrast between the two.

30. Go to the beach. Look out at the water. Your eye line corresponds with the physical horizon. Now look at your feet. Your eye line no longer corresponds with the physical horizon. (Strictly speaking, the horizon and your eye level are only identical when your direction of view is parallel with the ground plane, although people often use them interchangeably.)

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32. Originally Posted by dose
How does that old story about Sargent go?

Student: "I only draw what I see!"
Sargent: "Wait till you see what you draw!"

Obviously you've had a revelation, Dutzman. It's a good one- ride it out as long as it's useful. But be careful of building up so much dogma around it that you close to other viewpoints.
This was supposedly Whistler, for caustic wit the Elwell of his day.

Dutzman--you've discovered A truth, and looking at the examples of life drawing you've posted in "Fine Arts" it's serving you well, but don't mistake it for THE truth.

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34. Originally Posted by duztman
well, I'm from a different school of thought; you don't need to understand anything, as long as you can accurately copy the shapes that make up the form. abstractify, let the outline (or the negative space surrounding the outline) describe the form. in the above case, don't draw what you KNOW about a hand, but what you SEE.

too often, people have preconceptions about how things look, and they get in the way of observing. hell, even today, I was out landscaping for the first time, and although I know in theory that one should translate exactly what one sees, it's hard to NOT paint a tree green, when it LOOKS purple.

I know: cool story, bro.
I think what you're getting at is the preconceptions point, which I agree with. People get bogged down with what they think things should look like, instead of what they do look like. For example, people sometimes worry about the nose looking too big or too small, whereas if you ignore the fact that it's a nose, and just look and understand the form and the lighting etc, as an object, then you are more likely to get it right.

Personally in Life Drawing I've never thought about it as awkward, with a naked person in the room, because as soon as you start drawing, you're focusing on the form. They might as well be a bowl of fruit. (No banana jokes)

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Originally Posted by dose
Obviously you've had a revelation, Dutzman. It's a good one- ride it out as long as it's useful. But be careful of building up so much dogma around it that you close to other viewpoints.
hold your horses there, buddy; I'm not dogmatic about this. Indeed, I said that I'm from a different school of thought, not the ONLY school of thought.

Originally Posted by Elwell
Actually, it's really easy- when you understand why it looks purple.
Your observation is shaped by your knowledge.
true, there is an explanation as to why it looks purple, and it's all very fascinating, but at the end of the day, it's my job to find the right value, hue and chroma to describe said purple, not submit a thesis on why.
granted, it takes KNOWLEDGE to achieve that particular purple, but that's undercutting my argument...

37. The more you know, the more you see.
And, the more you know, the more you realize how much you didn't know when you thought you knew.
I like to know stuff. And I will never, ever, ever, allow a statement like
Originally Posted by duztman
you don't need to understand anything
to go unchallenged.

Last edited by Elwell; May 15th, 2011 at 12:16 PM.

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39. Originally Posted by duztman
well, I'm from a different school of thought; you don't need to understand anything, as long as you can accurately copy the shapes that make up the form.
That's not a school of thought, that's the school of dumb copying. It doesn't get you far.

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41. Originally Posted by duztman
hold your horses there, buddy; I'm not dogmatic about this. Indeed, I said that I'm from a different school of thought, not the ONLY school of thought.
Fair enough. More I was responding the idea that it doesn't have to be either/or, as others have mentioned. In fact, I've found most people who claim to only be doing one are usually doing a fair bit of the other, consciously or unconsciously.

I actually use the type of thinking (or non-thinking?) you're talking about in conjuction with more analytical thinking. Figure out construction, and validate it against shapes I see, or, start with shapes and validate it against construction. I tend to alternate between the two, finding each method to balance out shortcomings of the other.

I've found in the long run there's no real need to subscribe to a given school of thought. Just use whatever school of thought is useful at a given moment.

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43. It sounds like you might be referring to page 42 in, "Creative Illustration"? Notice the artist that is drawing, the eye level literally goes on the same level as his eyes.

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45. Another way to interpret it is to say that every drawing must have a "perspective", however Loomis is being literal... in order to confuse you lol. A perspective is "a way of regarding situations, facts, etc, and judging their relative importance", you put things in a hierarchy. To make a superficial observation we can say that in a picture there is a closest object and a farthest object, that is a hierarchy. The most in front, the most in back. Whether you draw like dose has described or like duztman, either way you're drawing is dictated by the location of yourself in the environment, the height of you eyeballs or your eyeline... To make a drawing from life without any discovery or without drawing what is before you, is not an application of knowledge but a form of prejudice.

1. "Too often people copy... without understanding...Then when all the contours are finished, the fingers look broken."

2. "you don't need to understand anything, as long as you can accurately copy the shapes that make up the form."

Statement 2 is true, and is proved by a camera... People are not cameras I never said they were. The fingers don't look broken because the artist doesn't understand the planes, but because they are messing up the contour. Proof: it is possible to change the contours but keep the same plane relationships.

46. Originally Posted by armando
Another way to interpret it is to say that every drawing must have a "perspective", however Loomis is being literal... in order to confuse you lol. A perspective is "a way of regarding situations, facts, etc, and judging their relative importance", you put things in a hierarchy.
Armando, look at pages 40 through 45 in, "Creative Illustration". He's talking about taking clippings (magazine photo's that he's collected as reference) and being able to put them together so that they're in the same perspective.

Last edited by Bowlin; May 19th, 2011 at 06:00 AM.

47. I know. I was interpreting his quote "No drawing is real drawing unless it is related to an eye level or horizon.", this was already disproved by Cezanne, in that he used multiple eye levels in his pictures, around 70 years before "Successful Drawing" was written.

Last edited by armando; May 19th, 2011 at 05:35 PM.

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I think that there is no arguing that both knowledge of construction and an understanding of the mechanics of human perception are integral to successful drawing. Cultivating an objective eye allows us to view things on an abstract level and make value judgements on the intangibles of picture making (I.e. Subordination, economy, and unification). Knowledge of construction helps us prioritize the visual information in a "forest for the trees" sort of way, seeing form over texture, and things of that nature.

Sidenote:
I Think that in order to have a planar understanding you must know something about perspective.

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