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JayD 10-25-2004 12:04 AM

Basics 101: Class 2 - Foundation of Perspective
Basic 101: Class 2

Eye Level: Foundation of Perspective

The source for this class can be found on Pages 15 through 19 of Rudy de Reyna’s How to Draw What You See.

Welcome to Class 2 of Basics 101. We are going to be covering the concept of eye level as it pertains to the successful laying out of perspective. The guest lecture series will take this class one step further with an excellent section devoted to one, two and three point perspectives. I urge you to do these simple exercises first before moving into the lecture hall.


1. # 2 pencil or pencil you used in the last class

2. Paper—same as last class

3. Feel free to use a ruler this time around

Exercise 1: To demonstrate the concept of eye level, lay on the floor on you back. I did this in preparation for the class and woke up 45 minutes later. Please do not follow my example and take a nap. Instead, look up at everything around you and mentally break any objects that you see into geometric objects—mentally eliminate the detail. Even though this seems obvious, note that for most of these objects you will see the BOTTOMS of these shapes. Now, pick out an object and sit up and keep your eyes FIXED on the chosen object. Note that the object’s point of view changes as you raise to a sitting position. Now keeping your eye on the object, stand up slowly and continue to observe the change until the tops of the object come into view. Eye level is THAT simple yet it is such a natural occurrence for us that many of us (read ME) forget to make this basic observation. If you can establish eye level you can correctly work out perspective. The level at which your eye views an object is called the “horizon” line. (Figure A) There are an infinite number of horizon lines.

Vanishing Points

At this point, having learned my lesson from the last class, I am going to label our images as figure A, B, C and so on.

A vanishing point is an IMAGINERY point on the horizon line.

There are in infinite number of vanishing points and it is up to you to fix the vanishing point according to your viewpoint. Your vanishing points will always be located ON the horizon line (eye level) that you establish. (See Figure B) In one point perspective, there is only one vanishing point. In two-point perspective there are two vanishing points and so forth. You will find examples of these in the guest lecture area.

The Cube In Perspective:

Exercise 2:

Follow these steps to create a cube in perspective (see also figure C)

a. Draw a rectangle or a square anywhere on your paper. This is the front of your cube..

b. Establish your horizon line (your eye level) and lightly draw it on the paper (you can also just do this in your head as many of us are prone to do).

c. Pick you vanishing point.

d. Connect the lines running from each of the edged of the Square or Rectangle to the vanishing point.

e. Add lines parallel to the front of the cubes along the lines running to the vanishing point (see figure C)

When you do this exercise, draw the cube several times using different vanishing points and horizon lines (eye levels).(see Figure D)

The mighty cube is a perfect visual example of the three dimensions: height, depth and width. If you can clearly define and then incorporate these dimensions into the objects that you draw, then you will be able to draw realistically.

Each dimension can vary. The height of the cube can be greater the depth or the width could be the biggest dimension of all three. Keeping this fact in mind will speed up your progress as an artist.

[Edit 2015: intuitive illustration]

The foundation of perspective that you learn in this class is very simple. The problem lies in the consistent application of the principles. That needs very attentive checking and re-checking. But illustrated by an elementary example - a double railroad track - it is almost ridiculous that it should be explained.
1. Further away looks smaller.
2. All VP's of horizontal lines lie on the same and only horizon line aka Eye Level.
3. All lines in a group of parallel lines converge to the same VP.

Exercise 3:

Look about your home and locate four boxes. When you have finished practicing the cubes, draw the boxes and add detail to them such as packaging design or lettering (if it is on you box). Do several studies of these boxes with detail but at different eye levels. Keep in mind eye level (horizon line) and vanishing point.

Exercise 4:

Taking your newfound artistic superpowers draw and post the following items.:

1. A Television (with detail)
[Ed 17 Dec 2009]: skip this, the modern flat screens are no good illustrations of perspective.

2. A box of Kleenex (with detail)

3. A table
[Ed 17 Dec 2009]: advice: choose a rectangular table with straight legs

4. Redo the chair exercise from the previous class—only this time CHANGE THE HORIZON LINE (EYE LEVEL) and post. I will be doing the chair again for another class (Drawing with Cubic Objects). Use an ordinary straight dining chair (on the recommendation of Robin Neudorfer, class tutor), changing the eyelevel from the previous exercise. [changed 16 May 2008] post ref with exercise


At the guest lecture hall you will find examples of one, two, and three point perspective. Go over these lectures and then try you hand at applying two and three point perspective to the subjects in exercise 4.

[Edit 2016 Friendly advice: if you don't understand 1, 2 and 3 point perspective on first reading, forget it :thumbsup:. Contrary to what all tutorials make you believe, this is NOT basic. Indeed, it is studied in this classroom in the more advanced 102 - class 1.

For those of you with buildings or outdoor scenes, take a crack at establishing your horizon lines in one, two and three point perspective. Correct the perspective in your drawing if needed. TIP: SKETCH OUT YOUR DRAWING FREEHAND AND THEN CORRECT THE DRAWING USING PERSPECTIVE.

I have included some reference photos that I took that you can try your skills out on OR you can grab some from the reference library.

Good luck and happy drawing!

JayD 10-25-2004 12:06 AM

Re: Basics 101: Class 2
5 Attachment(s)
Here are the practice photos mentioned in the lesson and dont forget to go to the guest lecture hall for Mitzi's lecture on perspective. :) See if you can locate the horizon line and vanishing points. How would you do these as drawings.

JayD 10-25-2004 04:28 PM

Re: Basics 101: Class 2
Here is the link for Scratchmaster's (Russ') tutorial:


JayD 10-25-2004 05:39 PM

Re: Basics 101: Class 2
Fireman's Kid--I think that is the stumper of perspective--how do I know where to place what. Ironically, the answer is to eyeball it. YOU decide where you want the horizon line to be and YOU decide where to place your vanishing points. In other words before applying perspective you have to make some decisions and those decisiosn are about how the viewer sees your picture and from what eye level.

I cannot say this enought but this might help all you with perspective:






Hope this helps. By the way, I got this take on perspective from the Japanese.

JayD 10-25-2004 08:27 PM

Re: Basics 101: Class 2

Try this one.

OK this one does work--it is really neat--it employs two point perspective.

Sorry, broken link :(

Jet 10-25-2004 09:33 PM

Re: Basics 101: Class 2
Thanks JayD, for the pointers on perspective...

I did this "study" of photograph #2 ...
It's easy to get confused when looking for the vanishing point, here i started with the red lines, then after going through several lines i changed it for the VP (green lines)..
All lines are true in rooms #1 & #2.....

Purple lines are supposed to be the vertical lines, although there is a slight lens aberration on room #3 ...

If we follow the lines we can tell that the windows in room #2 are identical, and the windows on #1 are not the same size...

By following these lines we can draw the bottom line of the house walls (here is the edge of room #1...
......and add a BBQ Grill with very accurate perspective, too...:cool:


Hope it helps...

Kind Regards

Jet 10-26-2004 05:46 PM

Re: Basics 101: Class 2
Thanks JayD,..

Hello Guys & Gals,
I've been too busy moving....and it's only moving 2 rooms full of dusty stuff to 2 stories above..pant..pant..!!

OK now, back to the fun !! :)

Ann, Jo,you're doing great; there is no fast rule as to how deep an object will be as it is more a perceptual issue...to get our attention let's imagine a shadow...How long(deep) a shadow has to be it depends on the position/distance of the lighting source and the surface, where it will (cast) fall upon....same goes here, but this time your eyes are the equivalent of the light source....

One way to know for sure is, to compare it with other objects sitting next to it....and a better way to understand this is by taking pictures at different angles and compare the relationship between an acute angle and an obtuse one..you'll notice that at one point there will be the need for fore shortening your objects, and all their depths look -not quite, but- about the same.

This will be more easy to understand if we take a look at buildings and how architects figure this out, i had the opportunity to attend 2 semesters of Architecture and this is about the only thing that i am familiar with...
Following, is the best picture JayD could have posted, for illustrating this topic...

This photograph is the whole enchilada as to what One-Point Perspective is all about...

You can see lines of different color here, the Horizon (green), Convergence Lines (yellow), Vertical (red)...
You'll find the horizon as the flat line that crosses the vanishing point(s), and it tells us where the photographer was standing too. This clever photographer was standing at a 2nd level, and he was aiming straight ahead, slightly tilted CCW -not being generally noticed, but in short range objects-.

Going back to the kleenex box, one way to 'tell' the depth of objects is to place 'clues', as the 'squares' on the floor of this photograph, it let us know, the length of adjacent objects (buildings) by looking at these squares ...:cool:

I hope i made sense here ...If not please let me know !

This picture is so rich in information that is our most valuable tool for this topic.. Good Job JayD...


Note from the Editor: This thread continues with the recent posts. The older posts can be found in this closed thread:

sarajane554 06-14-2014 09:04 PM

Re: Basics 101: Class 2 - Foundation of Perspective
Hello, here are my exercises 2, 3, and 4b. My vanishing lines on the 4 boxes are very light; hopefully you can make them out at least somewhat. I'll post my table and chair in a few days. Thank you very much for looking :)

arnoud3272 06-15-2014 02:49 PM

Re: Basics 101: Class 2 - Foundation of Perspective
Sara -
Excellent :clap:. You've applied the principles of perspective completely correctly :thumbsup:.
One remark, of an esthetic issue, not a technical one, look at the near bottom corner of the Cream of Wheat box. It is not pleasing. That is because you put the left VP too close. When working on a real drawing or painting, not a perspective exercise, take care to make the distance between the VP's large enough (in 2PP that is). Just guess - OK, practice makes perfect - the position of the very far VP if it is way out of the paper.

sarajane554 06-16-2014 02:09 PM

Re: Basics 101: Class 2 - Foundation of Perspective
Thank you. Yes, I noticed that the Cream of Wheat box looked wacky which I why I started taping extension sheets on to spread out the other vanishing points. But yea, I see that with experience I could construct those vanishing lines mentally instead of actually drawing them out.

Ok, on to the table & chair ;-)

sarajane554 06-19-2014 09:41 AM

Re: Basics 101: Class 2 - Foundation of Perspective
Here are my table & chair :-) Thanks very much for your time!

arnoud3272 06-19-2014 05:24 PM

Re: Basics 101: Class 2 - Foundation of Perspective
Well done, Sara :clap:.
Please move on to class 3 :thumbsup:.

ataraxiia 06-19-2014 06:58 PM

Re: Basics 101: Class 2 - Foundation of Perspective

Had some trouble with the four boxes don't think I quite got it
&sorry about the orientation:angel:

arnoud3272 06-20-2014 09:42 AM

Re: Basics 101: Class 2 - Foundation of Perspective
ataraxiia - Good start, you understand perspective. But there is no reason why the rays of light would treat some edges more equal than others.
Take care to apply perspective to all receding sets of lines.
In the second drawing, the right edges recede even more than on the left.

Don't hurry, take your time :thumbsup:.

amyloulie 06-24-2014 06:37 PM

Re: Basics 101: Class 2 - Foundation of Perspective
Arnoud, here are my first lessons in class two. I am learning a lot about what I don't know! I had the most difficulty drawing the box on the shelf above eye level - don't exactly know why, unless it's because most of the time I concentrate on objects while looking downward. At least I might not trip over things on the floor...

I do appreciate your time and good instruction. Thank you.


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