Lesson III- Basics of design-
I don't pretend to be an expert at all on this at all, but thought that I would share the information that I have put together while I researched this concept over the past few months. Hopefully, it will provide you with some information to help you decide what you want to put on the block, and how exactly to go about doing it.
The sky is pretty much the limit when it comes to what you decide to put on your block. You could do an interior scene, a landscape, cityscape- or even something totally abstract. Really, it doesn't matter WHAT you put on the block, but to get maximum effect, there are a few things that you should remember.
I find it easiest to sketch the blocks head-on. It is easier for me to visualize them in this way, and translate this into the 3 dimensions of the actual block. I draw a simple box, with another box centered in it (see sketch A), and then fill it in from there. See some of my examples in the STUDIO
To make layout easy, I put lines on the sketch (and later the block as well) that go from the edge to the vanishing point (see sketch B). The easiest way that I have found to lay these out is to find two lines on the block, one of which is 2" and the other 4" (the actual dimensions don't matter- just that they are proportional to one another). Then, I put marks every 1/4" on the short line, and every 1/2" on the longer line (the longer line is twice the length of the short one, the marks are spaced twice as far apart). Then, I connect the lines, through the vanishing point in the middle to the edge of the block. I now have guidelines for my drawing!
Now for a few basics that will help you come up with an image that works well with the illusion. Visualize the block. The vanishing point, which we want to appear to the viewer as the FARTHEST point from them, is in actuality the CLOSEST point. The mind ''automatically" switches this around when we see it, because that is how it "should" be, and we will provide a little bit of help, or trickery rather, to aid in this.
First, we are going to force an illusion of depth by varying the size of objects, making them smaller as we get closer to the vanishing point. Doors get smaller, people shrink, and so on. As we move back to the vanishing point, everything should get proportionally smaller, which is where the guidelines help a lot. Take a look at my quick sketch of the doors, (Sketch C). They get smaller as they go, but this is an illusion of depth- We assume that they are actually the same size, but that they are getting farther from us.
To further assist this illusion, we are going to use more trickery- We are going to vary the color and/or tone to create further depth illusion. By painting what appears to be farther away DARKER, we force the mind to place it farther back yet again. Refer to sketch C again, I have tried to achieve this on the door side. Notice how it becomes darker as we move to the 'back' of the room.
Another way to do this, which comes in to play in a landscape or cityscape more so than in a room, is blurring details that are supposed to be distant. Paint foreground items sharp and defined, and items that are in the background somewhat looser and less defined, and with less detail, just as you would on a flat canvas to simulate depth. This can be VERY effective.
On the subject of the design itself, as I mentioned previously, you can use pretty much anything that you want, but to get maximum effect, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you want to do as much as possible to draw the eye to the vanishing point. I find that the most effective ways to do this are to make the vanishing point the focal point of the painting, and also using as many lines as possible leading the eye from the edges of the painting to the vanishing point.
For a focal point, you don't need to go wild, just put something of interest in the far end of the painting to draw the viewer in. In a room, this could be a door or a window rather than a blank wall, in a landscape a mountain, tree- pretty much anything. Just put SOMETHING interesting there, and the viewer will naturally focus on it, which is exactly what you need to get the maximum out of the illusion.
Lines leading to the center are the most effective way to get maximum effect that I have found yet. I find the more lines you have, the greater the 'bending' effect when the painting is viewed. Lines running the LENGHTH of the painting, towards the vanishing point, are far more effective than those running the width of the painting, parallel to the vanishing point (See sketch D). A combination of both lines can also be very effective- Think checkerboard floors, or railroad tracks. This doesn't mean that you CAN'T use horizontal lines- just remember that the effect isn't as strong. A few great ways to get lines running the length of the painting are wood or checker floors, roads, fences, power lines- and so on.
The best way to tell if something is going to work out is to try it. Draw it, but remember that things work differently when you translate them into the 3-d world of the actual block. This is where paper models come in handy, build a couple of them, draw some sketches on them, and see how things work. Trust me, it will be addictive- I have sketched in my book for probably 30 blocks that I want to paint. Now, all I need is the time to do them!!
Hopefully, this post will be helpful in designing your block. If you have any questions, refer to the reference links, or feel free to PM or E-Mail me, and I will try to help out as much as possible. Most importantly, make sure you post some of your ideas and sketches in the studio, as inspiration and help for others....