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Old 10-25-2004, 12:04 AM
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JayD JayD is offline
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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 . 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!

Last edited by arnoud3272 : 12-23-2016 at 08:12 AM. Reason: Intuitive illustration
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