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Understanding Perspective When Drawing People and Animals

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Post Understanding Perspective When Drawing People and Animals   Sat Aug 20, 2011 2:11 pm

You might not think perspective matters much in drawing people or wildlife but it does.

Perspective is unavoidable, it is always there. For instance if you are drawing a crowed, people will be in the foreground and from there stretching back into the background. Most people will be of average height so your eye level will be in common with those in the crowed. As the people recede from you there heads will remain more or less at the same level but there feet will gradually move up towards the horizon. if you are drawing a small flock of birds the ones in the foreground will be bigger than those in the background, a deer in the foreground will be bigger than the trees in the far background.

There are rules in perspective which once learned will greatly help in your efforts. Basically you have a horizon line which is where your eye level is, whether you are standing up, sitting down or lying down. In the instance of the crowed, if you were sitting down the feet of the crowed would still move up towards the horizon but the heads would also move down to the horizon, your eye level. Horizontal lines on any subject below this line will run up to it and horizontal lines above will run down to it. You either look down at things or up at things unless they are at your eye level.

There are also vanishing points above and below you. These need not be considered unless you are drawing a very tall building or looking down from a height. You probably won't need them for normal subject matter.

Perspective can be complex and as I am only dealing with drawing people or wildlife I will not go into great detail here. I will go further into the subject in a later article.

As for drawing people or animals perspective comes into it when dealing with foreshortening [objects get bigger the closer they are to you, this might seem obvious but read on]. If you are drawing some one who has their feet towards you, you will notice how big they are in comparison with their head. Feet are normally slightly longer than the head is high so when you see the feet like this and start drawing them you will probably be fighting your brain who is telling you that the feet can't be that big! You just need to keep measuring them against the head or some other part.

I would like to mention a tool that will greatly help you with this and that is the 'Proportion Measure' which is available on my sight 'Performing Pencil' see below.

To help you to understand perspective, get hold of a box [not too big] and place it in front of you. Draw it from there and then draw it at different angles this will help you grasp the principles of perspective.

Ellipses are another aspect of perspective. An ellipse or an oval is a circle seen from the side. I shall try and explain what happens with ellipses as they drop away or rise up from your eye level. Imagine a transparent cylinder with lines drawn around its circumference, see how the line moves from a straight line at eye level to an open ellipse at the bottom or top. As you can see the ellipse gradually opens up as it drops away or moves up above your eye level.

Another common mistake made by beginners is putting points on each side of an ellipse at the point where they move around to the back. Remember the line follows a curve and not a triangular shape.

I hope this explanation of perspective has been of benefit.

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