Thursday, 5 May 2011

Perspective (in aquarelle)

As promised in our Hangar blog, here's a theory bit about perspective. Not technical, but intuitive, the way we aquarellistas like it!
First of all - your horizon is always on eye-level and your brain knows exactly what 'horizontal' is: if you hold a pen 'horizontally' in front of you, it is perfectly level. (you know how to hang a painting straight etc etc...) The proof that your brain knows this is in the picture below: you can tell which ones are the children... why - how?

You can change the expression of your painting with the level of your horizon. There is a 'normal' viewpoint, but you can also work from a very low horizon - expressing that you are very small, everything is higher than you, you are in awe of your surroundings - the frog view
example of 'Frog view' (thanks to Krijn Dijkema for the picture)

or a high horizon - so that everything is below you...
example of 'bird view'

Another important thing that suggests distance is that the 'objects' (mountains, a village, a tree, houses) which are further away, are 'bluer' (simple: air is blue, the further away the object is, the more air between you and the object).
Example of distant objects that are more and more blue: Venice by William Turner

Next important thing - the bigger the distance the smaller an object is. Which leads to something called vanishing points... These are helpful when you are painting buildings. In 2D (your flat piece of paper) horizontal stays horizontal, and vertical stays vertical... the problem is the angles... objects that are further away are smaller and this also works for walls (the further a certain part of the wall is from you, the smaller it is). To draw or paint that consistently you can use so-called vanishing points, on your horizon.

If the walls of this house were endlessly long, they would go on up to the horizon.
That is where your vanishing points are...

And of course the most important: keep observing carefully, measure, check and compare - the best example is always in what you are seeing!

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