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Drawing & Perspective. A Pragmatic Trick.

I always spend a lot of time deciding the perspective of a new composition and, in particular, the point of view. It is crucial: So, I decide the “meaning” I want to give to the image, what it “must say”.  Having overcome this first obstacle, in principle there were problems in handling that “a priori” perspective. Concerned by theory, I lacked the pragmatism to manage my work in the most “economical” way possible. In fact, having placed the central figure of the composition, I fixed the two vanishing points totally “at discretion” in an accidental perspective, and thus I conditioned myself in constructing the rest of the image. The result obviously could not correspond to the scene I imagined. I leafed several texts on the theory of perspective, attended tutorials on You Tube that were also useful (I point out the Romaprof channel for everyone) but in the end a practical book was enlightening. I therefore recommend it. The author is Matthew Brehm, title “Drawing  Perspective”, Il Castello, pp. 144. Absolutely non-academic. So I learned to design the image with a perspective grid that I place under the white sheet, using a light panel. In this way, I am free to “move” the different elements of the painting as I please, “move” the horizon up or down, until I find the composition that best fits the raw idea. How did I build this perspective grid of mine? More difficult to explain than to do. Better a small example.

  • I trace the horizon line in the center of the sheet-grid, in order to develop the grid both above and below the horizon itself.
  • I draw a first diagonal vanishing line A-B at my pleasure;
  • Calculate the ratio between the distance from the horizon line to point A and that from horizon line to point B
  • Mark on the X-Z side points A2,3,4,5, etc… with a distance between them equal to O-A
  • Mark on the Y-K side points B2,3,4,5 etc etc with a distance between them equal to the distance O-B
  • With the same procedure, and always choosing a first vanishing line with an angle on the horizon as I like, I draw intersecting lines, from the Y-K side to the X-Z side. The result is a grid that, with the same logic,  can be completed by vanishing lines from top to bottom and vice versa if you wish to work on a perspective with three vanishing points.

With this base I can handle the composition in a complete way, and above all without worrying about vanishing points that are abundantly “off sheet”. In particular, it becomes easier to handle figures on different planes and distances. The basic grid respects two vanishing points: if I insert elements referring to different points, I limit myself to “grid” the specific lines, with the same “mathematical” method. This is obviously my practical experience, even trivial if we want. I carry it back for use by those who draw for fun  and “traditionally”. Digital design has many other tools, which I do not know, and which for now are beyond my interests. Good fun.

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