Getting a Perspective on Perspective- An Introduction

A technical drawing skill like perspective is a great one to learn because it gives students the ability to be successful.  And I love an opportunity to give students a chance at success!

I like the definition on  Perspective is

the theory or art of suggesting three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface, in order to recreate the appearance and spatial relationships that objects or a scene in recession present to the eye

This video by David McBride is great for giving people an idea of what perspective is and does.  It shows how perspective can and is used in illustration.

And its fun to watch!

We’ve started a 6 week series on Perspective beginning with one point perspective.  I’m working with ages 10 and up for the most part.  Many of them have not had much experience with formal art lessons.

Perspective Introduction

I like to start students, no matter the age, with using a ruler to make lines.  Seems basic, I know, but I have seen a lot of kids who

  • can’t make the line start right on point (doesn’t account for thickness of pencil lead)
  • can’t make a smooth straight line (holding ruler steady)
  • holds hand on wrong side of ruler (hand gets in the way)

First we make a lot of dots on paper so that students can practice connecting those dots.  While I walk around making suggestions that they change how they hold their ruler, take into account the thickness of the pencil lead, check that both dots are matched up before drawing the line, and hold the ruler very steady with fingers split for better hold.

practice using a ruler

After we practiced for awhile and had it down, we moved onto the typical “floating shapes”.

There are many good videos that will walk you through this basic lesson.  So I’m not going to try to go into crazy detail with words instead I will just give you an overall look at our process…

We started with a horizon line.  A line across the middle of the paper from side to side or horizontally 😉

On that line (and I stress ON the line), we add a point, or vanishing point.  Just one point which makes it one point perspective.  This is like if you are in the dessert with a long road in front of you.  The road appears to vanish in the distance.  THAT is the vanishing point.

So we drew shapes, flat 2 dimensional shapes.  For our purposes I had them do at least 5 shapes.  My older students (I work with a wide range of ages) were free to make more.

I asked that most shapes were geometric but to try one with a rounded edge.

Then using our very good ruler skills, we take each corner back to the vanishing point forming the converging lines.

Look at those skills!  All the lines meet spot on!

converging lines to vanishing point

Now for the edges we keep the ruler parallel and slide it away from the shape down the converging lines to make the end of the shape.

For the rounded edges we move down the converging lines and copy the line shape.

Once all our lines were added, we darkened the ones we wanted to keep and erased all our reference lines: the converging lines, horizon line, and vanishing point.  I try to stress using a light hand to draw the lines.  And this is a great opportunity for them to learn why I kept repeating myself.  In the next perspective session, more students were using a lighter hand.

outlined shapes

And just because we could, we determined a light source and shaded the opposite side to continue the 3 dimensional look.

We have long classes which allows us to get quite a bit done.

No big surprise but I forgot to take pictures so I only got a few examples from class (I tend to get caught up with teaching).  They did a great job!

perspective 1

perspective 2

perspective 3

perspective 4

perspective 5

perspective 6

How do you introduce perspective?  Did I miss anything?

Welcome to my adventures in teaching Art outside of the public school system. I’ll share our projects and challenge myself and you to continually improve. So glad you stopped by!

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