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Perspective is a matter of perspective (/pəˈspɛktɪv/).

Planet illustration studio company blog 033 / Design perspective, an illustrators point of view.... by freelance illustrator Adrian Cartwright

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Ever since I was about 8, perspective was something I fully understood, and often got me into trouble in Art class. Feeling compelled to point out perspective mistakes upset some to the point that I learnt early on to keep my mouth shut... something I have to do even today.

20th December 2016

Perspective is a matter of perspective (/pəˈspɛktɪv/).
In this blog I intend to briefly cover the basics of one, two and three point perspective. Later blogs will cover how it can create impact and understanding. How it can be ignored for design styling and it’s subtle use to help people with visual clarity. I will also cover effective use of perspective and the benefits of it’s use.

So lets firstly talk about perspective... if you can see, you'll see perspective all the time. Well sort of, as in reality everything we see through our eyes is distorted, much like a wide angle lens produces a similar view. Our brains take the images and straighten the image out so we have a better understanding.
Let me explain, take a photo of a table for instance, and print it off... Looking at the table, you know it's made of straight edges, but if you were to place a ruler onto the photo, lining up with the edge of the table top. You'll notice that the edge is in fact curved. Place it on anything that you think is a straight edge and you'll find it's all slightly bent.
Like the camera lens, our eyes to do same.
So where does perspective come into all of this, well it's a way to create accurate drawings that follow some simple rules to keep it all in scale and look like what our brain is trying to do.

Rules of perspective are universal and possibly there's more than you think.
1 point perspective:
Imagining a railway track (Locomotive track). Visualise yourself stood on the track looking off into the horizon. Providing the track is straight, the two parallel rails appear closer together the further away they go, meeting together at a single point at the horizon. This is one point perspective. A fence running along the side of the track would also appear to finally meet at the point of perspective. But in fact the fence is still the same distance away from the rail track, simply it’s that far away, it looks like they meet.
So why need more points. Well the example about the railway track only outlines one plane of field (direction). It is a straight edge running in one dimension of a three dimensional world.

one point perspective sketch
2 point perspective example
three point perspective sketch
3 point perspective example

2 point of perspective:
Imagine that you step off the track and move a few steps to the right of the rails. The rails will still meet at the point of perspective in a straight line. We'll call this the (x axis).
The sleepers (planks of wood) that hold and support the rails, are positioned underneath the rails at a right angle (90º) to the rails, and the length of them would point to another point of perspective. The 2nd point of perspective, which would be on the horizon, but far left of the first point.
Now imagine that the ground was covered in lines, equalling spaced, some pointing to the first perspective, and some to the 2 point... much like the squares on a chess board. So now you have x axis for the lines pointing the track to a vanishing point at the horizon and the sleepers pointing towards the 2nd point on the horizon.
3 point perspective:
Now, it's getting interesting, because the 3rd point isn't on the ground (Horizon) but deep underground (Like the south pole) or in the sky, depending on your view point. For instance if you’re looking downward, then the 3rd point would be downward (south pole) and if you’re looking upward like a skyscraper for instance, then the vanishing point would be in the sky.
For simplicity we're going to say the 3rd point of perspective is underground seeing that we’re above the Railtrack.
We're now going to add telegraph poles along the side of the track. All vertical lines like the telegraph poles running along the track will point to the 3rd point (South Pole).
With the nearest Telegraph pole, determined a typical height and draw an imaginary line from the top to the 1st point (x axis) on the horizon. This will give you a guide to the height of each telegraph pole as you add them towards the horizon.

That's it, apart from foreshortening which is something I'll blog about another time. But in the mean time, just guess the smaller distances as things are placed further away. But in essence it's how you measure things as they move further away, just like the sleepers on the track, and I’ll cover that very soon.

Don’t forget to follow me and learn more about
the skills I’ve learnt and developed over the 26 years I’ve been a self employed illustrator.

Blogs coming soon…
How to calculate foreshortening.
Creative impact with perspective.
Ignoring perspective for graphic style in design.
Using perspective to help create visual clarity.

Author: Adrian Cartwright illustrator.

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