Perspective Using Geometry and Color

In order to create an impression of realism you will need to understand and control the values of perspective in your paintings. With the application of  calculated mathematical measures, as well as color manipulation methods, you can create or super impose the dramatic appearance of depth  in your work.



St John in the Wilderness
177 x 115 cm
Oil on panel
transferred to canvas,

Although perspective techniques and formulas utilized in drawings today were pioneered and developed by artisans during the renaissance period in Florence by architects Filippo Brunelleschi and Leone Battista Alberti ,  evidence of  the use of perspective and foreshortening techniques has appeared in Greek art as early as the end of the 6th century. Imagine how difficult it would be to plan the construction of  any complex form of architecture without first visualizing the project with use of perspective techniques. For this reason I would consider the possibility that perspective had been used in ancient times but was not completely understood or that sufficient means of documentation or preservation were not available until the renaissance. It is believed that Florentine painter Paolo Uccello1396-1475 was first to receive credit for putting use to linear perspective and foreshortening techniques to  paintings.

By locating the “vanishing point” as an individual point in a picture all parallel lines that run from the viewers eye to the horizon line will appear to come together. This provides an artist with a means to calculate the size of objects in a painting determined by the viewers distance from them. The use of  “linear perspective” will assist an artist to control the depth and scale of  figures, objects, and architecture producing a three-dimensional quality to his work.

Paris, A Rainy Day Gustave Caillebotte

Click to see larger image

Paris, A Rainy Day
Oil on canvas          1876-1877



Gustave Caillebotte 
by Kirk Varnedoe  Click here for
more info.

The analysis and development of  aerial perspective for which  Leonardo Da Vinci receives most credit in the West, was also often used in Asian art.  Also known as atmospheric perspective, it’s process is intended to create the impression of depth in painting by imitating the way the atmosphere makes  objects appear less distinguishable and bluer as they increase in distance from the foreground.

Foreshortening is where the rendering process employs the use of exaggerated linear perspective with distorted differences in the size of elements of an object or figure in a drawing to create the illusion of  great depth. The foreshortening process is distinctly associated only with a single object, or part of an object or figure such as a hand or foot that would appear closer within the entire setting of the picture, by rendering unnatural proportions in order to acquire the illusion of three dimensional reality.

Perspective Foot Grid

Also known in the modern world as Perspective Projection by draftsman and architects, foreshortening principals are categorized based on the number of existing vanishing points utilized to ultimately render an image of a three-dimensional object onto a flat two-dimensional  surface or plane. The foreshortened object can be viewed as a ” one-point“, ” two-point“, or ” three-point” projection. When perspective guide lines are used to assist with a drawing, any subject included with in these imaginary dimensional lines can be created with a distorted geometric view of it’s true proportions to fool the human eye.

Most often recognized within architectural drawings or busy urban landscapes, “ Multipoint Perspective” represents the acknowledgment of several objects each with individual varying vanishing points which all meet at a common horizon line. Calculation of  each object’s dimensions, whether using “one-point”, “two-point”, or “three-point” perspective, is scaled based on their individual relationship to each other integrally within the entire projection plane.

Once you have disciplined yourself to the basics of these principals you will find your sketches less complicated and your results much more gratifying while determining the outlining dimensions of your work  Together with Leonardo’s use of aerial perspective your painting will promote viewer interest with realistic depth.

Perspective for Artists by Rex Vicat Cole
Perspective for Artists
by Rex Vicat Cole
The Origin of Perspective by Hubert Damisch
The Origin of Perspective
by Hubert Damisch
The Invention of Infinity by Judith Veronica Field
The Invention
of Infinity
Judith Veronica Field


Art Is Drawing DVDs Art Is Drawing DVDs

These DVDs from the “Art Is” video series include demonstrations using a variety of drawing techniques and media to help viewers develop their skills. Artist Gerald Brommer introduces linear perspective. He shows viewers how it is essential to see perspective in order to draw it. Demonstrations include how to make one-point , two-point , and three-point perspective drawings using boxes, landscapes, and buildings. In addition, he demonstrates how to draw cylinders in perspective, such as cups, bottles, and plates. 29 minutes.

Buy Here

How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way
How to Draw Comics
the Marvel Way
Techniques of Syd Mead 1: Thumbnail Sketching and Line Drawing
Techniques of
Syd Mead 1:
Thumbnail Sketching
and Line Drawing
Escher Interactive :Exploring the Art of Infinite by Michael M, Chanowski
Escher Interactive :
Exploring the
Art of the Infinite
by Michael M. Chanowski

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