November 4, 2013

A little perspective

I teach a few classes I love at ACAD. Here are the perspective class white board notes for my teen drawing class at ACAD, the days topic drawing objects in perspective. The goal for artists is to to create a 3 dimensional representation on a two dimensional surface using the rules and geometry of perspective.
I like to start the class drawing the basic shapes that are the building blocks of art. Square, circle, triangle, cone, cylinder and torus. Then we jump into the idea of constructing shapes using isometric drawing. I so metric drawing uses This style is often used in drafting, video games; like Qbert, sim games like Zoo tycoon and The Age of Civilization and the ever so popular Minecraft. Ancient Japanese art used this method to describe large spaces by placing things further back by placing them higher up in the picture plane. Isometric projection, when you blow things apart is most often used to plan and design industrial objects, engineering, mechanics, machining, as well as to help you assemble Lego and your ikea furniture. It is a great starting point in transforming a simple square into a cube. From there the possibilities are endless as you can use simple shapes to create much more complex and organic forms.
When I went to Ladysmith Secondary School, I was very lucky to take drafting as an elective. In this class we were taught how to read and create orthographic drawings. These are multiple drawings from various sides used to describe a 3D object. Here, I show how with a side, top and front drafting view you can turn the information into an isometric drawing of the object. This teaches how flat surfaces can be translated into a 3D representation of the object. Very important in designing and creating things, kinda like CAD on paper. Of course, in school this was the simple first object we tried. Of course, it got far more complex as we progressed in our education.
The above examples are not perspective but how to create 3 dimensional drawings on a 2 dimensional surface.

Perspective (from Latin perspicere, to see through) in the graphic arts, such as drawing, is an approximate representation, on a flat surface (such as paper), of an image as it is seen by the eye. The two most characteristic features of perspective are that objects are drawn:
  • Smaller as their distance from the observer increases
  • Foreshortened: the size of an object's dimensions along the line of sight are relatively shorter than dimensions across the line of sight
from Wikipedia - The free encyclopedia:

 To really get the sense of things going off into the distance as perspective does you need to first learn 1 point perspective. One point is great for distant landscapes and was developed around the 5th century and developed in the Medieval era. Graphical perspective based on mathematics and didn't really mature into the way we know it until the Renaissance. Here all objects above or below the horizon collect to one vanishing point in the distance on the horizon line.
1 point is often used for interiors as well, in cartoons or any time you are staring at a flat wall. The horizon gets blocked but if you put a window in the right place you can see it. All verticals and horizontal remain constant on straight objects everything else recedes to the vanishing point making it very easy to draw train tracks, telephone poles and tiled floors.
Then we try two point perspective. This type is used when looking at the corner of the object coming toward you or receding into space. I love daring block lettering with this technique. This type of perspective drawing is used everywhere, most often in architectural renderings. By placing a vanishing point on either end of the horizon you can really describe perspective well. After the students follow along in their notebooks as I do the drawing demo I give them the method of constructing a simple bird house in Isometric and them have them translate it into a 2 point perspective drawing. The sloped roof is the real test of understanding the rules of 2 point perspective as it is angled and does not follow the rule of vertical or horizontal and so they must figure out how to situate it so it looks correct before we carry onto the next challenge.
As a challenge, I get them to draw the same room in 2 point but from the interior. I ask them to add the objects in their bedroom using what they have learned. The trick here is that verticals stay vertical but horizontal lines converge to either of the two points instead of staying parallel to the horizon line. I added this fish tank with light refraction on request by the student who drew the squid on the board beside my first set of white board notes. lol.
I then taught 3 point perspective but must have accidentally deleted the pics off of my iPhone without noticing before making this blog post:( We drew skyscrapers from a birds eye view and worms eye view. More often I draw a church from worms eye view as it helps show how distorted space becomes at the steeple if your vanishing points are close together. While explaining when you are drawing everything takes your perspective in your world and thus you are the god plus I usually draw a church one my students asked me to put these into god perspective so I called birds eye view angels view and worms eye view the view from praying on your knees. I went one step further and called one heaven and the other hell. Dry yes, but it gave me a ridiculous "literal" chuckle. Dry I know.
We looked at some of the great 1st year examples that were hung in the hallway that week while eating the Halloween candy we were given by my boss to devour. I abstained, as most were from the company Nestle, which I wholeheartedly boycott due to their openly stated evil corporate desires to privatize the worlds natural water resources for their profit. That aside, I teach foreshortening of cylinders using a nearby paper towel roll and expelling how ellipses and work. I then show in steps how to properly draw circles in perspective using the steps drawn to get the proper centre and axises using geometry to help construct the proper circle in perspective. This is so useful for drawing coffee cups and bottles and more, if it is done well it really sells the drawing, if not it looks so wrong. I cover spheres quickly as they pretty much always look the same, a shaded circle. There are other means and methods but this is a lot to cover and assimilate in just one class.

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