Watercolor Perespective

This word perspective is as welcome in your thoughts as a 7-letter word – dentist.

In this day and age, neither should carry those strong negative thoughts that you have about them.

This article will give all the information you will need to handle Perspective, and have a warm fuzzy confident feeling, “I now understand the position.”  Modern dentistry is no big deal now compared to a hundred years ago, so go ahead make that appointment now.

Perspective Creates Depth

The illusion of depth on a 2-dimensional piece of paper is one of the greatest challenges an artist faces.

We work on a flat surface.  To create the illusion of space and distance in a painting, we need to consider perspective.

There are two kinds of perspective that we need to understand.

The first is “aerial perspective,”  also known as atmospheric or color perspective.  It refers to the way we perceive things at a distance.

The second is”linear perspective,” concentrating on convincingly portraying solid objects in our work.

Aerial Perspective

Aerial perspective, known as “atmosperic or color” perspective, it refers to the way you perceive things at a distance.  Let’s begin by looking at the five layers of hills that get closer and closer (deeper and stronger paint).  Don’t worry about the color in this case, just notice how stronger the paint becomes as it gets to where you are standing.

Notice clouds do the same, more color and detail at the top of the page, smaller clouds as they float away from you.

That’s it, that is all there is to know about aerial perspective.

Linear Perspective

And on to linear perspective.  Objects close to us appear larger than those further away, even though we know that in truth they are of similar proportions.  Think of a long straight road. The distance between the curbs will diminish into the distance until they ultimately become one and disappear. This is called the “vanishing point.”

watercolor painting-vanishing-perspective

One Point Perspective

The road demonstrates one point perspective having just one vanishing point.

With a few construction lines to guide us, we can add a row of houses to the picture.

Because the building is to be parallel to the road, it will share the same vanishing point.

Using the construction lines as a guide, the building can be sketched in. Notice that not only do things get smaller, but the space between them also diminishes with distance. I will show you how this is portrayed accurately a little later. We can now erase the construction lines.

I know this is not the most exciting pages you have ever read, but I am doing my best. Read this, study, and you will thank me. It’s tough, but you can do it.

Watercolor picture depicting single vanishing perspective
Watercolor Painting of Perspective at Eye Level

Although the lines of the building have been drawn accurately, I have deliberately not used aerial perspective in its coloring, consequently the far end of the building is just as dark.

Students always ask, “Will I always have to draw all of the construction lines.  Most certainly not, get the idea of construction lines to the vanishing point in your head with your positioning at eye level, and you are all set to make paintings realistically looking not having roof lines, windows and door lines all going off in strange directions.

One, point perspective can also be used to place multiple same-size objects throughout the picture going away from the viewer. Note, the space between them with narrow.

One-point perspective can also be used to place multiple same size objects throughout the picture going away from the viewer. Note, the space between them with narrow.

Watercolor paining of one-point perspective

You will now be shown how to place the poles equal distance from each other but in perspective. This can be used for columns, arches, windows, doors etc.

watercolor painting of perspective for columns, arches, windows, doors

Draw in the first post and place the vanishing point your choice on the horizon line. Now, add the second post; now you will have to judge the distance that you see between the first and second post.

Watercolor painting of drawing perspective

Mark both posts at their halfway point.

Drawing prespective

Draw a dotted line through both halfway points to the vanishing point. Draw a line from the first post through the halfway point of the second post, all the way to the bottom of the triangle.  At that point is where the third post goes. Follow the previous instructions for the fourth post etc.

Watercolor painting of drawing perspective

Two-Point Perspective

Watercolor painting 2-point perspective

You place the first dark line which will be the height of the building wall; it will be the nearest part of the building to you, The building could be on a corner. Again, place the vanishing points anywhere on the eye level. Draw in the four construction lines to the vanishing point. Now, for a window, you decide the distance from the corner and the height. Now draw a line from the bottom and the top to the vanishing point.

Watercolor painting step for painting perspective

If it is necessary to get the windows exactly in perspective, follow the instructions given for poles to place them correctly.

Do I do all these construction lines? NO, but understanding the very principals allows one to eyeball them correctly.

We will add a gable end roof to this building. First, we will need to imagine that it is made of glass and include the walls we cannot really see.

First, mark the ends of the building.

Step to drawing prospective

Assuming the building is not crooked and has a regular rectangle as a base, the front and back walls will be parallel to the two ends. So, the same vanishing points can be used to create the walls we cannot really see.

Watercolor Example of walls
Watercolor Example of lines crossing

Where the two sets of dotted construction lines cross we establish the far corner of the building.

Watercolor Vanishing Point example

Without some erasing as we go all these construction lines can become confusing, however do not erase the vanishing points.

Watercolor painting example of Perspective

We now need to know the center of the building’s gable ends, but this is not just a case of measuring half way. Draw construction lines from the corners where they cross. This establishes the center of the end walls. Now, draw a vertical line from where they meet and that will position the apex of the roof. Draw in the height and pitch of the roof from your reference material.

Watercolor example of top roof

The top of the roof is parallel to the front of the house so use the right hand vanishing point again.

Watercolor example

Where the construction line passes through the vertical line at the far end of the house marks the end of the roof, and we can place the final roof line of the far gable.

Watercolor Example

Get the eraser out again and remove all the unwanted lines.

Watercolor example

Poorly drawn objects can stand out a mile in otherwise beautifully painted scenes.

Another common element you may wish to convey is rows of posts, fence posts, lamps etc.