Close your eyes. Imagine that you are floating in space. There is nothing around you but void. You have the power to fill that void. The power? No, The responsibility.
Open your eyes. Let’s begin our journey by giving the void a frame of reference. Pictures are divided into two camps, portrait and landscape. Who can tell me what a portrait is?
Great! Now, how about a landscape?
Excellent! Not everything is strictly a portrait or a landscape, but most pictures are presented in either portrait or landscape form. Portrait form is a canvass or piece of paper shaped like a rectangle with the short ends on the bottom and top and the long ends on the side. When drawing landscapes we usually put the long end on the bottom and the short ends on the side.
This is an example of a portrait:
While this is a landscape:
There are design elements that both types of pictures use. Look at the portrait of Goofy, the first picture. Now look at the landscape where Goofy is walking. What are some things both pictures have in common?
I’m going to sketch a quick picture, but I won’t fill in all the space right now. I’m just roughing my picture in. I’ll have to go back later and fill in details. The first thing I have to do is select a subject. I’m going to sketch my family. I’m going to start with a horizon line. My horizon line begins on the far left side of my drawing and continues all the way to the right side. The horizon line can be straight, flowing or choppy.
What kind of horizon line is in the Goofy landscape?
In the Goofy landscape, what things do we see that are completely above the horizon line? What things are completely below? What about Goofy? Is he completely above or below? Why? What kind of things belong above the horizon lines, what kind belong below, and what kind belong in both?
In the Goofy landscape picture why do some flowers look bigger than some trees? Goofy looks bigger than the trees; is he? What do we call the space that appears close to us? What do we call the space that appears farther away?
Pick up your two pennies. Which penny is bigger? Now, hold one penny in your left hand close enough to read the date. Keep that penny there and hold the other one as far away as your right arm can reach. Which one looks bigger? Which one is bigger?
The name for the pennies’ apparent size difference is Perspective.
Why is perspective important when drawing?
My family consists of our daughter-in-law, our two year-old grandson, our two sons, my wife, and me. That is five adults and one child. Are we all the same size?
My wife is very tall, but not as tall as our sons or me. Our sons and I are all the same height. Our daughter-in-law is not very tall, but she is much taller than our grandson. How can I show our different sizes?
I’m going to place a big tree on the left side of my picture with a long flowing path that sweeps in front of the tree from the left over the hill and off the page to the right.
I’m placing our two-year-old grandson in the foreground.
Midway down the path is our younger son on the left side and directly behind him to the right is our older son and daughter-in-law.
I’m placing my wife and me way in the background of the path.
Who looks biggest in the picture?
Is that because of perspective?
Okay! Let’s try drawing a rough outdoors sketch together! I’ll design the quick sketch for you; just follow my instructions.
Take your paper and create a horizon line all the way from the left side of your paper to the right.
Good! Now add a tree in the left side. Make sure its roots are squarely below the horizon line while its trunk reaches well above.
Place yourself in the picture so you appear completely below the horizon line.
Add a friend who is partially above the horizon line.
Put two things completely above the horizon line.
Add a sun somewhere on your paper.
Your picture is just roughed in, so don’t worry about details or filling in all the space right now.
How did you do?
Great! Let’s draw a landscape picture!
If we always remember to incorporate a horizon line and perspective in our drawings we’ll be on a path to expression that can truly be masterful.