Category Archives: Pt 3/project 4

Part Three, Project 4, Exercise 3 -Aerial or atmospheric perspective

This exercise is about tonal gradation. When you’re working with perspective and the suggestion of distance, you should notice that tonal values become lighter as the amount of space between the eye and the horizon increases. Detail is less clear and focus steadily reduced. If there is moisture in the air greater ‘fogging’ occurs and, even on a fine day, it can seem as though veils of blue are layered across the mid to far distance.  In hot and arid zones, aerial perspective barely exists and the hottest tones (such as the reds in the rocky outcrops of the Australian desert) retain their saturated depth far into the distance.

Using drawing media such as charcoal, soft graphite, conté sticks, soft chalky pastel, oil sticks and ink, make several tonal studies that analyse receding features of the landscape from foreground to mid and far distance.  With a light touch, establish the horizon before plotting the basic forms of objects in the landscape. Analyse the gradation of tone away into the distance. You may prefer to use a single colour, using monochrome as a tonal and atmospheric tool.

We were in the perfect place for this exercise- a week away in Scotland!!


Charcoal and pencil sketchbook drawing of a riding lesson with the hills in the distance.  I only had watercolour pencils at my disposal so the drawing is fairly crude, with the background hills much more blue/ purple than the green/orange autumnal trees in the foreground. However, in spite of the clumsy drawing/colouring I think it does give a sense of distance.

Charcoal A2 cartridge paper.  Using a different hotel view as my inspiration I used charcoal to create a landscape with receding hills.  I was very pleased with this picture- the hills in the distance in the valley definitely look a long way away and merge with the cloud in the sky.  The hills in the mid ground are more contrasted against the background- which was pretty accurate compared with what I could see.  The fact they are drawn more carefully brings them further forwards.  Then the foreground is darker and has more detail of trees and fields and hedgerows.  I added a few white crayon highlights just to bring out some of the close features and help smudge in the clouds.  IMG_0864

I spent some time drawing the hotel facade with the hills in the background on a two page spread of my sketchbook.  I started it as a pencil, then an ink drawing, before proceeding to add a watercolour wash.  There are a lot of trees in the foreground on the second page which reduced the interest of the view so I only coloured a section of it.

IMG_0852 IMG_0853

The hills in the background are more grey/blue than the foreground and I do think they recede.  However, they should probably have been paler in colour to blend a little more with the sky.


I then proceeded to play around with this composition a little using acrylic inks, pastels and paint:  the resulting image of the hotel, looked ghostly and more like a castle.  paler swatches of colour created a sense of the background, merging with the sky.  Darker colours in the foreground with bright highlights brought the foreground forwards.   I was pleased with the effect as it creates a sense of a landscape without being a photorealistic representation of the scene.  I like the way the deep colours of the first wash show through and give the picture life.

IMG_0860   IMG_0861


I tried a similar approach again trying to lose even more detail whilst still capturing a sense of place/ landscape and aerial perspective.  This was much less effective- it became too random and the colours are all too bright, meaning that the sense of a foreground/ mid ground and background is lost.  The pale mid section does not work either!


I had another attempt using oil pastels, watercolour pastels and intense colour blocks.  With a little acrylic paint thrown in!  This gives a sense of fore- mid and background effectively.  The hills recede and merge with the clouds and sky.  The building has a sense of 3D form mainly because the  trees to the right are in shadow, although I have not been too particular about detail in the buildings facade, which is actually fairly 2D in representation.  It looks fairly ghostly and blurred.  The light green grass in the foreground suggests a moment of sunshine on an otherwise gloomy day.  It definitely looks cloudy in the distance.


I did a few sketchbook exercises to play around with various media and trying to get a sense of aerial perspective.  Of the three picture below the top one works the best- using oil pastels and smearing it with mineral oil.


watercolour pencils-colours too intenseIMG_0894

Pastel pencils on black paper- pencils are too fineIMG_0893

watercolour washes- foreground works best- blotches of colour in the sky are not effective



Part Three, Project 4, Exercise 2 -Two-Point or Angular perspective

Make a line drawing of a building or several buildings seen corner-on. If this isn’t possible, arrange a group of books on a table with the books all seen corner-on. The books should be different sizes, with some placed on top of others.  Use every possible vertical or horizontal reference to ensure that receding lines are drawn at the correct angles. If you’re drawing buildings remember that the vertical corner of the building itself is an excellent reference.  When you’ve drawn the objects as accurately as possible, draw in your eye level and extend receding lines to it. If you’ve drawn buildings outdoors you’ll want to do this part of the exercise afterwards at home. All parallel lines should meet on your eye level but, in this drawing, you’ll have many vanishing points and you’ll discover that most of them will be off your paper.

For this exercise I drew the outside of the rather salubrious ballet school attended by my daughter.  It is in a rather tatty warehouse on an industrial estate and I was probably sitting too close, but it was the only space in the car park!



In actual fact when I used a smaller printout of the drawing and extended the parallel lines to their vanishing points they were higher than my eye level.

I need to repeat this exercise positioned a greater distance from the building!

I chose to use a view of our village street, receding into the distance. I carefully measured and created this pencil drawing, which I think is a fair accurate representation of the scene.  It is on quite an acute angle to it forced detail to fade as the houses recede.  I tried to give a sense of place by including at the block paved roadway and wet pavements.


Ares that do not work so well are the window on the far left and the planted area to the right.  I was pleased with the shading and the sense of perspective.

I thought I would also include a guide iPad sketch of an old working mans club:  I was pleased with the perspective and looseness of the drawing:


The course book asks us to check the accuracy of this drawing by Sir Moorhead Bone:  

I did a quick copy of his drawing- which unfortunately came out rather wider than his picture.  However, I assumed most of the general perspective was close to that of the original and checked this with a ruler.  There seem to be either two vanishing points or one vanishing point somewhere on the next page of the sketchbook.


I compared the perspective of my sketch with the original, which probably indicates I have cut my lines short- they should probably cross on the next page as suspected.  However, my sketch is not as accurate as the original wherever I decide the vanishing point(s) is……  What a lovely drawing- and an even more fabulous name!!


Part Three, Project 4, Exercise 1 -Parallel perspective – an interior view

Draw a view through a doorway inside a building e.g. a corridor or hall. Try to arrange it so that there is a rectangular rug or something similar in front of the doorway. If the walls and the floor are tiled or have some kind of geometric pattern that will be ideal. Position yourself to draw so that the doorway is flat on to you, as is the rug in front of it.  Draw in line  and check the angles of all receding lines against the horizontal and vertical lines of the doorframe. Don’t use a ruler or a rubber. Draw and re-draw these angles until you think they are correct and then stop for a moment. Estimate the height of your eyes from the ground and mark on the doorframe in your drawing where this point would be. If you wish, stand next to the actual doorframe and mark the level of your eyes there. Whichever method you use, next use a ruler to draw a horizontal line across your drawing at your eye level.

I made aa A3 sketch of a view of my landing.  I was sat on the floor looking down the length of the floor, with my eyeline fairly low down.


I drew in the horizontal eyeline in red using a ruler, and then drew red receding lines to the vanishing point.  The vanishing point is the point on your eyeliner, where all the receding lines, following lines which in reality are parallel to each other, should meet.

i also drew receding lines in pencil using my drawing as a guide to see where they would meet.

I found this a surprising exercise. There are a lot of errors!  I had grappled with the radiator on the right, but in the end, after redrawing it a few times, it falls exactly in line with the theoretical red receding line!!  However, the bannisters on the left are a long way out.  I had known they weren’t right even as I was drawing it, as I could see I was looking up at the corner post and that the bannister rail should have been much more horizontal!  I realise, now that I look at the view again, that for some reason I had left out a complete doorway, which would have brought the far end of the bannisters, where they meet the wall, towards me.  This would have made sense and made it easier to draw what I was actually seeing.  As it was I couldn’t correlate what I was seeing with what I was drawing and a lot of “what I knew” was getting in the way !!

Interestingly, using the actual drawing as a guide to draw the receding lines, they do meet at approximately the same place.  However, there is no way that my eyeline was that high, as I was sat on the floor!
I found it hard to be accurate about some of the reference points- I had to go and sit on the floor next to a wall to mark my eyeline, and then I struggled to relate that to where it should be on the paper.
Here are two more attempts at this exercise, completed whilst I was staying in a hotel (great for corridors etc!)
I realise that in this picture of the bathroom doors I have created two vanishing points?  One for each door.  I was pleased that they matched up to my eyeliner however.
The next attempt was a more typical one-point perspective drawing looking directly down a corridor.  It was a slightly complex corridor to draw, with the columns and lights receding into the distance, but the main structural lines do, on the whole, disappear fairly accurately towards the vanishing point.
Does a drawing have to obey the exact rules of perspective to  still have a sense of form/perspective and atmosphere/ structure?  In some ways I enjoy the slight inaccuracies, which, as long as they are not too far out, can give a drawing life.  Knowing and understanding the rules however, can help with the construction of a drawing, especially where you are unsure.

I was interested in this video link exploring the use of one-point perspective:” /

Parallel or One-Point Perspective-  (Here is some theory taken from

There are only three kinds of lines used in one-point perspective:

  1. Vertical edges are shown as vertical lines.
  2. Horizontal edges (perpendicular to the line of sight and parallel to the ground) are shown as horizontal lines.
  3. Edges that recede (are parallel to the line of sight) are on lines that converge at the vanishing point on the horizon line.

Note that these same three (and only these three) kinds of lines are used to draw the cubes regardless to where they are in the picture.

Also note that the cube to the left, while technically correct, appears distorted. One-point perspective only depicts objects near the vanishing point with accuracy.

1point perspective