Perspective Lines
Setup (PLS) Tools

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Gary Tonge
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Advanced Techniques
Once you have mastered the use of perspective lines in your drawings or paintings, try applying these advanced techniques:

Curvilinear Perspective
Foreshortening
Unconstrained Z-axis

Tool: Download the Perspective Lines Setup Tool to quickly set up your scene.


Curvilinear Perspective (bending perspective lines)

Instead of using straight perspective lines, the next step which can add further dramatic appeal is to bend some or all of your lines (ie. not individual lines, but all lines of an axis; x,y, and/or z). This is referred to as Curvilinear Perspective, Fisheye Perspective, Barrel Distortion, Pincushion Distortion, 5-point Perspective...

Example A: Pincushion (left) and Barrel or Fisheye (right) perspective lines. Distorting your lines in this fashion help create the illusion of curving away or towards the viewer. Barrel and Pincushion perspective lines

Example B: Straight, or Rectilinear, perspective (left) and the same image using Curvilinear perspective (right). Image by Ashley Pomeroy (link). Rectilinear and Curvilinear Perspective


horizontal line Foreshortening

Foreshortening is a technique used to accurately draw equal distances going towards a point on the horizon. Think telephone polls alongside a road which moves into the distance. Although the power polls are evenly spaced apart, the optical illusion created by perspective requires a certain method to be used in order to fully understand and draw the space properly. Here's a quick exercise to explain this technique.

  Using the Perspective Lines Setup Tool, quickly set up a simple one point perspective scene. Foreshortening - Step one
Using a vanishing point on the horizon, draw 2 vertical lines. Space these lines apart however much you like. Foreshortening - Step two

Draw a straight line starting from the bottom of the fist vertical line and continuing through the center of the second line. Create you next vertical line where the line meets your vanishing points orthogonal line.

Note: The vertical center in this example happens to also be the horizon. This isn't always the case.

Foreshortening - Step three
Continue this pattern to draw more lines accurately into the distance. Foreshortening - Step four
Following the rules of foreshortening, and adding in atmospheric perspective, result in drawings very pleasing to the eye. Foreshortening example


horizontal line Unconstrained Z-axis

Your scenes vanishing points help guide you when your drawing but sometimes the need will arise for a point which has nothing to do with your current setup. Lights are a good example of this. An outdoor scene may have the sun shining from somewhere in the sky, or inside you may have a lamp lighting up a desk. Using an unconstrained z-axis can help you understand where your light source starts and the direction it hits objects in your scene.

Example: Using the sun as an example, an unconstrained z-axis guide will help you decide where light and shadow will hit objects in you scene. Unconstrained Z-axis

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