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3 Easy Ways to Add Depth to Drawings (Perspective)- Podcast #34

This is the first half of our discussion of the 7 Methods of Perspective. In these two episodes, we chat about all the ways to add depth to your two-dimensional artwork. In this episode, we discuss: Overlap, Horizontal Placement, and Size.

In episode 35 we’ll cover the other 4 Methods of Perspective: The Methods of Perspective, part 2

I have a whole chapter on the methods of perspective in my Anyone Can Teach Art book and I also have a Methods of Perspective poster you can purchase that shows them all in one place!

The Methods of Perspective

The Methods of Perspective are the ways we can create the illusion of Form (three dimensions) in a flat work of art. The goal is to create the look of depth in a way that “makes sense” to our eyes.

Learning about each of these gives us a way to articulate what we see. Remember, drawing is more about seeing than fine motor skills!  Artists with natural talent will already use many of these without realizing it. However, for those of us who tend to be far more left brained (anyone with me?), knowing these methods can help us figure out why something looks “wrong” to us. (I put “wrong” in quotes because sometimes, especially in abstract art, we’re drawing them a little wonky on purpose.)

Here are the 7 Methods of Perspective:

  1. Overlap
  2. Horizontal Placement
  3. Size
  4. Shadows
  5. Angle of Lines
  6. Degree of Detail
  7. Color

General Tips When Teaching the Methods of Perspective

  • Self-discovery is slow. No one needs to reinvent art techniques and skills. Take time to learn these tricks and tips so you can draw the illusion of depth accurately and realistically. Once you know all the ‘rules’ then you can decide when and how you want to break them!
  • Practice in everyday life by practicing seeing- not just when you’re creating art.
  • Students often don’t have the language to talk about depth and perspective. So, they won’t ask you to help them ‘achieve more accurate depth in their drawing.”  Instead, they’ll say something like, “I don’t know. It just looks wrong.” Teach these concepts and the vocabulary that goes with them so students know where they want to improve.

Specific Tips for Each Method of Perspective

1. Overlap– an object partially covered by another object will look farther away than an object with nothing overlapping it.

This one is simple and intuitive. However, young children tend to draw everything without overlap. Encourage them to try drawing some overlapped objects. Older students and adults may find an overlap challenge when drawing people and animals.

2. Horizontal Placement– an object closer to the horizon will look farther away

We’re often told to put objects that are farther away higher on the paper, but that’s only true for objects on the ground. Instead, teach students to place objects that are farther away closer to the horizon line.

  • Horizon Line: the horizontal (side to side) line where the sky meets the land or water. (aka. Eye Level)

3. Size– smaller objects will appear farther away

This one is as simple and intuitive as Overlap, but it’s still easy to forget when you’re focused on drawing the shape of something perfectly. Plan your composition (where each subject is on the paper) ahead of time to make the best use of Size!

In the next episode (#35, coming soon!), we’ll cover the other 4 ways to add the illusion of depth to your drawings. They’re slightly more advanced methods, so learn these three first!

Again, I have a whole chapter on the methods of perspective in my Anyone Can Teach Art book and I also have a Methods of Perspective poster you can purchase that shows them all in one place!

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