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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > Summer 17 > Focus on perspective

Focus on perspective

Perspective is one of the main considerations in cityscapes. Hashim Akib shows you how to highlight ways of seeing and apply the principles to enhance your work

Perspective is concerned with creating the illusion of depth and space in order to make a painting or drawing appear naturalistic. Everything in the depiction of a cityscape follows the laws of perspective – buildings are the most obvious but this includes windows, doors, pavements and lines of lamp posts. Light sources also create perspective lines, which show in the movement of shadows.

The easiest place to start to create a sense of depth is by ‘overlapping’. Quite simply, placing one element in front of another will instantly create depth. In cityscapes this could be a car or lamp post in front of a building; obviously the closer the element the larger it appears to be. Just by using this technique you can easily build up quite a complex scene by adding more overlapping shapes. Once you understand this concept you can start to arrange the components in a more realistic environment.

Where to begin

Try to rely on freehand drawing when depicting any perspective lines as a ruler or set square will make the process far too technical. You might use one of these aids when looking at your reference photograph to gauge the main diagonals and to see where they converge at the vanishing points. It is worth examining whether an image contains mainly one-, two- or threepoint perspective as, again, knowing where the main lines converge can help in guiding most of your diagonals. Roughly plot where the vanishing point may lie and begin drawing several diagonal lines that reach out to create the framework to then apply the main shapes. If the scene involves two- and three-point perspective you may require other vanishing points to plot multiple diagonal lines. Discovering the main diagonals of a large building or large foreground element such as a bus will help in discovering smaller elements. Avoid being too obsessive about following every single perspective line on every building as this will soon become a chore. Be aware that certain buildings may not follow perspective lines too closely because of their age, land shifts or because the angle is slightly different from the rest.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our summer issue packed with ideas and tips for painting outside, including Paul Weaver's demonstration showing how to capture the spirit of the seaside in watercolour. Watercolourists will also love Paul Talbot-Greaves' focus on how to use neutral and dark colours to add impact to your paintings, Julie Collins' advice on using ultramarine blue, and our review of the fabulous exhibition of John Singer Sargent's watercolours at Dulwich Picture Gallery. There are inspirational features on mastering perspective, capturing a likeness of a family member in oils, painting the figure alla prima, how to create movement in wildlife paintings in acrylics, and why you should consider the use of digital technology to support your traditional painting methods. Our artists also share their views on the new Winsor & Newton professional canvases and Jaxell's extra fine pastels, while our cover artist, Eileen Cooper OBE, RA talks about her own work, as well as the organisation and decision making behind this year's Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. All this and much more to inspire a summer of successful drawing and painting!
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