Perspective is an essential part of an artist’s toolkit. Certainly it is vital for any artist wishing to depict believable architectural space, such as the interior of a room or a street scene. It is also vital for the depiction of small, regular objects, as needed in product design.
- Perspective is an exact drawing system. Artists need not know this system in its entirety, but they should be familiar with its basics (see what is perspective?).
- Perspective is important, but there are plenty of drawings that involve little, if any, perspective (see the limits of perspective).
- Perspective is uniquely useful for a few select things (see the use of perspective).
- It is possible to teach perspective prescriptively, i.e. to instruct students exactly on how it should be employed. But we have found it is more effective to teach it from the opposite direction: by attention to common mistakes (see common mistakes in perspective).
- An honorary part of this section is angle transference, which is the master skill for the perspective artist. The perceptual impression of the angle of a line rarely corresponds with reality. Angle transference is the means by which the angle of a line may be evaluated correctly.
The following two artists are recommended as references when teaching perspective:
Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Piranesi was an 18th century artist who created magnificent etchings of fantasy ruins. We recommend almost anything from ‘Prima parte di Architetture e Prospettive’. An online collection of these prints can be found in the Complutense University of Madrid website.
Anything by the 18th century painter Giovanni Antonio Canal (Canaletto). Canaletto specialised in painting scenes of Venice, in all its architectural glory.
Perspective is specifically addressed in exercises: Perspective I: The Tabletop, Perspective II: The Box and Perspective III: Framing an Architectural Interior. It is also important to many other exercises such as those that involve geometric solids.