Wednesday, October 9, 2013


 by Anthony Baus

 figure drawing by Rebecca C. Gray 

This exercise begins with a fully rendered figure drawing. Construction of the background adheres to rules of linear perspective, creating an environment of a scale relative to the chosen scale of the figure.

The first step is to decide on the height of your figure using either the model’s actual height or a chosen height, I went with her actual height which was 5’6”. The units were divided as such and placed on a vertical to the left indicating one foot increments. The units were also placed on the horizontal ground line at her feet. All objects equidistant as the figure from the picture plane can be measured by these units both vertically and horizontally. Any objects forward or beyond the ground line will adhere to units receding or projecting from the ground line via the central vanishing point. The horizon line was set by eye level when the figure was drawn from life.

A station point (my distance from the picture plane) is decided upon, dictating the visual incline of the ground plane. The further away the station point the flatter the incline. I proceed to construct a grid on the ground using basic 2 pt. perspective and plot my original one foot units back into space. I try to place as many units back into the space as needed depending upon how deep the space will be. You will see that the further back you go the closer the units become, rendering them indecipherable in which case judgment by eye will help you most when placing objects at further distances. Use of the central vanishing point is used to locate larger distances even deeper into the space.   

This environment basically consists of three objects: a candelabra with goat heads, a figural flagpole base (both actual objects located at the New York Public Library), and a turtle.  These objects have been multiplied to showcase the potential depth of a picture and remind the artist of their power of illusion. By simplifying these objects into basic geometrical shapes they can now easily be plotted on the grid and can be pushed around the space as needed.

A - footprint of acanthus leaf bowl atop candelabra
B - footprint of model's forearm

I begin with the foreground candelabra which is carefully placed so that the figure’s arm rests on the front of the acanthus leaf bowl atop. This was done by locating the arm’s footprint on the ground as well as the candelabra’s footprint and proceeding to construct accordingly.

The geometry of the tilted candelabra on the right was figured by 2pt. perspective operations along a vertical trace using basic vanishing and measuring points. The upper left corner of my picture has the geometry for the flag pole base. It is multiplied and pushed deeper into the space using the central vanishing point and measuring points.  The turtle exists in the middleground and background by simple use of the central vanishing point, indicating it’s height and width at any given depth in the space.

With the geometry of our objects carefully planned out we can now proceed with drawing them within their given geometrical boundaries, being sure to place our easels the same distance in relation to the object as indicated in the drawing. Sometimes this may be difficult as in the case with the tilted candelabra and high up flagpole base. As for the former I was lucky enough that it was raised off the ground allowing me to sit below it and close in order to achieve its illusion. The same goes for the flagpole base which is not as high off the ground as my picture indicates. When setting up my easel I imagine drawing a line from my eye at the station point to the object and positioning myself along that line of sight, allowing to adjust the easel accordingly.

Shadows were constructed as the final step in the process.  Knowing the angle and bearing of the original light source used when drawing the model was considered in figuring the overall light effect. This will however be a subject for a future blog post!

Anthony Baus is a fourth year student. This past summer he co-taught a perspective workshop
with Sam Wisneski, Perspective Drawing Workshop: Beginning to Applied. GCA will be offering
a perspective class this spring as well as another workshop this summer. Stay tuned for our upcoming


Ariel Gulluni said...

Wonderful post!
Thanks for sharing the process!

Arthur Haywood said...

This is awesome! Thank you so much for explaining this Anthony Baus.

Jose Pardo said...


Christopher Adam Lessley said...

This is a great article, revealing the science behind perspective and how to think about correctly placing the figure within it. Thank you for posting it.

Christopher Adam Lessley said...

Thank you to Rebecca, Anthony and of course the GCA for posting this article and revealing some of the science behind how to place a figure within proper perspective.