Measuring Height to Width


Drawing Fundamentals: Perspective and Angle


Lesson Info

Measuring Height to Width

We talked about height to width, and we talked about measurement. And I just want to, using this as a motif, I just want to review a few of those ideas, because in addition to perspective, which is very important, just pure perceptual drawing of an object, and being able to relate and talk about its position, and its relative measurement to itself in space is super important. So I want to make sure that you understand these ideas, and I want to talk through some of the ideas that I think about when I'm trying to establish that. So, once again, we're just gonna use this same motif of this block in two point perspective. So I'm just gonna quickly kind of go through, and just create this block again. And, I want to just look at some of the relative heights and widths of the block, which can sometimes be surprising when you actually look at it and say, "Wow, I can't believe that's so small, or so big." So it's all relative. It's not like I'm comparing this block to something else. I'm actu...

ally comparing this block to itself, in terms of measurement. So, here we have a block, great. How would I decide that this edge between here and here, has a certain measurement? So, let's talk about the distance, we've done this a little bit. So, this is a really easily measured distance. It's coming right at me. I can see it in space, and I can relate it to what's happening across the top of it. This is, what we really have to get past is what intellectually we tell ourselves about measurement. Because with perspective, there's foreshortening. Foreshortening basically means that something that is three inches, if I measured it it's three inches long, when I put it in space and I'm looking across it, it's gonna diminish. It's length is gonna diminish visually. And unless we can establish that foreshortening, or that diminishment, then it won't sit in space well. This happens, for instance, if someone's drawing ... So, the camera's on this pencil. If someone's drawing this pencil like this, it's what it is. It's probably about, I don't know, eight inches long. But if I turn it in space like this, and someone tries to draw it, it's not eight inches long anymore. It's more like two inches long. And that's a really important thing to start to learn about, is foreshortening. It happens in a more subtle way here, where rather than this block being tipped up, and drawn from this angle, see if I can do this in the camera, it's being drawn from that angle. So, big, small. Big, small. But it's still the same surface. The brain wants it to be that. The brain keeps telling the eye it's this. But in fact, you have to make it smaller to make it believable. So, yeah. So measurement is for me the surefire way to reinforce that. So let's just go through that one more time. If I take a measurement of this side, and I can do that visually, just by taking my pencil and getting a reading on it. And then I can take that and say how many of these fit across the top edge? Well, from my view, drawing this box, the distance between here and here, is about the same- is the same as the distance from there to there. Which is, again, my brain doesn't want that to be the case, but there it is. So, I've got this distance is a foreshortened distance. I've got this distance, which is more straightforward. So, that relationship, just knowing that to that, that they're the same, really helps us. Because if we made this box bigger, made this bigger, again it would feel like it was flipping up towards us. This becomes interesting, because, in terms of measurement, what happens between here and here, because of perspective, the distance between here and here, is actually gonna be greater than the distance between here and here. Because of these two lines diminishing towards each other, converging in space, as we go along that linear progression, if we were measuring in the foreground of that linear progression, there's gonna be a wider distance here than there is here. So that's another measurement thing that you really wanna keep track of, is that this is gonna get narrower, if you're following this perspective, and that's gonna help it again kind of squish down and get more believable. And then the other angle I think here that's important to measure, or to compare to, would be the other side, would be maybe what's happening along, between here and here, because that's sort of angled away from you, and sometimes it's really tricky to kind of get a sense of what's happening in terms of that distance. So, if I go back to my ... I'm gonna kind of call this one my measurement anchor. It feels like my anchor. I keep going back to it. It's pretty steady. If you were drawing the figure, you might use the head as a unit of measurement for everything else. In this case, maybe I'm calling this width my unit of measurement. I'm not skipping around. So I'm gonna take this unit of measurement again, and I'm gonna turn it on its side, and I'm actually noticing that once again this distance from here to here, believe it or not, is just about the same as that height. And if you look at this block in reality, this width right here is very different than the length of that. But because this is skewed away from us in space, that length is absolutely reducing itself. So, measurement is really key. Placing angles is really key. We want to make sure that with all we know now about one point perspective, and two point perspective, we really want to make sure that we understand that, in addition to that conceptual knowledge, in addition to all the measurement, our perceptual drawing of physical objects in front of us, we can use all those tools to help us, bring together to help us draw these with more accuracy, and ultimately more expression. The things that we've covered in this session have included one and two point perspective. What are the differences, what are the scenarios that we'd use for one or the other? We've talked about placing angles, setting angles, measuring forms. And we've also talked a little bit about composition, and negative space, and foreshortening. So, all of that comes into play when we're trying to draw these shapes in space. What comes next? So, you practice drawing blocks. What are some block-like shapes? You might have a cigar box at home. You might have some Legos. You might have, I don't know, regular wooden blocks. Maybe some cereal boxes. There's a lot of things in the kitchen that you could certainly use to help you practice drawing these 3D shapes. So I'm encouraging you to do that, and maybe think about, I remember when my daughter was little, I would walk into her room, and there'd be Legos everywhere. And every day I'd go in and they'd be in a different position. And I used to think if I had time, it would be really cool to do a series of drawings of all these Lego blocks in different positions each day, like a diary. Well, I didn't really have time at the time to do that, but something where you see something, day after day shifting or changing, drawing simple buildings for sure is something you can practice. But just simple block-like shapes is a great place to start. So, after you master that, and play with it for a while, the next steps to creating three dimensionality with block-like shapes, as well as other shapes, would be adding some tonality to them. Because when light hits an object, it starts to reinforce its three dimensionality in a big way. So, when we talk about that, here's a sketch where we have a bunch of blocks. In fact, these blocks right here, that I've had on the table through this conversation. Working with basic blocks and a direct light source, so that you can move from there to there. That's the frosting on the cake in my opinion. You could crosshatch until the cows come home, which that is, crosshatching, but unless you have your blocks drawn believably, or drawn well, it's really not gonna hold up. So everything we just did in this unit, is so important in this course, in order to create strong, stable shapes, upon which we can add this beautiful tonal rendering. And then, over time, this is an artist friend of mine, Andrew Edman, a piece he did several years ago, quite a few years ago. Over time, you can sort of unfold it. And use these ideas about perspective to create more imaginative work. More sort of dramatic work. So this detail of a drawing that he did, which I love, has this sort of decay, but also structure. And there's a lot of really cool mark making. But, it's clear that he knows something about perspective here, right? It's not like a formal perspective drawing, but it's clear that that's some kind of structure that exists in space. It's somewhat a two point perspective. So it's really interesting to see what different artists will do with this. So, in our next movie, in our next lesson, our class, we're gonna be working with shapes like blocks, and also egg shapes, and how we might transition them into tonal rendering in that way. How we wrap lines around them. And then how that might transition into, this is an old drawing from the, I think early 1900s, where someone drew a quince, but look at how beautifully they managed not only the rendering of the shapes, but also the tonality. So, I'm so glad you were able to be with us on CreativeLive today. It was great talking about one point and two point perspective with you. Thank you so much for watching, and please don't forget that practice, and practice, and practice doing lots of drawings is really the only way to kind of get these ideas fluid, and get them down on the paper. And you can upload those drawings to our student gallery. And there's a possibility of getting some critique on those, and it's also a great forum to have for people to share their drawings. And it's very motivational too, to say, "You know what, I'm gonna upload this." And see if you can get some feedback on it. So, thank you so much for watching, and keep on drawing.

Class Description

This beginner-friendly class will teach you essential techniques for drawing realistically. Understand perspective and how to sight angles for better accuracy. Instructor Amy currently teaches in the Fine Art departments of several New England colleges including Rhode Island School of Design's Certificate Program and she has exhibited her work nationally, winning numerous grants and awards.

This class covers:

  • Practicing 1-Point vs 2-Point perspective
  • Learning how to sight angles and place them with accuracy
  • Measuring relationships of height to width

A series of practice pages will be provided to get you started. You’ll draw three dimensional forms from multiple angles, and learn perspective that applies to landscape drawings, buildings, and still life.


DiDi Hendley

Excellent instructor! Simple to understand instructions, told in few words. Thanks Ms. Wynne and CreativeLive!

Wendy Nelson

Fantastic - I learned so much and got answers to things I was struggling with. This is a great beginner class.