The Process Behind 'Stiff Upper Lip': Part 2

Missed the first part? Then Click Here.

After finally arriving at the plan that you see above, it was time to start drawing the image in proper-perspective-o-vision. Time for a quick lesson:

This painting by Okumura Masonabu entitled Large Perspective Picture of a Second-Floor Parlor in the New Yoshiwara, Looking Toward the Embankment (phew!) is a lovely example of one-point perspective. Here's how it works:

There is one Vanishing Point (V.P.) that sits on the horizon and all of the lines that go into the distance converge on this one point, hence the name one-point perspective. The train tracks head toward this point, as do the tops of the tree which we'll assume are all the same height. All of the horizontal lines in the scene stay as horizontal lines in the final image. Any vertical lines would also stay as vertical lines too. You can see how this works - albeit in a slightly more complicated fashion - in the Masonabu image.

Let's complicate things a tad by looking at two-point perspective which has two vanishing points.

Notice the two V.P.s on either side of the image: all of the horizontal lines running North to South converge on the leftmost V.P. and all of the horizontal lines running East to West converge on the rightmost V.P. The vertical lines still appear to be perfectly vertical. This form of perspective is probably the most widely used.

Three-point perspective is reserved for special cases, where things are so tall that the perspective needs an added complication. You can see the two V.Ps stuck on the horizon on the left and the right, just as with two-point perspective, but now there's an extra V.P. right up in the sky. (If you were flying around in a plane looking down on the skyscrapers the V.P would be under the ground.) The horizontal lines behave the same way as in two-point perspective. The verticals meanwhile all now converge on the upper V.P. You can see the effect on the verticals in the real world on one of these reference photos I took:

Okay, lesson over.

That was lovely, I hear you say, but what has it got to do with your painting. Well, funnily enough I had to use three-point perspective. But to make it harder I needed the buildings to be at odd angles looming over the bathysphere. This meant I had to create artificial horizons for each building, all with three vanishing points. Plus the size of the painting meant that I had to resort to some odd-looking drawing techniques, as you see here:

And yes, that pink pin stuck into the floor is my vanishing point.

This process took a long time, especially with all of the windows that also follow the rules of three-point perspective, but I think it was worth it. The buildings all appear to be toppling over on top of the bathysphere. One other point to note is that the actual horizon is at an angle sloping upwards to the right. I had to suggest this by painting the clouds at an angle.

In the final instalment, we'll look at the painting process and also how I designed the bathysphere. To whet your appetite, it involves bubble wrap, sellotape and a potato.

See you next time!

For Part 3, Click Here.

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