By Marion Boddy-Evans
Viewpoint is the spot (point) from which you, the artist, is looking at (viewing) the scene. Linear perspective is worked out according to this viewpoint. There’s no right or wrong choice of viewpoint, it’s simply the first decision you make when beginning to plan your composition and figure out the perspective.
Normal viewpoint is how an adult sees the world when standing up. When painting in a realistic style, this is the viewpoint you’ll probably use because it’s what we’re accustomed to seeing. It’s what looks most real.
A low viewpoint is when you’re looking at a scene from much lower than you would standing up. For instance if you were sitting on a chair, had crouched down onto your heels or, even lower down, sitting on the grass. Of course, it’s also the level from which small children see the world.
A high viewpoint is when you’re looking down on a scene. You might be on a ladder, up a hill, on the balcony of a tall building.
The rules of perspective don’t change between a normal, low, or high viewpoint. The same rules apply in all cases. What changes is what you see in a scene. The rules of perspective help us interpret and understand what we’re seeing, and enable us to “get it right” in a painting.
Perspective Assignment #1: Using a pencil or pen in your sketchbook, do at least twothumbnail sketches of two different scenes from both a standing and a low viewpoint. Start by drawing an outline of the shape of your canvas, say a rectangle that’s 2×1″, then put down the main lines and shapes of the scene. Label the thumbnails “viewpoint”, so you’ll remember why you did them at a later date.