I posted the first version of how to make a quick sketch of one point perspective a few months ago. I want to resurface this topic to help people who are interested to practice observational drawings with one point perspective. I created a motion image that may help to understand how to construct this drawing from the beginning.
I entered architecture school at the end of 20th century. At that time, computational tools began to appear in the architecture realm in both practice and academia. Autodesk AutoCad was perhaps the most dominate tool at that moment. The fundamental method of drawing in AutoCad does not change much compared to Alberti’s method of architectural drawing in the early Renaissance. The main difference was that drawings were generated and output through the computer instead of human hands. Since then students in architecture school have spent countless hours to learn and understand the tools.
A decade later, the new paradigm emerged with Building Information Modeling (BIM). It has changed the fundamental process of architectural drawings, and the operational method of architecture since the Renaissance era. Architectural ideas and designs are no longer generated from two-dimensional drawings such as plans, sections, etc. Instead, BIM generates the architecture as collective data in three – dimensional format. Then this computational model can generate data, and two-dimensional drawings to serve communication purposes. The current BIM software that is wildly used is Autodesk Revit. Once again, the academic and professional realms have to drastically adjust to this new paradigm shift. In academia, schools have been adjusted and taught the new set of computational tools to ensure students are prepared for the on-going modification in the profession. Additionally, students are also expected to be familiar and efficient with graphic applications such Adobe software, Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator and After Effect. It is undeniable that learning these computational tools and trying to keep up with the on-going changes are important as part of necessary skill sets for students to market themselves to prospective employers. However, the demands and expectations from architectural students also tends to increase anxiety in them. I myself have been keeping up with on-going changes since the beginning of my time in this profession and this will not end. It will continue on. I’m certain that a new tool set will replace BIM eventually. But at some point, I will no longer be able to keep up with these rapid changes.
Only one type of tool can still withstand the test time, a tool that has been used for centuries from the beginning of human civilization to the digital age of 21st century. That tool is freehand drawing. Learning this skill to use for developing design ideas and generating thoughts does not require software updates or license permissions. However, freehand drawing skills are lifelong learning skills that need constant practice in order to be good at it. The simple act of drawing only requires the artist, a pencil and a piece of paper, and perhaps the focus to generate and explore architectural ideas. As an active practitioner of drawing, it is the best tool by far that I have never experienced in my architectural career. A lot of talking, let’s draw instead!
“The encounter of artist and drawing energies, their dialogue, does not have the form of question and answer. It is an inarticulate dialogue.” -Granta
To draw is not only to represent and review, but it is also to receive. Drawing is a process of making a dialogue, but it is an internal one between the artist and their thoughts. This awareness occurs during the process of drawing. One can fully engage and merge into the act of drawing. When that occurs, one reaches a peak point of concentration and flow. During that period, you are intensely focused and your senses are fully engaged, yet you remain aware of the surrounding environment. In this way, drawing can be seen as an alternative method of meditation. Drawing is a way to explore thoughts, but not to be enslaved to one’s own thoughts. When you pause and step back to ponder is the moment you begin to receive. Drawing become a means to observing one’s thoughts.
To draw requires the intensity of noticing. When it reaches a certain degree, one becomes more aware of the intense energy that can transform through drawing. Up to this point, the subject fades into the background. The shift from looking to making occurs during the act of drawing. When this internal dialogue reaches a point of intensity, mood and energy begin to transfer back and forth between the artist and the drawing. The act of drawing is indeed a silent conversation that only the artist understands.
I saw this structure 10 years ago when I lived in Springfield, Illinois with my family. I never gave much a thought about this structure until I recently visited the town again during the holidays. It is closed to where I use to live, and it is a beautiful monolithic structure that offers a rustic quality of the place. It was a nice and sunny day during the winter month. I enjoyed the moment of siting there while trying to capture the change of light through this structure.
During New year, my family and I had a chance to visit our relative in Petersburg, IL. I had a chance to visit the historical village where the president Lincoln started his boyhood there. It was a cold day to do the out door painting, but I finished it.
Painting has much to do with light and dark. Painting provokes my awareness of being. I observe things more carefully since I have begun painting again. The simple act of painting brings me joy and offer beauty around me. I hope you see them through my work.
The principal of two-point perspective is essentially the same as one-point perspective except there will be two vanishing points on the horizontal line as the name suggested. The vertical line remain vertical and parallel in the drawing. All the horizontal lines will appear to converge to two vanishing points on the horizontal line.
Depending on the location of the object in relation to the vanishing points, the pictorial outcome will be varies.
Two-point perspective is commonly use in a perspective drawing. Due to the its nature, two-point perspective helps reveal three-dimensional quality of an object very well such as depicting a three-dimensional ideas of a building. This type of perspective can be used to display three-dimensional quality of interior spaces or courtyard area in architectural design.
When constructing two-point perspective, and to get a better result, it is better to place one of the vanishing points further away from the object, normally somewhere that is not in the drawing area.
Being able to draw a perspective drawing is one of most important skill for people who engage in drawing as part of everyday life. Particularly for observational sketching, a perspective drawing plays a significant role when one wants to convey the scene to represent depth in drawing. There are several types of perspective: one-point, two-point and three-point perspective, and each type of perspective is also divided into normal eye view, worm’s eye view, and aerial view. Constructing a freehand sketching perspective can be tricky particularly with a limited time window when you are doing outdoor sketching.
A normal eye view perspective is commonly used when doing observational sketch since it represents the actual human eye level that we normally perceive our surrounding environment. The examples below show a process of constructive a one-point perspective for rapid outdoor sketching.
Next time, I will talk about two-point perspective.
Why is it important to learn and practice on site sketching? Students often ask this common question when I take them out for on-site sketching. In situ sketching is a process of re-creation of a space in which we situate ourselves within the building and its environment. Such activity spurs us to have immediate embodiment and interaction with the building, site and surrounding environment. While sketching, we engage ourselves with not only seeing, but we also interact with the building and its surrounding environment through its materials, volume, smell, texture, temperature, existence. With all of our senses activated through the act of sketching, the particular moment allows us to develop perception both consciously and unconsciously. The experience develops our perception by focusing in on the link between line, form, texture, proportion, space, light and value, color and material. Additionally, in situ sketching engages us through the physical act of drawing when representing our thoughts and perceptions on paper. An act of on-site sketching fosters the critical correlation between mind and hand as a process of design thinking. Yet, the action of sketching cultivates a development of muscular facilitation such that sketching becomes unconscious in the creative process. While sketching a building, we see and experience a three-dimensional quality via walking through an actual building. We begin to learn, and piece together these perceptions to form a holistic understanding that goes beyond sight-seeing.¹Understanding architecture through drawing demands a certain activity from the observer. First, one needs to look at overall shape and proportion of observed architecture, and then create a rough sketch of form and shape by simple lines. Later on, one elaborates light and textures. The observation and re-creation process is an intuitive but necessary experience in order to fully understand the thing seen. In Experiencing architecture, Steen Eiler Rasmussen described a group of boys playing soccer in front of the enormous church of S. Maria Maggiore in Rome in comparison to tourists who visited the church for sight-seeing:
“I do not claim that these Italian youngsters learned more about architecture than the tourist did. But quite unconsciously they experienced certain elements of architecture: the horizontal planes and the vertical wall above the slope. And they learned to play on these elements. As I sat in the shade watching them, I sensed the whole three-dimensional composition as never before.”³
¹Jenkins, E. (2013) Drawn to Design: Analyzing architecture through freehand drawing. Basel, Birkhauser: 46.
² Rasmussen, S. (1993). Experiencing Architecture. MIT press: 17-34.