Stephanie Bower

Stephanie Bower | Architectural Illustration: | Sketching Workshops: | Sketches: on Instagram at @stephanieabower & | Urban Sketchers Blog Correspondent | Signature member of the Northwest Watercolor Society

Friday, July 6, 2018

TIP 5/10: When Buildings Twist, Multiple Vanishing Points!

Welcome to a series of 10 Sketching Tips!

#5: When Buildings Twist

Key to this concept is to remember a basic principle of perspective, that lines that are parallel to each other appear to converge to the same point.

Quick trip back to Venice. I'm standing on the upper level of the Basilica San Marco. Using my pencil, I extend the receding lines on the left side to find one vanishing point on my eye level line.

Then I use my pencil to extend the lines of the building on the right, and what happens? I get TWO vanishing points, both on my eye level line!  
So, what does this mean? It means the two buildings are actually not parallel to each other in plan (like a map view)... each facade has generated it's own vanishing point. 
Key also is that BOTH vanishing points are on my eye level line--yet another good reason to mark where your eye level line (aka Horizon Line) is located in your sketch!

Does using the two VP's for this sketch make a huge difference? Probably not, as they are so close to each other. The only way I could have realized this was by drawing it!! BUT this concept in perspective is extremely helpful to understand when you are sketching anywhere that was not built on a grid plan, like most of Europe, India, and many other places in the world.

Let's look quickly at another example in Italy. This is Civita di Bagnoregio, an amazing tiny hilltown north of Rome where I teach a sketching workshop every summer. This view is of the narrow main street behind the church. The buildings twist and turn in plan along a curving pedestrian street.

This is a diagram I made in the workshop to explain the concept of multiple vanishing points. I used my pencil to extend the vanishing lines (usually using the tops or bottoms of windows or stone courses), and lo and behold, I get three separate VP's, each on my eye level line, one for each building.

Here is a break down of the three VP's...

In summary, it's easiest to remember that when:
--the building rotates in plan toward the left, the VP shifts to the left along your eye level line
--the building rotates in plan toward the right, the VP also shifts to the right along your eye level line.

I hope this explanation helps! Happy Sketching!
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1 comment:

  1. This tip is so helpful. I finally understand why vanishing points occur in particular locations. This series of tips is something I want to practice and remember. Thank you!