Drawing and painting figures to populate your paintings is easy enough. The tricky part is getting them to fit into their surroundings correctly.
Here we will examine how perspective can be used to correctly scale figures and place them in their surroundings.
These techniques might first look confusing, but with a little scribbling you will soon get the hang of it.
Figures in Perspective - below eye level
Click through these steps to learn how to correctly scale figures in perspective below eye level.
The first step is to draw in the horizon line then draw a figure somewhere below the line. All other figures will be correctly scaled to this figure.
Figures below the horizon line will have horizontal arcs that reinforce their position below eye level. Waist lines, hems, belts, hat brims etc. will all be curved to appear to be looked down upon. The further below eye level, the more pronounced the curve will appear and more foreshortening will occur.
Figures in Perspective - above eye level
These few steps will show you how to correctly scale figures in perspective above eye level.
The first step is to draw in the horizon line then draw in a figure somewhere
Figures above the horizon line will have horizontal arcs that reinforce their position above eye level. Waist lines, hems, belts, hat brims etc. will all be curved to appear above eye level. The higher above eye level the more pronounced the curve.
The other thing to consider, when placing figures in a painting, is the size of the figure in relation to the surroundings. Figures in front of buildings, for example, must be the correct size when compared with doors, windows, awnings etc.
In the sketch below an imaginary red vertical mark is placed in the doorway to indicate the height of a person. We can then use the above technique to correctly scale any figures we wish to place, using this mark as our reference height.
At first this might all seem too difficult, but it is well worth persevering, correctly placed and scaled figures don't stand out but when they are incorrect they can ruin an otherwise good painting.
Plus - it's a lot of fun once you get the hang of it!
Author: John Lovett