Linear Perspective and the Illusion of Space Linear perspective is a mathematical system for creating the illusion of space and distance on a flat surface.
To use linear perspective an artist must first imagine the picture surface as an "open window" through which to see the painted world.
Renaissance artists experimented with ways to create the illusion of deep space on a flat surface. They figured out that in real life, parallel lines (for example, a road) appear to converge, or meet, as they recede into the horizon.
Straight lines are then drawn on the canvas torepresent the horizon and "visual rays"connecting the viewers eye to a point in thedistance.
The horizon line runs across thecanvas at the eye level of theviewer. The horizon line iswhere the sky appears to meetthe ground.
From our point of view, when we look at School of Athens (next slide) it is hard to tell where the real architecture ends and the painted arches begin. It is as if we are looking through the wall it is painted on and into the next room. In that room are some of the great thinkers of history who inspired Raphael, including the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle in the center.
Raphael, The School of Athens, 1508, Fresco, Approximately 18 x 26 ft., Stanza dellaSegnatura, Vatican Palace, Vatican State
You can see the transverse lines in the staircase of the School of Athensby Raphael
Two Vanishing PointsWhen a cube or any other rectilinear object ispositioned so that the corner, instead of theside, is closest to us, we need two vanishingpoints to draw it.
The square in the foreground is not parallel to the picture plane or to the paintedarchitecture and is in two-point perspective.
Figure Placement and SpaceThe size of each figure is drawn to scale according toits distance from the viewer (you); thus the entiregroup seems natural.The closer a figure is to the foreground of the paintingor to the viewer; the larger the figure will be.The farther the figure is from the viewer the smallerthe figure will be.
The same idea is applied to drawing parts of the body on a flat surface. This is called foreshortening. This technique is applied so that the body looks as it would in three dimensional space.
Figures in Space• Without the use of the architectural space and the structures surrounding the figures in the fresco, it would be much more difficult to point out the most important figures.• The surroundings help situate the figures in space and give them importance.