I want to paint a scene with a low eye level – any tips?
Sandra Cooke, England
Creating a low eye-level image can be great fun, just as a high one can. The main thing I think about when tackling the scene is that the same general rules of perspective apply as for other compositions.
So, objects appear smaller the further you are from them. Lines appear to converge, so that tall buildings seen from ground level may appear to be leaning together. This is a visual trick of course, just as the rules of perspective are. You’ll find that the distortion around the edges of a scene with an extreme low eye-level will tend to look unnatural. This is acceptable if that’s what you’re after, but you do need to be aware of the limitations of what you can get away with.
Let’s go all fairy tale and paint a giant, from ground level. I sketch out our lofty one first and even have him leaning back slightly in a stomping pose. This introduces some foreshortening and overlapping forms. All that means is that shapes nearer the viewer partially obscure the ones behind, like a tennis ball in front of a football for example.
Our giant’s foot is closest to the viewer and so it seems large compared to his leg, which also appears shorter than if viewed square on and has diminishing proportions. In turn, his torso is proportionally smaller again and so on, all the way up to his head. And you can’t see his neck at all – that’s some foreshortening for you!
Perspective rules are crucial for implying a low eye-level. Haze makes distant things appear
fainter and less distinct.