THE BIG PROJECT Draw a line in the sand
Armed with little more than a lawn rake and his laptop, James Paterson heads to the seaside to explain how to make anamorphic sand art
An anamorphic illusion is a picture or scene that only makes sense from a single vantage point. It’s an eye-catching visual trick that’s been used by artists for centuries in everything from classical art right through to those adverts we’ve all seen that are painted onto sports pitches.
To celebrate N-Photo’s 50th issue, we’ve used the ‘N’ from our logo as the basis of our own anamorphic illusion. From any position other than that of the camera, the ‘N’ looks distorted, but when it’s viewed from this singular position, everything suddenly clicks into place.
Over the next few pages, we’ll explain how to create anamorphic effects to trick the eye into believing an unnatural perspective, if only for a split second. You need a large clear expanse of ground, and a way to mark it with a design. A sandy beach is perfect, so we headed off to one of the UK’s best for our shoot. Bamburgh Castle provides a stunning backdrop for our sand art here.
You can scratch the shapes in the wet sand with a rake, but that’s the
The challenge is to mark out the exact position of each point in the design so that you can draw the shape… It’s an involved project, and ideally you need at least two people
easy part. The challenge is to mark out the exact position of each point in the design so that you can draw the shape in perspective. To do this, you need to do something that feels a little wrong: bring a laptop to the beach! You can then tether the laptop to the camera to get a Live View feed, and overlay a semi-transparent design on top using third-party tethering software. Then, using the on-screen feed as a guide, you can plot out the corner points of the design on the sand with pegs and string.
It’s an involved project, and ideally you need at least two people to pull it off, but the results are playful and eye-catching. And the beauty of it is, once you know how it’s done, you can create any shape you like.