Perspective in portrait?


I’ve been told on another forums to use perspective in portraits - with the vanishing point, line of sight and help lines. But yesterday an art teacher I know told me that perspective should not be used in portrait - for we see portraits from a distance long enough that perspective does not change eye’s size etc. What do you think of it?

I have no experience, have never took any serious drawing lessons so all I know in this matter I learn from you. In fact I always thought that such use of perspective was exaggeration for no matter how close I am to another person - in a decent distance to have comfortable vision - their face features are not in perspective and we do not look at world with a fish eye lenses. I believe now that it could rather be used on purpose to show a different dimension, world, plan or state of mind, not our real environment. And if there is any difference it should be barely visible.


If you are rendering something realistically, you are using perspective.
In a traditional portrait, you don’t usually need to draw out the line of sight though to make a convincing drawing. You are so close to the subject matter, that the vanishing point would be really far off your page. Perspective is there, but it is subtle.
However, if you were to do a really exaggerated pose from an unusual angle, it would probably help to draw a grid to establish the vanishing point.

Hope that makes sense. :slight_smile:


Thank you, yes it does. I am aiming into realism, this is the portrait which brought this question:

[left]I added a lot of extra space to put the lines in (older step):


[left](I put lines after having a sketch, that’s a mistake, but I managed to set them right.) Anyway this is no special environment nor exaggerated pose so maybe perspective is useless. The art teacher I wrote about above haven’t seen any lines, just a face from WIP and noticed that further eye is smaller and told me to use not perspective with it.
In fact I would prefer both eyes the same size and less slanted mouth line. I’m in doubt.



I did a little paintover for you - I hope you don’t mind!

Sometimes it can be helpful to mirror your image to see any anatomical errors. I think in this instance, you had a little too much of the farside of his face showing, particularly when the nose was in such a sharp profile.
I think you might find other drawing methods helpful when attempting this type of portrait. I go with the old stand by of drawing an oval and then putting a line where the eyes, mouth, and bottom of the nose is supposed to go. If you can track down any of the Andrew Loomis articles/books…they are extremely helpful with this.

Anyways…I hope this was some help! :slight_smile:


Thanks, paintover is OK, but not in topic :wink: I don’t want advice here on a specific portrait, but to know what art theories / schools say of use of perspective in portrait and what other artists use, my drawing was just an example of what I am taking about. I’m familiar with Loomis, I believe my tutor from the other forums based on his books while explaining me the method with perspective :slight_smile:


Sorry, I guess I wasn’t sure what you were asking.

I’m not sure what any particular school of thought would say on this matter…however, in the several years of life drawing that I’ve taken, we’ve never plotted out perspective lines when drawing the figure. I have done that for architectural drawings and objects that are supposed to look mechanical. In figure drawing, we typically start out with a loose gesture, block in the big shapes/volumes, block in the shadows, and kind of work down to the details.
Personally, I don’t think the perspective technique is best for this particular subject matter. I would recommend studying the shapes and volumes that make-up a face, rather than plotting out perspective lines. If you spend more time studying anatomy and practicing life drawing, your portraits will look more natural than if you spend your time focusing on perspective.

This is just my 2 cents and just because I prefer a different method doesn’t mean you won’t find something else that will work better for you! Good luck :slight_smile:


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