Questions on Perspective



I’m studying perspective and I’ve some questions regarding it. I hope that this would be a good place to ask them.

What I’m trying to learn is to to make the viewer look overwhelmed by the scale of the elements in the image. Yeah, this sounds like a common motif in images but when I’m actually trying to work it out with what I’m learning, it gets very challenging.

I feel that in the end it’s about the details: The same room I’m standing in could be made to seem gigantic if all the walls are made of tiny, tiny bricks and perhaps have clouds form half way up the walls with a flock of tiny birds somewhere up there.

I know that there could possibily be infinite ways to depict such large scales but these are what that I could think of.

I’m attaching below some of my experiments on this:

I’ve found by test D that if I use a vanishing point for the vertical lines as well, I can get a feeling of being dwarfed.

I’m now thinking of drawing something with D and it having tiny details. Am I on the right track? Are there other clever ways to show this? Could you perhaps point me to some good artworks that use them?



I’d say you’re spot on.

Do you know that tiny person waving a stick in environment concepts by numerous unrelated artists? That’s for scale. The same apply to birds. You introduce a common place element to give the viewer a sense of scale—usually a human—, then you can add some repeated elements (vehicles, trees, etc) to instil a sense of depth.

Clouds also help to give some depth, and I’d add aerial perspective to the list. It not only adds depth but is wonderful for composition due its quick and graceful separation of planes.

You’re also right about the vanishing points: Picking a lower point of view increases the scale of the scene, and a third point on the top creates a dramatic “dwarfed” impression. Just be careful to not overdo this one or it might look a bit comic-like.

On the same vein, a third point on the bottom will also create a sense of scale, but instead of being overwhelming, it will create the extremely high POV illusion.

Look for environment concept artists works, they’ll have plenty of useful tips on this. I think Feng Zhu mentioned this stuff on his videos, thought I can’t point out which ones.


Thank you for the quick response!

The points you’ve included make a lot of sense. So to summarize: if the scene is made of things we are familiar with, then the reduced apparent size of them will be a good indicator distance and scale. And thanks for bringing up aerial perspective. I had missed that!

There is one thing that you said that I could not understand: I’d add aerial perspective to the list. It not only adds depth but is wonderful for composition due its quick and graceful separation of planes. What do you mean by this?


You’re welcome! English isn’t my native language, sometimes I write in a roundabout way, haha.

Most elements in a painting have more than one purpose. In aerial perspective’s case, they’re all pretty helpful.

  • It’s the easiest way to separate of planes. Simple perspective.

Work by Jean-Léon Gérôme.

  • It adds depth, which is all about volume, and makes things realistic. I make a distinction there because volume is a different beast. It doesn’t exist without perspective, but it’s more than that. You can treat a single object as a scene and use a gradual fog on it. You can’t create the same effect by aggressively splitting it into different planes without making it look disjointed.

Artwork by Xiaoyu Wang. The mount has different levels of fog on it. It’s 0% at his back, increasing as we move to the limbs. The artist exaggerated the effect, giving the creature a bigger sense of scale than the orc riding it. Take a look at the orc riding another beast in second plane. Their Mount:Orc size difference is similar to the first orc and his mount’s, but unlike them they share the same fog levels and don’t look nearly as big-and-small as the first two. Perspective + fog is wonderful!

  • Aerial perspective also greatly helps the composition, guiding the eye through it. It has a lot of room for artistic license.

That one is by Sergey Kolesov. Can you see how he gradually intensified the fog behind the vehicle and shifted the hue, highlighting the focal point of his piece?


You have a good eye for these! Your description has helped put words to that which I’ve only known intuitively so far. Thanks!


You should also learn some basic photography, because what type of lenses are used will greatly affect the sense of scale and depth of the scene, and we are conditioned by a very camera-centric visual culture due to growing up with movies, TV shows, social media photos and videos, and the virtual camera settings in video games.

Learn about how the different focal lengths create different field-of-view and how they alter your perception of the scene in front of you. Going from 35mm to 14mm for example creates a drastically different look, but both are considered wide-angle.

If you know 3D, spend some time in a virtual environment and try different virtual camera settings and move around in the environment and see how different focal lengths alters the feel of the environment.