How to Get Better at Drawing: Foreshortening & Perspective

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

If there is one thing I wish I knew about drawing before I got started it would be perspective and foreshortening.

Perspective describes "the art of representing three dimensional objects on two dimension surface so as to give the correct impression of their height, width, depth and position in relation to each other." Google, 2019

Similarly, foreshortening refers to "the art of representing something so as to appear closer than it is or as having less depth or distance, as an effect of perspective or angle of vision." Google, 2019

Understanding these elements is one of the most important things you can do to get better at drawing instantly,

yeah instantly I'm not kidding!

You see, most beginner artists and even some advanced ones, seem to underestimate how vital and impactful these elements are.

In real life, everything we perceive in a way or another is always affected by perspective, and often if not always, exhibits an instance of foreshortening in one of its elements. It is absolutely essential to account for this when you are drawing!

Contemplate the following example for a moment:

In this example, the face was depicted from an exaggerated upward angel, making the nose the most dominant component of the drawing. From a normal angel, the nose would not such have a huge proportion and the eyes would be the most dominant feature.

When I started out drawing, I could not catch that difference and shifts in proportions in the various parts of my subjects which is why they often looked flat and unrealistic. Paying attention to how perspective affects proportion will bring instantaneous improvements to your art.

Before starting out a new work, allow some time to understand your subject, to determine the perspective from which your want to draw it, and to what extent this is going to affect your drawing.

Try to explore perspective and foreshortening and experiment with them often. Anytime you see a drawing, see if you can figure out which parts were drawn shorter or bigger than they actually are. See if you can spot examples of foreshortening.

I will leave you with a very useful exercise to improve your skills in drawing in perspective and implementing foreshortening.

The ultimate exercise to improve at foreshortening is to draw fingers from various angles. You can easily use your own hand as a reference by just looking at it or by using a mirror - this is what animators do by the way!

Try out and let me know how it goes!

See ya!

"You already have what you want, just wake up to it"