How to use perspective in a sentence

Central perspective

The Central perspective, also front perspective, forms a possibility in art to create spatial depth on a two-dimensional surface, which appears to the viewer as if the room were three-dimensional. With the help of the central perspective, the impression is created that the objects represented in a picture behave as they would in reality under visual conditions. All the lines that go into the depths of the room run towards a vanishing point that lies on the horizon line. In this context, one speaks of a shortening, since the lines that go into the depth are shown shorter. The central perspective was developed in the Renaissance, which made the depicted appear more realistic.

Effect and examples

The central perspective ultimately ensures that that the objects that are in the background of an image get smaller and smaller, whereas the things that are in the foreground appear larger. This effect is further intensified when the painter shows the same or similar objects and shortens them in the distance, which was often realized through columns, streets or rows of houses. In the following picture this effect is created by a simple geometric figure.

The example picture above illustrates the principle. There's a horizon line that parallel to all horizontal lines is which are in the picture. All vertical lines are also parallel to each other. The so-called vanishing point lies on this same horizon line. All lines of the picture that run into the depths run towards this vanishing point. This creates the effect of three-dimensionality, which is why the depicted object looks as if it protrudes into space. The easiest way to achieve this effect is with geometric and simple figures.

It is important here that the perspective changes when the position of the horizon line moves. In the above example, the horizon line is set above the object, which gives the impression that one is looking at the body from above (bird's eye view). If the horizon line is in the middle of the object, it seems that the viewer would be standing exactly in front of the object, if it is set below the respective object, the perspective moves downwards (frog's perspective). An example:

In the example above the horizon line has moved under the body, which is why the perspective has changed. It now seems as if the observer sees the object from below and nothing more - as in the example above - from above. In addition, not only the position of the horizon line can change, but also the position of the vanishing point on the horizon line itself. This creates the effect that the object is no longer centered, but appears slightly offset. An example:

In the example above the horizon line is in the middle and all lines that go into the depths run towards a vanishing point, which this time is not in the middle, but on the right. This creates the impression for the viewer that he is looking at the respective object from the front as well as from the side. What is special about all examples is that the Front surface of the respective object always undistorted is - the horizontal lines of the body are therefore parallel to the horizon - whereas all lines that go into the depths come down to a central vanishing point. The fact that there is a central vanishing point is also the reason why this type of representation is called central perspective.

Central perspective in painting

The knowledge of the central perspective comes from the Renaissance. Previously, painting was mostly done on two levels: a background and a foreground. Objects that were in the foreground covered all objects that were laid out on the background layer. However, this did not give the impression of three-dimensionality. During the Renaissance, the central perspective first gave the impression that the objects in a picture behaved as they would in reality under visual conditions.

Often there are geometric shapes in the paintings of the Renaissance, which get smaller in the distance, as well as recurring and similar objects, which additionally intensify the effect of depth perception. Such like objects were - when the distance increased - evenly shortened and made the illusion of depth flawless. An example from Raphael, a Renaissance painter:

Picture:School of Athens of the painter Raffael (1510/1511)


The example picture above shows a fresco (wall painting) by the Italian painter Raffael. The central perspective can be illustrated using the image, as numerous clear lines run out to the central vanishing point. Here you can also see how shortening objects of the same type increases the effect if the columns standing one behind the other are connected with lines of flight.

The discovery and use of the central perspective can be proven for the first time in Italy. However, similar representations can also be found very quickly with German painters. For example, in the work of Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), a German painter, graphic artist, mathematician and art theorist, there are many who specifically create depth with the help of the central perspective. An example:

Picture:Saint Jerome in the case (1514) by Albrecht Dürer


The above example is one of Dürer's three master engravings and bears the title Saint Jerome in the caseThis designation is due to the fact that Dürer almost perfected the copperplate with the three master engravings (see masterpiece). The central perspective can also be perfectly traced in this picture: the vanishing point is in the middle of the right half and lines that go into space intersect this point, with horizontal lines running parallel to the horizon.

Brief overview: The most important things at a glance
  • In art, the representation of space on a two-dimensional surface is referred to as central perspective, also front perspective, which, however, appears to the viewer as if he were three-dimensional. This creates the impression that the objects in an image behave as they would under real visual conditions
  • To implement this effect, a horizontal horizon line is drawn in the picture and a point is placed on it. This point is known as the vanishing point. All lines of the picture that go into the depths run towards this central point and are thus shortened. Vertical and horizontal lines are parallel to each other.
  • If the horizon line is placed above the object, the impression arises that the viewer is looking at what is represented from above (bird's eye view); if it is placed in the middle, it appears as if the viewer is standing in front of the object; if it is placed at the lowest end, the so-called frog perspective is created. If the horizon is even below what is depicted, this effect is intensified and the object appears to be floating.
  • By moving the vanishing point on the horizon line, the viewer's point of view can be varied. If the point is in the middle, what is depicted is shown frontally; if it is in one half of the picture, the viewer can also see the sides of the object.

  • Note: The central perspective bears its name because all the lines that go into the room come down to a central point. There is also the option of using two vanishing points. Then one speaks of a two vanishing point perspective.