Activity: One Point Perspective (Space)
Teacher note: ***Practice this at home first! When you are teaching it you need to make sure you get it and then share because it will make it much harder for them if you can’t remember how to do it!
This lesson will follow a discussion of the many aspects of creating distance that have already been covered in the curriculum: generally, proximity to the bottom of the paper makes things look closer to the viewer; consequently, objects get smaller as they get higher on the paper. There is also a type of colour perspective called atmospheric perspective. The colours generally get lighter and bluer as they ‘fade’ into the background.
Students should also experiment with Natural Perspective. You might want to do a natural perspective activity first and tell the kids to paint something using any perspective they want. Many artists ignore all the rules of perspective and draw or paint things in whichever way they see fit whereas architects and designers generally follow the rules of perspective to the letter. Students should have the opportunity to experiment with natural perspective before trying one-point perspective. After that you could talk about 1 point perspective as a convention used by urban planners and architects – it’s just a convention.
As many students can’t understand the rules of perspective until about 12 years old, it is best to introduce this at the end of grade 6. Before that, it is hard for children to grasp the concept of one point perspective from a developmental standpoint.
- Take a sheet of Xerox paper and place it vertically on the desk.
- Fold one corner down so the edge joins up with the side of the paper giving you a triangle plus an extra flap at the bottom.
- Cut off the extra flap. You can use the extra piece as a straight edge by folding it vertically twice.
- Open up the remaining square. Create a second diagonal fold by grasping the 2 folded corners and gently pressing to create the other diagonal fold. Open.
- The centre is the vanishing point. Put a dot there. This is where a grade 6’s eyes would meet the door.
- One at a time, fold each side into the vanishing point and re-open it.
Take students out into the hall. Look at a square hallway. Show them by folding the sides and top of the paper what we are trying to represent (the paper will look like a box). The flat side is the back wall – find the ceiling and the floor, plus the 2 walls (we also had lockers in our hallway).
Here is a picture of my paper after I unfolded it and before I started outlining things:
- Outline the back wall (square) with pencil (draw it flat – for everything else you will use perspective)
- Add details on the back wall like doors etc. These are drawn straight on without using the vanishing point.
- Use a straightedge to line up the corners of the wall with the vanishing point. Draw out to the corner of the back wall from the edge of the ceiling on both sides. Don’t draw across the back wall.
- Do this on the floor as well. Make sure all students understand where the floor, ceiling and sidewalls are. You can draw a dot on the corners of the wall to create the ceiling and floor.
- Add any other details like lockers on the sidewalls by placing a dot for the top of the locker near the outside edge of the paper (this is where you want the top of your locker to be). Use your straight edge to line up with the vanishing point and draw the top of the locker out from the vanishing point.
- Use the vanishing point to line up vents, locks etc.
- If you want a bottom on the locker, the same applies.
- Put a dot near the outside edge of the paper and line up with the vanishing point.
- Vertical lines for the lockers or other details will get closer together as they get closer to the back wall (start skinny and get wider as you get closer to the person).
- To add floor tiles again, put dots on the floor near the bottom. Use the vanishing point to line up. Any other details can be added in the same way using the vanishing point.
- If you want to draw a rug you can put 2 dots to show the back edge (this can be as wide as you want). Horizontal lines like to stay horizontal so draw a horizontal line between the two points at the back of the rug. Then match up the vanishing point to one of the dots and draw out to edge of paper.
- Do the same thing to create a light on the ceiling if you like.
When we did ours, we always drew lines out from the vanishing point to the edge of the paper. Additionally we started with a rug / carpet on the floor by drawing 2 points to determine how long we wanted the rug to be. Then we joined the two dots with a line parallel to the back wall. Then we lined up the vanishing point to draw the two sides of the rug down to the bottom of the floor.
Here are some pictures:
- Finish the unit with a free planned piece where the student decide to use or not use one point perspective and defend their choice using historical or contemporary art work as a back-up.
- Another inquiry or idea: use natural or 1 point perspective to show something about your dreams for the future – e.g. design the lab you are going to cure cancer in.