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Secrets Of Foreshortening – Learn How To Foreshorten Like A Pro

To teach how to foreshorten is difficult.

Even the definitions of the word itself are somewhat vague.

“Foreshorten–to represent figures as they appear to the eye when seen obliquely”;

“to represent objects in accordance with the laws of perspective”;

“the art of diminishing the entire length of an object when viewed obliquely.”

Foreshortening is to draw what we don’t see.

Foreshortening is one branch of the study of the elementary laws of perspective.

Much of what we see in nature is foreshortened. With the exception of the lines at right angles with the line of vision, all dimensions appear foreshortened.

Unless you were looking through a hole in the ceiling, the table and practically every article in a room would appear foreshortened.

Even the pictures on the wall, if above the level of the eye, are seen foreshortened. This will not be the case if they are tilted in such a way that their surfaces are at right angles to the line of vision.

If you can draw a cylinder lying on its side, in perspective, then you can draw anything in perspective.

The same rules apply.

Once you have draw a plain cylinder on its side, could you draw a lemon also? Sure you could. What about a carrot? The same principle again.

But what about more complicated things? How do you draw the wheels of a car in perspective?

By the same rules you used to draw the two planes of the cylinder lying on its side.

After mastering basics like these, how might you foreshorten something complicated, like a leaf?

The best way to foreshorten a leaf is to get one, place it in the desired position and draw it from life. This experience, after practicing, will enable you to draw a leaf, in perspective, from memory later on.

The best way to learn how to foreshorten parts of the human figure is by copying.

For example, the head bowed forward or back can be considered as a cirlce drawn in perspective. Even the human arms resembles a geometric shape. The same rules apply.

The human hand can be considered a collection of circles, ovals and cylinders. They are foreshortened in the same way as the single geometrical object by itself.

Take your left hand as a model and draw foreshortened views of it for practice.

Make free-hand drawings of cylinders in various positions, especially one that will show the visible end of a cylinder appearing nearly as a straight line.

Draw a box from a model. Place it directly in front of the eye, but above or below it. Measure the back edge of the top and compare it with the front edge in your drawing. Note that the back edge will be much shorter. Note that the two side lines will converge to meet the shorter lines. Place the box to one side, so that one side will be seen. Note the apparent shortness of the further (vertical) edge of the side.

These same rules will apply to anything drawn in perspective. Practice basic geometric shapes in this way and you’ll soon be able to foreshorten anything.

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