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https://www.haydnsymons.com/blog/what-is-the-horizon-line/ What is the horizon line in perspective and art? English If you’re wondering what is the horizon line in perspective, then look no further than this article. A lot of artists, especially beginners, struggle with perspective. If you also feel the same, then you are not alone! Perspective is mathematical,... https://www.haydnsymons.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/what-is-the-horizon-line.png 2023-12-11

What is the horizon line in perspective and art?

If you’re wondering what is the horizon line in perspective, then look no further than this article.

A lot of artists, especially beginners, struggle with perspective.

If you also feel the same, then you are not alone!

Perspective is mathematical, straight, and to the point (pun intended). However, most artists desire creativity, being free-flowing and experimental in approach.

You probably, as an artist, want to be the latter of the two. This is perfectly reasonable. We want to be creative, producing your best work possible.

For me, it’s creating fantastic illustrations, improving my painting skill, and thinking of fresh and new ideas.

However, from my experience, not learning perspective hindered my work, without me knowing. Similar to most artists, I look back at my earlier work and can see faults.

One being my incorrect use of perspective.

Of course, we all live and learn. However holding back on learning perspective negatively impacted my work.

From my experience, learning perspective will improve your work. I recommend it that much, as it can help your art in so many different ways. Not only improving your drawing skill, but giving you a framework to keep your creativity intact.

Think of perspective as that underlining structure of your art. You can base your art on this foundation, and you can keep your free-flowing approach.

Sounds like a winning formula to me!

What you will learn within this post

Within this blog post you will discover what the horizon line is and how you can create one yourself. I will touch on it’s benefits, with examples throughout, including tips and tricks along the way. Regardless if you create landscape artworks, portrait illustrations, to imagined characters, perspective can enhance your art.

Let’s firstly look at what the horizon line is.

What is the horizon line?

The horizon line, or eye line, is a horizontal line depicting the viewers eye line. You can see the horizon line when viewing out to a calm sea, which is the purest sense of a horizon line. As the horizon line is at eye level, this line depicts where the viewer is looking from.

Artists use the horizon line to place vanishing points on this line. This is most commonly drawn faintly with pencil, or if working digitally, an additional transparent layer. Artists use this as a structure for their work.

Used for landscape creations but also for interior art too. A horizon line can be high on the picture plane, or low on the picture plane. A picture plane is essentially your art board.

Or for a more complex explanation…

“When an artist creates an impression of space within a painting the picture plane is the transparent division between this fictive internal space and the real space outside, in which the viewer is placed.”

The National Gallery
Picture plane in perspective

Why use the horizon line?

  • Allows you to map correct perspective. You then place vanishing points along this horizon line, and build your scene.
  • Forms a foundation. A horizon line lets the viewer know where they are in relation to the scene. It essentially grounds your work and the viewer.
  • Gives perspective confidence. You can notice when proportions are off to correct them, offering more realistic scenes.
  • Positively impacts your art. Whether you’re drawing a portrait, interior scene, to drawing the figure, it helps improve your art in numerous ways.
  • Helps you understand objects in relation to the horizon line. Is an object above or below the horizon line?

How to draw the horizon line

The horizon line is a horizontal line across your picture plane. It’s as simple as that.

One point, two point, and three point perspective bases itself on the horizon line. If you’re not familiar with point perspective, check out this ultimate point perspective guide to help you.

Experimenting with the placement of your horizon line can lead to more exciting imagery. The horizon line can be high up on the picture plane, if you’re standing on a high-rise building for example. Or if you’re on the ground, the horizon line will be low on the picture plane.

This impacts the camera angle. The camera angle and horizon line work together hand in hand. When one is up, the other is the opposite.

Horizon Line
Picture Plane and Camera Angle
  • When the horizon line is high, the camera angle is down (think about viewing a scene from a skyscraper, you will be looking down at the objects below).
  • If the horizon line is low, the camera angle is high (for example, if you’re a tiny ant on the grass, this creature will look up at the terrifying humans above).

This is important as it affects your the perspective of your drawing. When you start any drawing or painting, you need to firstly map out your horizon line.

Knowing where the horizon line is when you can see it

Identifying the horizon line becomes significantly more manageable when it’s visually apparent in your surroundings. Consider sketching a seascape; in most cases, the horizon line naturally presents itself before you.

However when drawing from life, pinpointing the horizon line can be more challenging, but fear not, there are some clever techniques at your disposal.

When drawing from a still life, an indoor setting, or any scene where the horizon line isn’t immediately visible, your goal is to observe where the objects within the scene naturally converge.

This is how you can precisely determine the position of the horizon line and leverage it to enhance your artwork. For instance, take a look at the image below.

How can we identify the horizon line when it’s not explicitly depicted?

By drawing converging perspective lines from the objects, you can discern where the horizontal line naturally aligns within the composition. In this particular example, you’ll notice that the horizontal line appears quite high within the image.

The same technique has been applied to the other examples provided below:

  • Observe where the elements in your scene converge.
  • Identify the horizontal line within your scene.

Once you’ve successfully determined this, you can confidently draw your horizon line, integrating it harmoniously into your artwork.

Horizon Line Example
Horizon Line Example
Horizon Line Example

Summary of points

I hope you have enjoyed this article to help you learn what is the horizon line in perspective. As we covered a lot of ground, let’s sum up what you’ve learnt in today’s article.

  • The horizon eye is the eye level of the viewer – can be placed high or low on the picture plane.
  • The purest sense of a horizon line is viewing out to a calm sea.
  • Horizon lines and perspective grids offers structure and sound mythology.
  • Using the horizon line allows you to map of your perspective, gives you a foundation, and increases your perspective confidence.
  • To draw a horizon line, draw your picture plane, and then a horizontal line through it. You can then place vanishing points along this line.
  • Draw this line faintly if working traditionally. Or additionally, transparent layer if working digitally.
  • If you can’t make out the horizon line, draw converging lines from the objects in your scene and see where the natural horizontal line is within the scene.

I’ve been recently studying perspective in my many sketchbooks, and it’s certainly helped improve my own work, my drawing confidence and so much more. I hope you can see the number of benefits by learning perspective. I’m confident you won’t look back to your old ways after studying this blog post!

If you enjoyed this article

Take a look at my other blog post helping you create an outstanding illustrator portfolio. Here I share my expert tips to help you win more customers, ensure you’re putting your best foot forward, with examples throughout.

Or if you want to improve your paintings, in particular gouache paintings, uncover my seven tips and tricks to improve your gouache paintings.

Thanks for reading and visiting my blog today. You can follow what I’m up to on my Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram pages, I’ll really appreciate it if you do, and don’t be afraid to say hi to me! Have a great day!

What is the horizon line in perspective and art?

Haydn Symons

Freelance Illustrator Haydn Symons - Freelance Illustrator For Hire
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