Sunday, March 15, 2015

Perspective drawings by V. Pellegrin, 1873, and Ernest Norling, 1929

Fig. 1

Okay, I get it. Perspective is boring. Especially arcane drawings from some 19th century manual by the Professor of Topography at some Military School. True, the text (which you can read here) is as thick and dense as Dermot Malone who beat me up when I was a kid, but the drawings are amazing. Take the first one (Fig. 1), for example.

It shows how to draw a square in perspective (lmno), a column in perspective (m1, n1, q1, p1), and how to draw shadows cast in perspective (v2, u2, p2) ... all in one tiny little drawing. Note that the shadows also recede. Not only do they stretch back towards the horizon, but they have their own distance point at F1, which is a theoretical point that would be way under the ground somewhere. You know where to place the shadows by marking the intersection points between lines going back from the column towards the horizon, and lines cast by the sun (above and behind) that pass through the top corners of the column (p1, q1, u1, v1) and recede to F1. Simples.

Now you can delete this email and go about your day. See you in another couple of months with some more useless info. Bye!

I admit; some might be a tad complicated. But they still look cool.

Continuing from Figure 1, this shows an obelisk in perspective and how to construct appropriate shadows.

Maybe these next ones are a bit easier to follow. They're by Ernest Norling from Perspective Made Easy (1929). Maybe I should have posted these first, but they're not as cool-looking as Pellegrin's. And besides, nobody's made it this far into the post anyway.


  1. Finalement, c'est la seules discipline mathématique pour laquelle j'étais particulièrement doué. C'est la science des ânes me disait-on !....

  2. It took me a long time to admit this but there truly is order and beauty in math!

  3. My dad was trained as an architect and was able to cast shadows by cranking out the numbers, but his son is still learning!

  4. I'm so glad to read you again. It is always so interesting and fashinating... (I Hope it is written correctly, I'm italian)) ...;-) )

  5. It looks like the Pellegrin drawings are not just perspective demos, but in fact ortogonal projections ,rotating the flat forms onto receding planes.- Very interesting, thanks

  6. Great post Alan , I really like the humorous way you have to present these "boring" things. Perspective is fun and nice to look at , a beautiful tool for us decorative painter , but just a tool , not a Law :)...

  7. Great post Alan indeed! More photos than text ( Lucky I am)
    Boring you said? nooooo
    ça me ferait plaisir de te voir !