Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Strange Animals

8/25/20 Green Lake neighborhood

Whenever sketchers get together (ahhh, remember those days?) and talk about things they want to learn or improve, some inevitably mention perspective as one of their biggest challenges. Just as inevitably, architecture is mentioned as the target subject area for resolving those perspective issues, yet cars rarely come up. Although architectural perspective is nothing to sneeze at, surely perspective related to drawing cars is just as difficult, if not more so. At least with a house, you could pull out a straightedge to help with lines leading toward the vanishing point, or you could use a protractor to measure a building’s angles, if getting those exactly right is important to you. But how does that work with cars?

Years ago, probably during my first year of sketching, I brought this question up with an architect and experienced urban sketcher, and her advice was to imagine putting the car into a shoebox. Use the edges of the imagined box to draw the perspective lines to the vanishing point, and voila! The car would be drawn in perfect perspective! My eyes glazed over so thickly, she probably thought I had dropped into a coma. I had no idea what she was talking about.

Now I do, and I’ve been drawing cars ever since, yet her advice has never helped. The car may be forced into a shoebox, but its edges will never be straight, nor are they curvy like a human, nor organic like a tree. It’s the strangest animal in the urban sketching universe.

(Speaking of animals, while I sketched this, numerous squirrels were very busily running back and forth across this dead-end street and into the nearby trees, many of which are showing a tinge of yellowing. Fall is coming.)


  1. Picturing the cars as shoeboxes is a great idea for getting the perspective down. Then you just have to worry about all the curved lines. lol

    1. Has the shoebox ever worked for you? Not for me! ;-)


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