Thursday, January 9, 2014

How to Find Your Horizon, or Eye-Level

Horizon (finding your eye-level)

Try this:
1) sit up straight
2) with your head level, look out at what's in front of you.
3) pretend you are shooting laser beams from your eyeballs; make sure those laser beams are shooting parallel to the ground.
4) wherever your eyeball laser beams hit, that is your eye level.

"Eye-level" is the exact same thing as "horizon."

Try this next time you're at the beach:
1) stand facing the ocean
2) look where the water meets the sky
3) we all know that as the horizon, but now think of it as eye-level
4) slowly lower yourself down to the sand, but keep your sights on that horizon
5) notice how the horizon moves down with you
6) lay down on the sand
6) where's your horizon?

It's still right there, in front of your eyes.
The horizon moves with the level of your eyes. An immovable horizon would require you to look up at the horizon, as you lowered your body to the sand.

No beach nearby? How about the desert? Here's the view of my drive home from Las Vegas last weekend:

And there's the horizon, straight out in front of my laser-beam eyeballs. And look - the highway comes to a point on my horizon-eye-level. Notice how incredibly WIDE the highway looks at the bottom of the photo, and how incredibly QUICKLY it narrows to a point as it goes back in space. This is a classic example of one-point perspective

Here's another example:

All the parallel lines are going back to the same ONE POINT on the horizon (hence the one-point perspective.) Even the lines of the truck. Check it out! Place a ruler over your screen and see where all those lines go: the truck, the road, even the brush at the edge of the road's shoulder.  

Everything on this long ride through the desert is zooming towards the same itty-bitty spot on my horizon. Why "my" horizon? Because it's my eye-level. Your eye level (you being taller or shorter) is different than mine. 

My horizon is mine. Your horizon is yours. (Think about that, and I dare you not to get all philosophical.) 

And one more amazing thing about the desert views. . . atmospheric perspective! 

The atmosphere creates the feeling of space.

More in a later post, about why horizon/eye-level is important, and about using both types of perspective to your advantage in any drawing (not just landscapes). For now, practice shooting laser beams from your eyeballs. 

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