Picture Plane : perspective term

16 January, 2009

The “picture plane” is simply the surface area of the picture. The edges of the picture are the limits, or edges, of the picture plane. In the introduction we discussed how Alberti saw the “picture plane” as a window through which the artist sees the visible three-dimensional world. That window is the surface of our drawing. The surface of the paper is a two-dimensional plane. When a drawing of three-dimensional object is made on this two dimensional surface, it becomes the picture plane. The illusions of depth and form have been drawn on a flat surface. We must always view the subject as if through a transparent vertical plane and transfer what is seen to the flatness of the picture plane surface without ever forgetting depth and form. In the illustration, the canvas appears to be a window through which the artist is viewing the subject. This is a simple, but good, example of the artist using the picture plane to transfer the illusion of depth to the flat surface of the drawing.

An easy way to experience the value of picture plane is to use a real window at home. Take a grease pencil and draw a border approximately 9” * 12” on the window. The area within the outline is the picture plane. The outline is the border. Now, stand in one spot and, without moving your position, draw the outlines of what you see in the picture plane area on the window. You have just drawn three-dimensional depth and form on a flat surface. You have created exactly what you would on your paper or canvas by using the imaginary picture plane. Try a few different windows and views, then you will really understand the term “picture plane”.

Picture Plane is similar to the Field of Vision. However, the images we are looking at have been cropped or adjusted so that only a small portion can be seen. Look through the viewfinder of any still camera to find that only a portion of the world can be seen at any one time. By moving closer or farther away, more or less of the view can be seen through the viewfinder.

Field of Vision: Similar to the Picture Plane, the field of vision is all that can be seen from the viewer’s eyes while standing at a stationary point. Convergence: Is the point in which all lines meet at one point in space. It is like the row of subway support beams or a subway track that extends far off into the distance. All the lines appear to meet together at the one distance vanishing point.


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