First of all, it is wise when starting a perspective to decide where to stand in order to obtain the best view. Though this position varies with different buildings it is usually well to show much of the main faqade and if the plot be flat to take the eye level or horizon line about five feet above the ground, as the eye is actually approximately this distance from the plane on which the building rests. If, instead, it is to be on a hill so it would be natural to look up at it, that is the way it should be drawn, and in this case the horizon would be way below the house as it is always level with the spectator's eye. Contrarily if we are to look down on the building from above, as in a bird's eye view, the eye level or horizon will be towards the top of the picture. Now it is seldom that we do see houses from above, and even if we should, as from a mountain or airplane it would not generally be wise to show them that way, but there are cases where the building is very irregular in plan or where we have a complex group of buildings to picture and under these conditions there is sometimes no other means of expressing the entire subject adequately. Another point worth remembering is that it is best not to stand too close to a building when making the perspective, as this causes the receding lines to become so acute as to seem unpleasant. A little experience will teach the correct distances for various types of buildings. Again, if you are to make a perspective and the plot has already been purchased, obtain either photographs or sketches of the site to help you in drawing the surroundings. A plot plan or survey showing the contours of the land, location of rocks, trees, etc., is always of immense help, too, in getting a layout correct. If no plot has been selected, photographs showing houses of a similar nature to that which you are drawing may offer valuable suggestions, especially for the entourage. It should be remembered that a pleasing relation should exist between a building and its environment - the house should seem to belong to the spot. If, for instance, you are drawing a little English cottage of informal nature, do not arrange your landscape in too formal a manner. Have some curved walks, irregular hedges, a quaint garden, etc. A. Colonial house of dignified proportions demands, on the other hand, a more symmetrical treatment with formality extended throughout the scheme. A rustic camp in the forest should show a real forest character and not look like a suburban cottage, and if a house is to be in Florida do not use trees found only in the North, and likewise avoid hills and mountains if the location is in a level country. These are of course only matters of common sense and may seem too simple to mention, but they are, nevertheless, extremely important. There is something else, too, which helps a composition immensely and this is to have some line or group of lines such as a path or drive or shadows on the lawn or perhaps a succession of bushes, which will serve to lead the eye into the picture. In Figure 24, Chapter V (Free-Hand Perspective), Part II. it will be noticed that all four of the sketches have paths which cause the attention to be directed gradually to the center of interest. It helps a drawing, too, if there are little vistas to draw the eye out of the picture again. A glimpse of some distant lake or down a pathway to the garage or of a neighboring building seen through the trees will add value to the picture, though naturally care must be taken not to make these incidentals too prominent, otherwise they will take interest from the house itself. In this connection we refer the reader to Figures 30 and 31 in this chapter. The end of the distant house in 31 and the garage in 30 add to the effect. When a definite plot has been chosen such buildings as may be visible should of course be correctly represented if shown at all.
Figure 30. Two Schemes for a Small House; Typical Renderings of the Type Often Submitted to the Client for the Purpose of Showing How a Proposed Building Will Look When Completed.
These Were Drawn Directly from Blueprint Plans and Elevations.
Figure 31. A Quickly Made Sketch for a Proposed House, Done with a Broad Point.
Figure 32. A Quick Sketch Done Directly From a Building, Picturing the Main Characteristics in a Direct and Simple Way, the Detail Being Only Suggested.
Rendering by Chester B, Price, Partial of a Proposed Housing Development near Stamford, Conn.
McKim, Mead & White, Architects.
Leaving the subject of composition for the present, let us return to the consideration of practical points relating to the laying out of the drawing. Now after the station point at which the spectator is to stand has been decided upon and the eye level or horizon determined, the various vanishing points are correctly located and the work is under way. As most perspectives are drawn directly from the working drawings and as these are often at the scale of one quarter inch to the foot this same scale is frequently used for the perspective. There is no rule about this, however, but it is sometimes difficult to show enough detail if a smaller scale is chosen. The English house in Figure 31 was done at the scale of one eighth inch to the foot and is reproduced here at the exact size of the original, so this gives a fair idea of about what can be easily done at that scale. The two houses in Figure 30 were also made at one eighth inch but are reproduced at about one-half that size. Once the scale is decided, the work of the layout can be pushed right ahead and as soon as this is completed we are ready for the rendering. There are several customary methods of proceeding with this. Sometimes the layout is on common paper and then the rendering done on tracing paper placed over the other. One advantage of this system lies in the fact that there is no special need to keep the paper clean when drawing the layout - again there are no hard mechanical lines to show in the final result, and if the rendering is spoiled in the making for any reason it is easy to begin once more. When the drawing is completed the tracing paper can be smoothly mounted on heavy cardboard. Another method, and the more common one, is to make the layout right on the final paper, using a fairly hard pencil such as a 3H, and drawing not only the outline of the large portions, but also all the window mouldings, clapboard lines and other such details as well. When this is completed go over the whole with a soft eraser until the lines are just visible as a guide for the freehand work. This final rendering may vary in style somewhat, according to the subject to be drawn. An English cottage of hewn timbers and rough brick or stucco, roofed with thatch or uneven slate, can be done with a rather sketchy line, as this will satisfactorily express the irregular surfaces. If a formal house of cut stone is to be pictured, smoother tones and straighter lines are often better. This does not mean that it is impossible to nicely represent such a house by a very sketchy sort of line, but it is certainly wiser for the beginner to render a building of this character in a painstaking way. With these facts in mind you are ready to start work, considering carefully the direction of the light, casting the shadows with care. A knowledge of the subject of shades and shadows is of course of great help here, while photographs of similar buildings offer many suggestions. Then a preliminary sketch is often made on tracing paper and the values carefully worked out on that. If this is done it often seems best, when making the final drawing, to render from the top down, for it is possible by this means to keep the paper clean quite easily. In theory it is better to work from the center of interest out towards the edges, as we have stated in a previous chapter, or to put in the darkest tones first, all over the drawing, later adding the half tones. If no preliminary is made, one of these methods should be followed unless the student has had a great amount of experience. In any case there is no excuse for untidy work and if reasonable care is used to keep the drawing brushed off and the pencil wiped clean, with a paper always under the hand to protect the surface, there should be no difficulty from that source.
Sketch By Louis Kurtz For House At Kingsport. Tenn. Electus D. Litchfield & Rogers, Architects.
Rapid Pencil Sketch to Show to Client. New Porch for Residence of Col. J. W. Woods. Designed and Drawn by Francis S. Swales, Architect.
Finish the drawing to the best of your ability and if you are not satisfied with it, and you are not likely to be, try another of the same or a similar subject. It is only by such practice, and by learning to look for your own mistakes and to profit by them, that success will be gained, but have in mind always that it is well worth the effort.
The illustrations Figures 30 and 31, are given simply as typical of the sort of renderings which can be quite easily and quickly done. These drawings show little individuality or originality, in fact they are very similar to dozens of drawings which we see from time to time. In both instances they were drawn to accompany sketch plans before any definite site had been chosen. Figure 30 may have some additional interest to the student as it shows two different compositions for the same house, for Schemes "A" and "B" are both developments of the one plan. Figure 32 is a sketch done directly from nature and by comparing this with Figure 30 the difference between a sketch and a rendering of a similar building should be very evident, for the old antique shop is drawn very hastily and in a free manner, no use being made of instruments, and with no attempt to more than express the general character of the building.
The supplementary illustrations accompanying this chapter, and Figure 50 on page 170, offer additional suggestions for the treatment of small buildings. Study these and as many others as you can find.