In attempting to make a "bird's eye" view of buildings, where an elevation cannot be obtained, it will be found somewhat difficult. We can only mark down on the sketch-book what can be seen from the position we occupy on the level with the objects before us, and imagine the remainder. At the same time three things should be kept in view, the perspective, the perpendicular lines, and proper elevation, in order to give to our picture the appearance it would have if others viewed it from the supposed point of observation as the sketcher.
The intention of the writer has been to touch upon all the points and rules in drawing, and dwell upon each separately, and sufficient for a person of ordinary ability, and a good many grains of continuity, to make a sketch artist.
"It matters not what a man's vocation may be, if he has the taste to discern, and mind to esteem, the good and beautiful in nature and art, an expression of refinement will be manifest in all that he undertakes."
In this work I did not expect more than to take the first step toward teaching to sketch from nature. An easy, rapid, and decided manner of sketching is to be acquired only by practice. It is an acquisition essential to excellence in all the other artistic qualities, to which it serves as a basis. Having given you the necessary instruction, I will now assist you in Selecting a Position. Choose a point that will command a good view of the scene, and prevent closer and more immediate objects from concealing any portion of the remote distance; and though the height of the horizontal line in this case may sometimes be more than half the height of the paper, according to the elevation attained by the artist to command the view. In this case the horizontal line is at about one-half the height of the paper. It frequently occurs in making a sketch, that the artist cannot place himself at the desired point for the best view. In such case we will imagine a point above the highest object in the foreground of the proposed sketch. That point may be on the land, or on the water. The artist, with a knowledge of perspective and elevation in view, may make a memorandum of the whole; but should he attempt to draw it from the point he is compelled to see it, no one would recognize it as a truthful representation. We regulate the whole by our knowledge of perspective, as accurately as if we stood upon the very spot from which we desired to be understood that the view was taken.
In Making a Bird's Eye View of a village or city, the first thing to be done is to get a plat, or outline, of the streets and blocks, and mark them on the sketch-book in squares, (or rather diamond shape), each line and cross line representing a street. Commence sketching in the buildings from the point chosen, which should be the one nearest the business center, and where the best houses stand, or from a point where you can secure the best material for a foreground, such as a stream of water and bridge, or a forest, etc. Transfer each block to paper, showing the fronts of one side and the rear of the buildings of the other side, and so on through the entire row of blocks, when you return to the place of starting, and go down the second row, always working toward the vanishing point.
After you have gone over the entire city, and taken every building, tree, and other objects of interest, and completed the sketch, you are ready for working it up. Lay out the blocks and streets on drawing paper, with pencil, in perspective, ruling from the vanishing point, the center of the picture, toward the point of view, which enlarges the objects of the foreground, and diminishes those in the distance.
In drawing in the buildings, begin with the first house in the foreground, drawing the roof lines, which should be parallel with the lines of the street; next the gables, after which the corner lines, which should be perpendicular to the drawing paper.
The drawing should be made first with pencil, and then in ink, with fine pointed steel pen; for shading, use small camel hair brush and India ink.
Lights and Shades. In a sketch it is found that mere outline is insufficient to the representation of an object in relief; it cannot give substance, nor define relative distances so as to maintain the objects in their proper places. The matter of fact representation of the breadth of a meridian light, and the same passage of landscape viewed under the shades of evening, affects the feeling very differently. In the latter, there is a charm which operates even upon minds least susceptible of impressions from the beauties of nature. The general principle acted upon by artists, is to dispose the lights and shades in the manner best suited to the treatment they propose for their work.
There are two extremes of light and shade, and between those lie all those half tints and reflected lights, and exquisite gradations of shade, which must be so carefully placed in the drawing as to clearly indicate the graceful curve of each individual petal, without in any way destroying the roundness and breadth of a flower. The gradations of shade are sometimes perplexing to the learner; but in this respect the eye is a very safe guide. It requires no cultivated taste - not even any great amount of critical observation - to see when an object which should look perfectly round, appears flattened on the one side, or swell too much on the other. The theory of foreground and middle distances and background, has much to do with the principles of light and shade. It is not the line of perspective alone which makes one portion of a picture retreat, and another come forward.
In the drawing of a round object, apple or ball, the shades fall on the concave part, and incline toward the side opposite to light. All shades of objects in the same picture must fall the same way, or farthest from the light. That part lying nearest to the light must receive the least Shade. This rule will be noticed in the face, folds of the drapery, etc. Landscapes show the heaviest shades nearest us. the greater the distance the lighter grows the picture. In clouds, the shades are the lightest that are nearest the horizon, it being the greatest distance from us, and those nearest the center of the picture the strongest,