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How to paint straight lines

How to paint straight lines

Question from Jaganath, Drawing Academy student

I came across some paintings of buildings. The lines of buildings are very straight.

Can you explain how the Old Master painted such straight lines?

I tried using wooden rulers but did not achieve that much precision.

Regards,
Jaganath

Answer from Vladimir London & Natalie Richy
Drawing Academy Tutors

Hi Jaganath,

Many thanks for your message.

When you look at photos of paintings, you need to keep in mind the real size of the artwork.

We have seen many original paintings by Canaletto, they are quite big. Lines painted on big scale will look very precise when scaled down to a small photograph.

How to paint straight lines

How to paint straight lines

Some artists use threads instead of rulers.

For example, in some Vermeer paintings there are small holes in perspective vanishing points.

This holes are left by pins that were used to tie a thread to plot linear perspective.

How to paint straight lines

Very straight lines are not ideal for a painting. Great masters knew about it.

Think of Parthenon, for example. All of the elements of this magnificent temple on the Athenian Acropolis were designed with curved edges.

How to paint straight lines

As an artist (not an engineer) you have a license to be more artistic, and not so mechanical. Precision is good for technical drawings, however; artistic artwork is about creating an illusion that portrays the “spirit” and “soul” of life.

We hope this helps.

Natalie-Richy-avatarKind regards,
Natalie Richy and Vladimir London
Drawing Academy tutors

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Esraa says:

    In Vermeer painting , there is a box in the floor and it doesn’t match with the vanishing point lines … could it be more than one vanishing point in the same painting?

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