Perspective and anatomy revisited

New ways of making use of perspective and anatomy

The purpose of this ‘Post’ is to provide the link (see below) to my introduction to “Drawing with Knowledge”, the second BOOK in the two book volume (See below for links with the published chapters of “Drawing with Feeling“, the first BOOK in the two book volume). The two main subjects dealt with are Linear Perspective and Anatomy.




Do the rules of perspective and anatomy help or hinder accuracy?

A key property of the world we live in is that we will never perceive any of its contents as the same on more than one occasion. The list of reasons why includes the influence on appearances of:

  • The almost infinite variety of species and object types
  • The invariable uniqueness of genetic differences between members of the same species
  • Ageing
  • Environmental conditions, including  variations in the direction and strength of primary and secondary light sources, degree of atmospheric filtering, etc.,
  • Occlusions by other objects
  • Viewing angles and viewing distances
  • Visual illusions.

However seeing something (even the same object) as the same on more than one occasion is what we have to do if we are to recognise it.  This means that:

  • Recognition and the content of our long term memories must depend on generalisations
  • There will always be a degree of uniqueness in the appearance of every object we try to draw or paint from observation.

From all this we can conclude that:

  • Achieving accuracy in drawing or painting from observation will always require finding out about aspects of appearance that cannot be stored in our memories.
  • Following the rules of linear perspective or anatomy can never achieve accuracy in drawing or painting from observation.

So what can they help us to do?

  • The rules of linear perspective and of anatomy can help us construct plausible images from the imagination (See examples below)
  • The rules of linear perspective and of anatomy can help us to know what to look for.

The second of these provides the main subject matter of this book.


Some studies using linear perspective and anatomy.

  • Linear Perspective

perspective and anatomy
Structural study of complex object
perspective and anatomy
Piero della Francesca : studies of a head
perspective and anatomy
Piero della Francesca : Use of linear perspective in his painting “The flaggelation of Christ”


  • Anatomy

perspective and anatomy
Visalius : anatomical study from his famous book
perspective and anatomy
Leonardo da Vince : study of arm musculature
perspective and anatomy
Michelangelo : Page of studies


A list of  chapters from “Drawing with Feeling”, book 1 of “Drawing on Both Sides of the Brain”


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Go to list of all other contents


3 thoughts on “Perspective and anatomy revisited”

  1. Francis, This is a wonderful brief summary of the pros and cons of the rules of perspective and anatomy when drawing or painting. Thank you! It is a huge lesson to learn how and when to use these rules and, importantly, how to go beyond them to learn about the unique characteristics of any particular subject matter. This is so useful and exciting to think about.

  2. A fine introduction to Book II, Francis. One element that I found interesting and a bit confusing was your comment about context, particularly with respect to the Morisot painting. You zoomed in on a detail to render it abstractly and later showed the entire image so that we can make further sense of it. Is the whole image the “context,” as you perceive it. Perhaps there is room for refinement here. In my studies, context is a rather big term. There is context of culture, for example, as well as context of situation. To which, if any of the above, do you refer?

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