Books on perspective are notoriously difficult to sell. On the one hand, artists tend to think they’ve got it sussed and, on the other, they tend to shy away from what they regard as a frighteningly technical subject. The fact of the matter is that you can’t really expect to get drawing right if you don’t understand both how perspective works and how to make it work for you; a bit like trying to learn a language while ignoring the grammar. Sooner or later, it’s going to get up and bite you.
One of the best books on the subject is Gwen White’s Perspective for Artists, Architects and Designers, which includes a lot of vanishing lines, but really shows you how to get mostly buildings upright and in line. It’s still a good book, despite having first appeared as long ago as 1968.
The time, surely, has come for a new standard work and I think we might finally have it. Although Gilles Ronin doesn’t neglect the technical approach and the diagram, he provides plenty of examples of freehand drawing that leaven the necessarily methodical way of coming at the subject. As you’d expect, there’s a fair amount about shapes and these naturally lead into buildings, but not before we’ve had a look at simple objects. Gilles is also nicely clear on isometric and atmospheric perspective as well as handy things like shadows, different viewpoints and landscapes, which will be of particular interest to the fine artist.
The simple fact of the matter is that every artist should have this book and it’s a sad fact that very few will. This is a pity, not just because it’s about a subject you really can’t ignore, but also because Gilles manages to make its study something you can actually enjoy. I think that’s a first.