The oldest pictures made by humans are primitive stick figures with no attempt to represent three dimensions.
But over time, cave paintings became more realistic, suggesting different materials, and modeling forms with shading.
Over the centuries artists have tried to capture three dimensional realities on a flat surface (Carl Larsson’s Autumn)
The gold standard of art was to fool the viewer into thinking that what he was looking at was 3D reality; a standard achieved by Rembrandt Peale in this self portrait.
Seeing reality emerging from a plain sheet of paper is one aspect of artistic magic. It is what makes figure drawing so gratifying for me.
…But I really want to talk about Architecture and Architectural drawing.
A building plan has no need to aspire to illusion. It is a diagram which anyone can understand; like a map or the squares on a child’s game board.
But, the actual building is often much more complicated. At the very least, architects try to distinguish materials and depth of field. A clearly rendered elevation goes a long way to explaining a building. This and the preceding plan are of the Third Church of Christ Scientist in New York City.
In the end, an accurate perspective layout is the best foundation for creating the illusion of reality. This is for the obvious reason that we live and see in three dimensional reality. The airplane is a Caproni biplane from 1911.
Perspective, along with rendered materials and cast shadows, presents the project in a form that the architect, client and public can easily understand. Done right, it resembles a simple photograph, as does this rendering of Viollet-le-Duc’s 1861 proposal for the Paris Opera.
Done with subtlety , it can be a magic trick where the three dimensional object is there, but is just out of reach. This is an effect that John Wenrich achieved regularly.