convergence lines

What Is Convergence In Art

Simple Definition Of Convergence In Art

A simple definition for convergence in art is where parallel lines move together closing at a point.  This point is often set at the eye level of a viewer.

The point of convergence will always be on what is called the horizon line.

This simple explanation applies for what is called linear perspective.  So what does this mean in application?

What Is The Application Of Convergence?

The goal behind the use of convergence is to create depth of field.  Whether or not an artist is working on canvas or paper is immaterial.

Two dimensional surfaces can be utilized to create the illusion of depth by the use of a formal element in art called the line.  How the line is used within the space of the art will dictate this illusion of depth.

In effect you gain a three dimensional appearance which allows you to create focus.  The focal point can be in the positive space, or within the negative space if the lines are used wisely.

Here the artist is able to create more space for the objects and subjects within the art by adjusting the ratios or scale in art. The sum of these parts becomes an effective tool for aspects such as artistic communication.

What Is Convergence Of Perspective?

Clinically convergence of perspective is where an image plane has a vanishing point where the lines converge.  The convergence gives the perspective of three dimensional space.

The proper clinical definition to this is very wordy and can sound complex.  Quite simply it is a fancy way of saying that how the artist draws the line will create the perspective within the image.

The key is to remain consistent in scale and ratio to this vanishing point.  Doing so aids in creating the realistic appearance of three dimensional space.

This is achieved by using one point, two points, or three points of perspective. In this way you achieve true representational art.

How Does An Artist Use Convergence In Art?

The simplest way to explain how an artist uses convergence in art is to look at a very common thing from nature.  We all know what a spider web looks like.

The center of the spider web would be your vanishing point.  If you imagine drawing a box around the spider web you could imagine your canvas.

Draw a horizontal line across the center of the canvas, through the center of the spider web.  This is your horizon line.

The cool thing about this vanishing point and horizon line is that you can move the center of the spider web to any point on the canvas.

If you wish your vanishing point to be off center, in the top left, or the bottom right of the canvas, then you can do so.  If you do this just imagine the “lines” of the spider web leading you to this refocused point.

The lines which take you to this vanishing point are called convergence lines.  The center or vanishing point will become the point in the distance which all objects lead to.

You can imagine this like standing in the middle of a street.  As you look down the street into the distance, the buildings, shops, street lights, and lamps will scale according to the vanishing point in the distance.

How Do Convergence Lines Help An Artist?

Convergence lines help an artist maintain perspective.  In other words it aids in keeping the image realistic to life.

While these lines are imaginary it allows for proper distance to be drawn in the creation of the illusion of three dimensional space.

As objects are drawn closer to the vanishing point they become smaller just as objects would appear smaller at a distance within real life.

How Orthogonal Lines Are Used In Convergence

Orthogonal lines are used to properly draw the geometry of an object within three dimensional space.  What does this mean?

We all know what a cube looks like.  Yet a very large cube, like a building, can take on different appearances depending upon the perspective of the viewer.

gradation in artwork

In the case of a cube, an orthogonal line is imagined from each corner of the cube being drawn to the vanishing point.  This aids in giving the artist the ability to measure realistic proportions.

In order to properly draw different shapes geometrically within the illusion of three dimensional space, these lines work with the convergence lines but separate from them.

As a general rule, they should move to the vanishing point along the same trajectory of its related convergence line.  If a corner of the geometrical shape does not follow the same trajectory then its proportion is likely incorrect for the given perspective.

Orthogonal lines become critical for more than geometric shapes. They are essential when working with the key subject matter of art and how it is represented.

Alternative Meanings To Convergence In Art For Abstract Art

Outside of realism in art we arrive at abstract concepts.  While the already noted rules of convergence in art can still apply, there is more room for alternative applications.

Convergence within abstract art can be a point where multiple objects meet, clash, or blend together.  The focus in this case is more the idea of what the artist wishes to represent rather than the realism of the objects.

Due to this you can have convergence of an idea within the art, or a convergence of objects.  Both may apply at the same time.

It is not a situation where anything goes.  The vanishing point is typically replaced with a focal point.  It is where the focal point rests that the ideas or objects meet in the composition.

In essence, the convergence lines act as a tool for the artist to create movement in art to draw the eyes to that focal point.  While the line can be used, so can gradation by color or other interesting methods.

If one uses geometrical shapes within the abstract composition the use of orthogonal lines can become imperative.  Nevertheless their use is more flexible.

Instead of always attempting to build proper proportions the orthogonal line can be misused to create intentional distortions.  This can increase the intensity of the perceived three dimensional space.

It is a good practice to use convergence in art even within abstract concepts.  Where they would no longer apply is when the composition reaches a pure non objective art in nature.

How To Study Convergence In Art

The best way to study and learn convergence in art is to look at nature.  It is a natural canvas where the artist can obtain perspective, depth, and imagine the convergence line reaching a vanishing point.

While it is not common, every artist should experiment with photography.  Photography allows an artist to experiment with these very concepts, capture the perspective, and then study at a later time.

This also will build a library for the artist to use as a reference in later art compositions.  Experienced artists can benefit from this practice as there are potentially limitless perspectives that can be achieved.

Understanding convergence requires more than imaginary reference lines on a canvas.  It is the very relationship of our eyes to our art in how we see the world around us.

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