Classroom Activity: Using Leonardo's Window

Main Idea: Students use a glass window as a canvas. Looking through one eye they can trace the outlines of objects seen through the window to create a drawing with natural and correct perspective.

Learning Objectives:
Time Needed: 30 minutes

Teacher Notes:
  1. Place the chair close to the window but facing backwards.
  2. Sit with your legs around the chair back.
  3. Tape the acetate to the window centered at eye level.
  4. Cover one eye with a patch or bandana.
  5. Rest your chin on the middle of the chair back and try hard to keep your head absolutely still.

  6. Carefully trace the outlines of the objects you see through the window. You may want to use a straight edge when tracing straight lines.
  7. If you stop to rest, be careful not to move the chair and be sure to put your head back in exactly the same place.

  8. When you have finished your tracing, remove it from the window and tape it to white paper.
Going Further:
Exploring Your Own Perspective:
    Before answering these questions students will need to look at the Exploring Linear Perspective web page.
  1. Where is the horizon line in your picture? Looking back at the original view may help you locate it.
  2. Can you find any lines or pieces of lines coming closer together as they approach the horizon line? These are orthogonal lines. Can you find the vanishing point? If you aren't sure where it is, try using a straight edge to extend any receding straight lines you find until they meet at the horizon line.

Alison Cole's book Eyewitness Art: Perspective  is a fascinating resource on this topic for students who want to learn more.

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