Creating The Illusion of Depth

Posted by Anita on 14 May 2019 | 0 Comments


Creating the illusion of depth by various uses of perspective is an interesting challenge when quilting. Looking at various artworks can help us learn about how to do that and how people at various times in history used perspective.

Perspective in early artworks was usually created by overlapping images, people standing one in front of another, but often the size of the people in the images was based on importance rather than placement in the image. So someone further away might be larger than a person in the foreground. Sometimes various forms of perspective were used in disconnected ways. This tends to look strange to us these days, however, the variations played a part in letting people know what was most important in an image.

Here's a good example... "Les Tres Riche Hours du Duc de Berry" (click for larger image)

Les Tres Riche Hours du Duc de Berry, a prayer book, has many interesting illustrations of mixed forms of perspective. License of use info...

Things that I notice about this is the combination of uses of perspective. Looking at the table, the lines at the side are angled to show distance. Also, the soldiers in the distance become increasingly smaller. The Duc de Berry though he sits behind the table is larger than all the other figures as he is the most important person.

So a mixture of forms of perspective create some illusion of perspective, but not quite how we look at perspective today. However, all of these examples can teach us how we might use various kinds of illusion in creating perspective in our quilts.

Overlapping images, the proper scale of pieces in relationship to each other, diminishing sizes of elements all add to the sense of distance. This might mean more dense quilting in the background with finer threads, and larger thread and stitches in foreground quilting is an additional aspect to consider when working on perspective in a quilt.

Another image to illustrate some of the things mentioned above is "Hours of Catherine of Cleves", a prayer book with images. You can see this by following this line

I think this image is particularly interesting because of the variety of forms of perspective illustration. The figure in the foreground is probably the patron Catherine who commissioned the book. She is about 1/2 to 2/3rds the size of the Virgin Mary. So here we have an example of importance dictating the size of the people. Then looking at the surrounding for the Virgin Mary, the windows and floor are examples of one point perspective.

Creating perspective on a flat surface (like a quilt) is a challenge for most people. There are various ways to show perspective using color, value, size, vanishing lines and other aspects and I will show you exactly how to do that in my workshop "Perspective in Quilting". I hope you will join me! .... Anita.

About Anita EatonAnita has been doing various forms of needlework since she was a child, but her greatest interest has always been quilting. She learned from her grandmothers, and from studying many books about quilting history, design, and techniques. Read more...


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