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For simple perspective drawings, you don't really need to get into having a station point (or vantage point, not vanishing point) at all. As I'm looking at more complex methods, a station point becomes necessary to map your plan to to perspective layout.

Are there guidelines for determining where to place the station point? Is it arbitrary? I found a tutorial that explains that it relates to how far the viewer is from the object, and that moving it vertically adjusts that apparent distance. Yet, it says to always place directly below a certain point, which I'm not sure is necessary.

I'm wondering how its vertical distance from the horizon line and/or picture plane, or its horizontal distance from the vanishing points, might affect the level of distortion of the object in perspective.

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One or two vanishing points are placed on the horizon. If you're drawing with 3 vanishing points, the third will be above or below the horizon.

one, two and three vanishing points

Just like the position of the horizon, the vanishing point(s) depend(s) on the perspective, and at what angle you are viewing the object you are drawing. In case of the one-point perspective, the upper and lower edge are parallel and horizontal, so any extra vanishing points would be at an infinite distance away.
In case of two-point perspective, vertical lines are parallel, so this is actually a simplified case of the three-point perspective.

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    It's also worth noting that the points don't have to be on the paper -- if you have a sufficiently large desk or drawing table and a suitably long straight edge, you can tape down the paper, then place pieces of tape near the edge of the table and mark your points on them. – Joe Jul 11 '16 at 0:35
  • I'm sorry about the delayed response, but I'm wondering about the station point, not vanishing points. I've since found some info on how it relates to where the viewer is located. – user24 Oct 20 '16 at 7:15
  • @WebHead - then you should post your answer and accept it so as to clear up the mystery why these answers are not acceptable. – rebusB Aug 22 '19 at 16:11
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    @rebusB That’s not really how SE works. Just because I know these answers aren’t answering the question, because they either don’t address station points or they don’t address how to accurately or specifically place them, as I asked, doesn’t mean I suddenly have a perfect answer. And just because an answer isn’t accepted, doesn’t mean it’s not good. – user24 Sep 7 '19 at 21:53
  • @WebHead - Really? SE only works if people with info post it, not just allude to it. If what you found answers the question it absolutely belongs here as an answer (no one says it has to be perfect), if it expands upon the info in the question it should be added to it. SE is not just about the OP getting their answer, its about everyone else who visits seeking information. – rebusB Sep 8 '19 at 19:27
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The station point is the distance at which you are looking at an object, (i.e. how far you are from it).

The horizon line is where your eyes are, (i.e. if are you looking the object from below, above or the front).

There are no guidelines to where to place these, you can look at an object from whatever angle or distance you wish. But changing your position in relation to an object (or a scene) will change the way it appears to you.

Here is an example of how an object/scene would look viewed from different heights (i.e. changing the horizon line), from higher (like stepping on a chair) to lower (like lying on the ground):

enter image description here

Here it is explained how different a scene will look viewed from different distances (i.e. changing the station point).

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  • That's the issue I'm having, really. If I want to say "I'm stationed 45 degrees and 100 ft from by object", how do I actually determine where that point would be. Is there some side elevation projection I need to do? – user24 Dec 31 '17 at 3:26
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Answer In the simple case you mention (objects laying on the line of vision) the vertical distance of the station point to the ground line of an object (laying on the ground) is the distance of the viewer to the object measured in units in the object's plane.

example. A simple illustration would be if we draw a vertical line from the horizon and place the station point at the end of this line, we could place an object on the ground as far away from us as we are tall by bisecting the line. We could place another object away from us 3 times our height by bisecting the distance from the ground line of the first object to the horizon.

Objects in other positions if we are only interested in the depth of the object we can easily project that line onto our line of vision or the ground line (for "floating" objects) using horizontal and vertical lines. For 2 point perspective our station point is essentially chosen once we choose the two vanishing points and a vision center line. If you draw a circle with a center at the midpoint of the vanishing points and intersect that with the vision center line that is the station point. A consequence of this, is that generally for 2 point perspective drawings you should place your your vanishing points further from each other than you want your drawing to be high, otherwise your perspective implies that what you are drawing is in behind your viewer which is impossible.

Guidelines Generally placing the station point first gives you great control over your drawing as it is easier to plan everything out relative to the station point. Practically you would probably want to establish your image plane for sizing, then choose your station point depending either on your preferred angle of view or relative distance to the picture plane. Note that choosing a angle of view larger than 60 degrees, or relative viewing distance smaller than 2 times your height will result in distortion that will look "unnatural".

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