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PhiNotPi's avatar

Could a person who lacks depth perception potentially be a better artist?

Asked by PhiNotPi (12198 points ) August 31st, 2012

I am not a very good artist. Whenever I try to sketch something from the real world onto a 2D piece of paper, I feel like I can never get the objects to be the correct size, or the lines at the correct angles. I think that the problem that I have is that I don’t do a very good job of taking 3D objects and “flattening” them onto a piece of paper. Since I have depth perception (like most people), my brain tells me that an object that is farther away is larger, even if it takes up the same area on my visual field. It also tells me that certain lines (like the edge of my table) are horizontal, even though they are at closer to a 60 degree angle on my visual field.

This made me wonder if a person who lacks depth perception could potentially be a better artist, since they would not receive conflicting signals as to what angle something is in real life vs what angle it appears to be. Even though cases of people lacking depth perception are incredibly rare, I remember reading one article in which the person compared her own vision to a child’s drawing (she received some sort of therapy that allowed her to gain depth perception later in life).

Could lacking depth perception potentially help somebody draw something?

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8 Answers

flutherother's avatar

It is difficult to compare artists, each expresses his own vision his (or her) own way. Though they may use similar colours and techniques each has their own perception of the world. I would say that someone lacking depth perception could be as good an artist as any other. Take Chinese art, it lacks a sense of perspective and yet it is as highly developed as Western art. But those familiar with Western art and its use of perspective may not like it or understand it.

creative1's avatar

I think its how you see the details of the item and the ability to break that object down in lines rather than lacking a sense of depth perception. This skill takes lots and lots of practice over many years to achieve.

Shippy's avatar

I think it depends on what the artist is trying to “show” us. As that is what art is all about, I think? If the painting or drawing was realism based, then a good sense of depth etc., would be very necessary, if the painting was abstract that probably wouldn’t count for much. Plus a lot of depth or scenery is often made by suggestion in a painting, whereas a CAD technologist would focus more on exact perception.

filmfann's avatar

I always wondered if Van Gogh maybe just needed glasses.

Sunny2's avatar

@filmfann I have read that this is exactly the case; that he painted what he saw. True? It’s definitely a theory.

dabbler's avatar

I’m with @Shippy on this one. The importance of accuracy in a drawing depends greatly on what an artist intends to communicate. If your point can be expressed without depth accuracy then that does not matter at all.
There are plenty of good drawing course books out there if you need to improve that particular skill. Methods abound. But nothing beats practice, hours and hours of non-judging practice, to help improve that sort of thing. Keep at it and see how you develop.
Ref: Arthur Guptill, “Drawing with Pen and Ink”; Ray Smith “The Artist’s Handbook”

downtide's avatar

I was born blind in one eye so I have never had any depth perception, and I think I’m a pretty good artist. I have no idea if I would be better or worse without this disability. A lot of it is natural gift and encouragement in childhood; both my parents are artistic.

lifeflame's avatar

Maybe.
But mainly I believe it’s about presumptions about space, which I think you begin to develop even if you were born without depth perception.

There’s an exercise where you try to copy a portrait that is upside down. Because people cannot rely on their assumptions of distances, many people stat approaching it technically and end up with a more realistic drawing.

By the way, when I measure (mark) distances – e.g., how many heads is this body ?—I often use one eye. I guess when I’m doing that I’m actually collapsing my depth field.

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