Perspective in Needlepoint
This needlepoint instruction will serve as a guide to help you make good choices of stitches and color to give an impression of space in needlepoint.
Achieving perspective in drawing is hard (I never got the hang of it), but taking something painted or drawn for you and making the choices to enhance the perspective already there turns you needlepoint into something superb.
Without doing this, your needlepoint looks flat. The color and stitch choices are similar enough that they flatten the piece so that everything looks jammed up at the front of the design.
Or even worse, the color or stitch choice doesn’t conform to the principles of perspective and so the shape of things and the colors or stitches of those same things don’t match. I don’t know about you, but this kind of problem makes me vaguely uneasy.
But you can avoid this so easily. You don’t need to do anything new, you don’t need to learn a new technique, you just need to apply what you know to the needlepoint before you. While this needlepoint instruction might seem long, it’s mostly explanation, the things you need to do to achieve great perspective in your needlepoint are quite simple.
We’ll refer to the Waterlilies piece, shown in process at the top of the article as an example throughout this needlepoint instruction.
Learning about Perspective
Perspective is the method by which we translate the three dimensional world into a two dimensional picture. In other words, it’s the way we draw things so they look “normal.”
The method to draw things in perspective is complicated, and there are many methods to do this. As stitchers we don’t have to worry about drawing, just picking the right combination. You’ll learn how to do so right here.
Want to learn about perspective? Just look out your window or at a photograph of a landscape. The principles of perspective will be right there in front of you.
There are three things to remember. As elements get farther away they get:
darker and more gray in color
Once you know this, you know everything you need to make choices about stitches and color in stitching your needlepoint. Now just use the tips in this needlepoint instruction to apply these principles to your design.
Making your Choices – Color
Begin by thinking about color. Let’s say you have four leaves, as we do in Waterlilies. You can tell by the shapes that they overlap, so there is distance pictured.
The leaf closest to the center is on top, but behind the flower. You can tell how close items are in line drawings by seeing how much of their outline is shown. The closest item will show a complete outline. Those at the back will show the least.
The leaves move backwards as we move to the left side of the drawing. So they should be shaded from light to dark, going from center to left. The unstitched leaf on top is clearly behind the top two leaves, but you can’t see enough of it to see if it’s behind the bottom leaf or not, I decided it was and made it the darkest color.
By deciding this you made the most important and easiest decision in this whole needlepoint instruction. You have probably already picked threads or pictured colors in your mind. Now you just use this principle to apply them correctly onto the canvas.
Light colors go in front of dark colors.
Bright colors go in front of dull colors.
In a sequence of items which are on top of each other, always shade from light and bright on top to dark and dull on bottom.
Making your Choices – Stitches
As elements in a design get farther away they get less detailed. Your choice of stitches should reflect this. Stitches have size, based on how many threads a stitch covers. For these three leaves, stitches of three different sizes were chosen, enhancing the feeling of space. The top leaf is stitched in Needlepoint Stem Stitch, which covers four threads. The middle leaf is stitched in Smyrna Cross, which covers two threads. The back leaf is stitched in Basketweave, which covers one thread.
Everything you need to know about choosing stitches to enhance perspective is here: Stitches get smaller as they get farther away.
Making your Choices – Threads
Although this piece doesn’t use this technique as stitchers we have another tool at our disposal for making perspective, our choice of thread. Threads have size too. The thicker the thread, to more forward an area of that thread becomes.
So, if this piece was n 14 mesh and I wanted to show perspective with threads, I might stitch the top leaf in #3 pearl cotton, the middle leaf in #5 pearl cotton, and the bottom leaf in floss.
This is more subtle than the other two methods of showing perspective, but it a piece seems a bit off, take a look at thread texture, that might be the problem.
Now wasn’t that easy?
Even if you only know a couple of stitches, or even just one, and if you are stitching using one kind of thread, you can use the rules in this needlepoint instruction to enhance the perspective in your needlepoint and give it a spacious, realistic feel.