Foreshortening Art

foreshortening definition

Foreshortening is a perspective technique in which the artist can create an illusion of objects receding into the distance.  By shortening a subject, any artist can make it appear to be further away. This practice helps to maximize the dimension and depth of drawings or paintings. You can use foreshortening techniques on any drawn object, from figures to landscapes.


Whenever you paint or draw an object in three-dimensional space, you will have to use some degree of foreshortening. You can use foreshortening definition to bring that extra degree of realism to any composition.


Foreshortening became popular during the early Renaissance. Andrea Mantegna was one of the first pioneers. His painting, Lamentation of Christ (1480) exemplify this technique.

learning to foreshorten

Depending on the objects you want to depict, you may use different foreshortening techniques. There are several available options, and you can try them all out to find which one works best for you.

foreshorten a figure

Drawing a human figure from an unusual perspective can be challenging. Using foreshortening techniques is essential for drawing a realistic and proportional figure in space.

geometry technique

When you are trying to wrap your head around human anatomy, at the same time as trying to foreshorten the figure, breaking the body down into simple geometric shapes can be very effective.

foreshorten landscapes

This is less complex in landscape scenes, but it is not absent. Artists also need to know how to create foreshortened drawings that enhance realism and create a sense of depth.


Objects will appear to shrink in size as they move into the distance. The shapes of foreshortened objects will become more compressed and begin to overlap the further away they are from the viewer’s vantage point.