In movies the best special effects are the ones you can’t detect, in photomontage applies the same. How many times we look at a montage and instinctively we detect there is something wrong; the subject clearly looks superimposed.

There is a very simple rule that applies in every image and it can make your subjects really appear like they were placed originally in the shot.

The Horizon and The Eye Level

The Horizon / Eye Level is the axis around which a perspective drawing is constructed. We use the horizon as a point of reference to judge the scale and distance of objects in relation to us.

1. The Horizon is always at the same level as the viewer’s eye.

It doesn’t matter if you are sitting, or standing, when you look straight ahead you see the horizon.

2. Small people like children will be below the line, bigger people above the line.

3. You can change the emphasis of the picture for example placing a subject above the line making it appear we look up to them.

With this simple rule now you can correctly position and scale different subjects in a composition

Here is a practical example.

Step 1 Set the Horizon

In your background image draw z-axis lines to show the image perspective

The point where all the z-lines cross is the vanishing point. Place a horizontal guide in that point a draw a line

This is the horizon

creating the horizon


eye level

Step 2 Place your subjects

For this example we will use the same subject so you can better appreciate the effect.

Place you subject and scale it. It doesn’t matter how small it is. Now place it so its eyes match the horizon line

Scale the same subject a little bigger, as before place it matching her eyes with the horizon line

position subject eye level

We can do this several times and if we place our subjects along with the horizon line they will look correctly position and scale according to the room or background.

multiple subjects eye level

External resources:

Perspective Drawing – The Horizon and The Eye Level

How the Horizon Line Controls Perspective in Art

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Javier Cantero

Javier Cantero