Do you want to learn perspective?
Does perspective intimidate you?
When I was a drawing beginner, I found perspective unnecessary to learn. I considered it only for mechanical and architectural artists. I understood basic perspective, but didn’t think how learning it could improve my art. Furthermore, I dismissed eye level, one point perspective and even learning it. How wrong I was! Only until I discovered how much I didn’t know, and got to grips with it, that it helped improve my work tenfold.
Does perspective sends fear through your veins? It’s ok, we all went through that pain at some point. However, have no fear, as this blog post is here to help alleviate your perspective fears. It will help you get to grips with 1 point, 2 point and 3 point perspective. The good news is that perspective is not too difficult either once you get your head around it. If you’re doubting whether perspective can help your art, look at some of your favourite artists. Coupled with learning composition, colour and style, these artistic masters have perspective nailed down to a tee.
Within this blog post, I’m going to sharing the essential guide to 1 point, 2 point and 3 point perspective. We will go into eye level, the horizon line, and help you gain perspective confidence.
Why Is Learning Perspective Important?
“Drawing is based upon perspective, which is nothing else than a thorough knowledge of the function of the eye.” — Leonardo da Vinci
Even if you’re not a landscape artist, understanding perspective can still help your art. 1, 2 and 3 point perspective is a core perspective fundamental. Having this knowledge at your fingertips can help your drawing in so many ways. It can help your portrait drawings, life drawings to still lifes. I could go on and on, but it’s surprising how often perspective comes into play.
Having a good grasp of perspective is also essential for those of you who create imaginative art. Creating imaginative works from photographs is great. However, if you’re drawing from your imagination, perspective knowledge is crucial. I’m always trying to learn more about perspective to develop further.
Not only does perspective help your compositional arrangements, learning perspective is also enlightening. Learning perspective lets you see how objects follows these rules. It’s your own eureka moment! Similar to the scene in ‘The Matrix’ where Neo takes the red bill, with Morpheus showing him the ‘real truth’. Perspective is your real truth. So now you know why perspective is important to learn, let’s start with the basics – eye level and vanishing point.
If you’re still not inspired by learning perspective, then looking at the late (very sad, gone too early) Kim Jung Gi will help solve your motivation issues. He was the champion of perspective, and you can clearly see he has throughly mastered it. One of my favourite videos by Jung G shows exactly how he uses perspective, even with drawing faces. As perspective is seen everywhere, in figures, buildings to faces.
The Eye Level & Vanishing Point
It all starts with the eye level. As Stephanie Bower elegantly says:
“Instead of using the concept of “Horizon Line” used in every other book or class I’ve ever seen on perspective, I use the concept of “Eye Level Line” or “Eye Line”.
To help you get to grips with perspective, you need to understand eye level. Your eye level is the horizon line. It’s the level of your eyes looking straight ahead of you. Your eye level increases (or gets higher) when you climb stairs, and decreases when you sit on a chair or lie on the floor. Even though you may be on the floor or climbing stairs, it’s still your eye level, regardless of how high up you are.
Imagine looking straight ahead, and draw an imaginary horizontal line in front of you. This is your eye level or horizon line. Now I want you to draw this line on a piece of paper. Have a look at the example image below, this is my eye line, but on an art-board that I’ve created.
Once you’ve drawn a line (which is your eye level), now place a dot on this line. This is your vanishing point. The vanishing point is where receding parallel lines disappear, whilst viewed in perspective. Try this for yourself by looking out a window with a view. See objects conform to the eye level, horizon, vanishing points. Below shows my eye level line. They conform to a vanishing point, eye level or horizon.
From here, you can start to create a 1 point perspective drawing. To do so, get yourself a ruler, and draw lines from your vanishing point dot. Lines and gaps become wider when closer to the viewer. In contrast, lines become smaller and condensed whilst near to the vanishing point. Now try drawing boxes, like my image below. The tops of the boxes show below your eye level. In contrast, the bottom part of the boxes show above your eye level.
This is crucial part of perspective that you need to understand. The things have are above your eye level will look differently to things below your eye level. You may also notice that things that sit on your eye level are parallel to this line.
Understanding 2 & 3 Point Perspective
1 point perspective is very similar to both 2 and 3 point perspective, and is still easy to grasp. With 2 point perspective, instead of your lines protruding from one point or vanishing point, your lines protrude from 2 points. With 3 point perspective, your lines protrude from 3 points. Take a look at the image below which shows 2 point perspective.
You can see that I’ve drawn an eye level, and two vanishing points on that line. From here, I’ve drawn lines from these points, and have created a box. Try this for yourself by drawing an eye level, 2 points on that line, and drawing lines from these two points. See if you can create different boxes using 2 point perspective, like my image below. And there you go, you’ve created a 2 point perspective drawing!
The great news is that 3 point is pretty much a follow on – as objects conform to 3 points. Looking at my image below, I’ve drawn an eye level, 2 points on this line, and also a third point underneath that line. This third point (which is not on the eye level line), may confuse you, but not all vanishing points have to sit on the eye level. Like this image below, you can see that this building has 3 point perspective – one on the left and right, and one underneath, going way up to the sky. To create one yourself, draw your eye level, 2 points on this line and a point somewhere underneath, and see how many boxes you can draw from these points, like my image below.
The Problems & Solutions With Perspective
Sometimes drawing with straight lines from your vanishing point can make drawings seem stiff and unnatural, so it’s important to keep this in mind when drawing from perspective. Try and keep it as natural as possible when drawing from perspective.
Another issue is that your vanishing points may sit far off your paper or art-board. This is a problem that I have encountered, and it can become very frustrating! You just want to draw from perspective, but your vanishing points are just too far off your paper (and you might not have a paper large enough to do so)! For this reason, physically drawing vanishing points may not be realistic, which makes learning perspective even more important. Having a clear understanding of perspective can help you create realistic pieces, without necessarily drawing line after line from vanishing points.
Noticing point perspective when you’re out & about
Now you understand 1, 2, and 3 point perspective, you can start to notice these 3 elements when you’re out and about. Not only is it enlightening to see why houses around your neighbourhood look a certain way, by constantly viewing your environment with curiosity can help strengthen your knowledge of perspective. Take the knowledge that you have learnt today and apply it to your art, but also when you’re walking around outside, and see perspective in reality!
To recap, perspective has five important things to consider;
1 – The eye level: an imaginary horizontal line from your eyes, which is also called the horizon line
2 – Vanishing point: where receding parallel lines disappear that are viewed in perspective
3 – 1 point perspective: perspective that adheres to one dot on your eye level
4 – 2 point perspective: perspective that follows to two dots on your eye level
5 – 3 point perspective: perspective that anchors to three dots (with not all dots necessarily resting on your eye level).
I hope you have enjoyed this blog post guys, and it has helped you get to grips with perspective! I’ll love to hear what you think of it in the comments section below. Do ask me any questions that you may have with perspective, as I’ll be more than happy to answer them.
If you enjoyed this article, check out my recent blog post, on helping you create an illustrator portfolio! If you’re unfamiliar with me or my work, do check out my illustration shop. Offering high-quality art prints, canvas paintings and greetings cards.
Many thanks guys, and see you on the next blog post!