Do you want to learn perspective?
Does perspective intimidate you?
When I was a drawing beginner, I found perspective unnecessary to learn, as I considered it only for mechanical and architectural drawing. I understood perspective on basic terms. Things further away from the viewer are smaller and more condensed, however I dismissed things like eye level, one point perspective and things of that nature. Only until I read up on it (and discovered how much I didn’t know!) and truly got to grips with perspective, that it helped improve my work tenfold.
If perspective sends fear through your veins, this blog post is here to help alleviate your perspective fears. You will learn and get to grips with 1 point, 2 point and 3 point perspective. The good news is that perspective is not too difficult either – which is great! If you’re still doubting whether learning perspective can help you, look at some of your favourite artists or illustrators. Depending on their style, I’m confident that their use of perspective is on-point.
Within this blog post, I’m going to sharing the essential guide to 1 point, 2 point and 3 point perspective. This article will help you understand eye level, the horizon line, and help you gain confidence and knowledge to try yourself. There will be images on hand to help you (like most of my blog posts), and of course you can always ask me questions in the comments section at the bottom of this blog post – so let’s get started!
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, and when you’re drawing you can take what you have learnt and apply it to your work. Having this knowledge at your fingertips can also help you understand why objects (items around your home for instance) look a certain way.
A good understanding of perspective is essential for those of you who create imaginative art. In contrast to creating art from life and observation (where you can see how objects conform to perspective in the real world), when creating art from your imagination you have to use your knowledge of perspective to construct your pieces. Of course you can draw from photographs to form your imaginative pieces (so you can actively see the perspective within the photograph), but if you’re solely drawing from your imagination and nothing else, having a strong knowledge of perspective is crucial. It’s vastly improved my drawings and artwork, and I’m always trying to develop my understanding of perspective to develop further.
Not only does learning perspective help your compositional arrangement, learning perspective is also enlightening. Once you learn perspective you will begin to see how objects follows these rules. It’s your own eureka moment, and is 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.
The Eye Level & Vanishing Point
It all starts with the eye level.
To help you get to grips with perspective, you need to understand eye level. An eye level is the horizon line. Eye level is the level of your eyes looking straight ahead of you. The 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 have drawn a line (which is your eye level), now place a dot on this line. This is your vanishing point. You may have heard this phrase before, but the vanishing point is where receding parallel lines disappear that are viewed in perspective. Try this for yourself by looking out a window with a view. See how buildings, objects and nature conform to the eye level, horizon, vanishing points. Below shows my eye level line, with a vanishing point, and I’ve also included a few photographs that conform to a vanishing point, see how everything abides by the eye level or horizon.
From here, you can start to create a 1 point perspective drawing. To do so, simply get yourself a ruler, and draw lines from your vanishing point dot, like my image below. You can see that your lines and gaps become wider when they are drawing close to the viewer, and smaller and more condensed whilst near to the vanishing point. Now try drawing boxes within your drawing, like my image below. Notice that you can see the top of the boxes that are below your eye level, but you can only see the bottom part of the boxes 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. 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. 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.
Perspective Resources To Help You Even More
From one, two, to three point perspective, I hope this article has helped improve your perspective understanding. Now you’ve got a good understanding of point perspective, here’s some further resources to help push understanding of perspective to the next level.
Drawabox.com – this resource features Drawabox’s famous 250 box challenge, where you draw 250 boxes to build your confidence of drawing boxes from any angle, without perspective lines. I recommend you start from Lesson 0.
LoveLifeDrawing – I’ve always been a good advocate of LoveLifeDrawing’s Youtube channel for their great videos and content. This video will help you understand how eye level works with perspective.
Perspective Made Easy – This is a great book if you want to get to the heart of understanding perspective. Reasonable priced and certainly a recommended read!
Notice Perspective 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: that adheres to one dot from eye level.
4 – 2 point perspective: that follows two dots from 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.
I regularly post articles to help you out, and my latest book review of James Gurney’s ‘Colour & Light’ book is no exception! If you’re unfamiliar with myself or my work, I’m a freelance illustrator and designer from Hampshire, UK. I specialist in editorial, publishing and advertising illustration, and you can check out my illustration portfolio. Bursting full of new work for you to look through.
Many thanks guys, and see you on the next blog post!