Perspective Drawing made simple! Here’s an overview of the different types of linear perspective and when to use them in your drawing.
Overview of Perspective Drawing
Today we’ll be looking at the 3 main forms of linear perspective drawing that you should know if you’re looking to improve your drawing skills. This is by no means an in-depth lesson on perspective drawing but merely an overview aimed at the question: Which form of perspective should I use?
There are many types of perspective drawing. Linear perspective refers to using a set of rules that guide a drawing’s lines towards various vanishing point(s). This converging of lines is what helps an artist achieve the illusion of depth within a drawing. You’ll see exactly how an artist uses a vanishing point in the upcoming illustrations. You’ll quickly be able to use what I’m about to share in your next drawing or painting. Whether still life or landscape , knowing which form of perspective to use will serve you extremely well.
Anytime an artist creates the look of deep space within her artwork she has typically used some form of perspective drawing. Linear perspective provides one way to create this deep space in one’s artwork. Linear Perspective helps us draw geometric, box-like forms and environments that appear grid-like. As a result, linear perspective is most helpful for drawing architecture, interiors, and box-like still life objects. Perspective drawing is less helpful when drawing portraits and other organic objects.
There are 3 main types of linear perspective:
- One Point Perspective
- Two Point perspective
- Three Point Perspective
I’ll be giving a brief overview of each type of linear perspective drawing. Most importantly I’ll be describing the circumstances under which you should use each.
One Point Perspective
One point perspective is a type of linear perspective drawing that uses a single vanishing point to create the illusion of depth in an artist’s drawing. Simply begin by drawing the closest side of any geometric object and connect its corners to a single vanishing point. The vanishing point represents a point infinitely far away. You’ll want to end the object prior to reaching the actual vanishing point.
One point perspective is as simple as it gets and will yield elementary results. However, 1pt. perspective represents an important first step when getting acquainted with perspective drawing. Use one point perspective when you are drawing geometric objects facing you. One point perspective is especially useful for teaching young students a formulaic method for drawing objects smaller as they recede from vision. Rember: Don’t expect to achieve high realism with only a single vanishing point!
Two Point Perspective
An artist will get a more realistic look to his drawing when using the two point perspective method of drawing. Under most circumstances you will want to include your vanishing points outside of your actual drawing, far away from the scene you are creating.
Two point perspective is useful for any realistic drawing that is not intended to show any extreme height (low or high). This form of linear perspective is great for drawing parts of a still life (the geometric objects) and buildings that are far away when you are gazing straight ahead and they are not too high or low compared to your line of sight/eye level. Check out the illustration below for a quick and easy crash course on two point perspective!
UPDATE: I just published a massive guide to drawing in two-point perspective. I explain all the basics using many step by step illustration. I know you’re going love it!
Three Point Perspective
Once you understand two point perspective, three point perspective is a slight adaptation to the technique. By adding a third vanishing point either below or above one’s drawing an artist can convey the illusion of height in their artwork. Notice in the illustration below how the vertical lines of the box are no longer parallel? That’s precisely what differentiates three point perspective from two point perspective. Three point perspective accounts for the height of the scene being drawn.
Which Form of Perspective Do I Use?
That’s a matter of your own personal perspective! Uh okay, that was a bad joke… but seriously now. One point perspective is an important building block for young artists but should be quickly replaced by two or even three point perspective for added realism. One point perspective will most often look very amateurish and exhibit large distortions in the outer regions of one’s perspective drawing.
So that leaves two-point perspective (2 vanishing points) and three-point-perspective (3 vanishing points). Here’s good advice on choosing which form of linear perspective to use:
If you want to show the height of something use three point perspective, otherwise simply use two point perspective. By height I mean that you want to convey the feeling of looking up or down at your subject matter.
This artist wants to depict buildings near eye level and from a line of sight that is relatively horizontal with the ground (level). In this perspective scenario, 2 point perspective is the appropriate drawing technique to use.
This artist wants to depict the tallness of a building and directs the viewer’s line of sight up towards the top of the building. In this previous illustration, three point perspective is by far the most appropriate drawing technique.
Remember that you are always telling a visual story when you draw. It matters how many vanishing points you use and where you place them. The method of linear perspective you choose determines how your viewer interprets your drawing.
Have a question? Fire away!