Perspective drawing is a vital artistic technique if you’re interested in conveying spatial representations on paper. Today you’ll learn the 2 Point Perspective method of drawing by means of simple Step by Step instruction!
Defining Two Point Perspective
Two Point Perspective is a type of linear perspective. Two Point Perspective is a systematic way of drawing box-like objects or anything that can be logically arranged into a geometric, grid-like structure. This 2pt drawing method is defined by 2 vanishing points that represent 2 convergence points and infinite distance away. All geometric objects that are arranged perpendicular or parallel to each other will have drawn sides that converge on each vanishing point. This will become super clear in the examples to come.
Why Learning 2pt. Perspective is Important
Learning 2 pt perspective is one of the smartest things you can do as an artist. As a result you’ll be able to correctly identify the angles that sides of objects make and draw them accurately.
2 pt. perspective is really just a recipe for drawing geometric objects with special realism. It’s a very important stepping stone in your quest to become a better artist. Whether drawing or painting you’ll encounter perspective drawing issues everywhere. Even in places you wouldn’t think to such as portraits and landscape art, but more on that later.
Have you ever tried to draw a city scape, or a bunch of houses? How about an interior scene or a table top scattered with books?
How did it go?
I’m guessing not so well and that’s why you’re here reading this! Once you understand how to see objects and environments in perspective they become so much easier to draw. You won’t have to guess as much as before. Remember, two point perspective is a drawing system. You just need to follow the system to get good results every time, with no guess work!
Sounds pretty good right? It is.
Step by Step Perspective Instructions
The following section contains many step by step illustrations to help you understand the 2-point perspective system at work. Each illustration is color coded for easier understanding.
You’ll start off by drawing a two point perspective drawing of a building. I’ve chosen a house for this building’s structure. This will give you a solid foundation for drawing a building’s exterior. This will prime you for drawing more complicated perspective drawings such as cityscapes, town centers… anything architectural really.
For the second lesson I’m going to show you how to draw a bedroom in proper 2pt. perspective. An understanding of a bedroom will enable you to draw interior scenes in proper perspective.
If you read the introduction you’ll recall that there are two vanishing points in a 2 pt. perspective drawing. No surprise there!
Just to make everything super easy to understand I’ll be creating a red vanishing point on the left and a green vanishing point on the right. What’s the point?
Heh heh… no pun intended!
Any of the receding lines (perspective lines) that need to be drawn to the left vanishing point will also be drawn in red. All lines that need to meet at the right-hand vanishing point will be drawn in green. To contrast all vertical lines will be drawn using black. Please note: all vertical lines in a 2pt. perspective rendering need to be parallel. There will be some other types of special lines too. Let me give you a key that you can refer back to:
Perspective Color-coded Key
Use this color key to guide you through both step by step perspective drawing tutorials below.
Cool! Here we go…
One of my favorite ways to teach 2pt. perspective is to draw a house. It’s a structure that’s more or less familiar to just about everyone and it contains some really great features for perspective training!
Make sure you draw all of your lines with a ruler or straight edge. Otherwise you’re going to have a mess on your hands while attempting to learn this.
Drawing A House Using 2pt. Perspective
Learning to draw a simple house in proper perspective is a great exercise. We’ll start off constructing a simple box (rectangular solid). We’ll then turn this box into a house by adding details such as a roof, a door and a walkway!
The first thing you need to do is to establish your horizon line and two vanishing points. For now you can draw the horizon line near the center of your paper. You’re going to want to place your vanishing points as far apart as possible and both points need to be drawn on the horizon line.
The horizon line is a horizontal line that represents eye level.
Next you should draw the closest corner of the house. This is nothing more than a vertical line.
To create the front side of the house you should connect the top and bottom ends of your vertical line to the left-hand vanishing point.
You’ll have to decide how far back this wall extends. Pick a distance and end the side with a vertical line. Remember that all vertical lines in this drawing will be parallel to each other.
Repeat the same procedure for the other side of the house / box. These lines can be seen below in green.
It’s worth reminding that I have color-coded then entire drawing. Notice how the red lines are drawn to the left-hand vanishing point, the green lines are drawn to the right-hand vanishing point and the black lines are all perfectly vertical and parallel to each other.
The top of the box can be drawn by connecting the remaining top corners to their appropriate vanishing points. Check out the diagram below!
At this point in the drawing it would be a good idea to clean things up a bit. Erase any extra lengths you have on your lines.
Finding the middle of something that is drawn in 2 point perspective is not as easy as measuring it. Because a perspective drawing accounts for visual space, things need to get smaller as they recede away from the viewer of the drawing. To put this another way, the back half of the box needs to be smaller than the front half!
Draw the spatial perspective properly!
Fortunately there’s an easy way to do this. Borrowing a simple technique from geometry we can find the perspective middle of our box by connecting opposite corners. This lines (yellow) are only temporary so you should draw them very lightly.
Next, with a perfectly vertical line you want to intersect the perspective middle of the box. This divides the box into two halves that are properly compensated in size for your perspective drawing.
Get used to the procedure for calculating perspective middles. You’ll end up using this technique often!
Now that you have the middle of the box located, you can add a door. There! Now this box is starting to resemble a house.
Before you attempt to draw a roof you need to calculate the perspective middle. Check out the yellow lines drawn below. I’m using the same procedure we used to position the door.
At this stage of the drawing you can decide how tall or how much pitch the roof will have. Pick a point somewhere on the perspective middle (the tall yellow line). Next you’ll connect that point to each of the top two corners of the right wall. (drawn in purple)
Next we’ll construct the ridge line portion of the roof. That’s the highest part of the roof. This is simple. Just connect the point you established in the previous step to the left-hand vanishing point.
Note: The next 3 steps require special attention. Most people fake or guess the angle and positioning for the final line that constructs the roof. But, there is a precise way to draw it. It requires some extra, temporary lines but is worth learning. Watch this…
You are going to construct the back wall of the house even though we can’t really see it. Do this lightly.
Now divide that wall into its perspective halves.
Where the vertical line representing the perspective half (yellow) intersects with the ridgeline (red) that is where the final line should be directed to. Simply note the intersection and connect it to the remaining left-hand corner. I’m doing this in purple.
Good job! I’m sure you’ve got some extra lines drawn. Erase them before continuing please.
Finally you can invite some guests into our house drawing by adding a walkway. Keep your cool and don’t just make up your own angles. Make sure you are drawing your lines to the proper vanishing point.
You can even draw a direction change in the walkway. My house has a walkway that very similar to this one! Notice how I’m using the other vanishing point to create the direction change in the walkway?
If your drawing is all caught up fantastic! Now you need to challenge yourself. Can you add some windows to the front and side of your house? How can you divide up the space so that they are positioned symmetrically yet compensate for perspective? (Hint use the “x” finding middle technique repeatedly)
Drawing a Bedroom in 2pt Perspective
How about a Two Point Perspective Bedroom?
Drawing the house showed you how to draw an exterior of a building but what about drawing interiors in two point perspective? Let me show you a simple step by step example for drawing a simple interior…
The first step you need to accomplish is to establish your horizon line and two vanishing points. For now you can draw the horizon line near the center of your paper. You’re going to want to place your vanishing points as far apart as possible and both points need to be drawn on the horizon line.
Remember: the horizon line is the horizontal line that represents eye level to the viewer. Anything placed below this line and we’ll see the top. Anything placed above the horizon line and we won’t see the top, but will see the bottom. This is assuming of course that the top and/or bottom planes are visible.
Next you should draw the farthest corner of the bedroom’s interior. This can be anywhere in between the two vanishing points but for now we’ll put it near the middle. I’ll represent this vertical line using the color black.
To draw an interior wall of the bedroom, connect the top and bottom of the vertical line to a vanishing point. When drawing interiors, walls go to opposite corners. This tends to confuse beginners so pay special attention here. The wall on the left gets connected to the vanishing point on the right.
Now you can draw the other wall. Remember that I’m color-coding things here so you can follow along with no problems!
The color key is located above.
Have you noticed that I’ve drawn the lines that represent the walls in perspective so that they trail off and don’t really end anywhere?
This is because when you are inside a room you generally can’t see the beginning of the walls. They usually start behind your field of vision and emerge into view.
With the empty shell of the room drawn we can now add perspective elements. Let’s turn this empty box into a bedroom! Let’s draw a bed. A bed is nothing more than a box. We can use our vanishing points to draw it. We can start by laying out the frontal plane of the bed.
Next you can draw the other side of the bed.
Finally, use your pencil and ruler to draw the top of the bed. Don’t guess at the angles. Use the vanishing points when drawing your 2 point perspective bedroom!
Yep, it’s nothing more than a box! (btw… you can add hand drawn details later such as pillows, sheets, etc.)
It would be wise to clean up the drawing. You should erase the parts of the wall that would be blocked by the bed.
You need a doorway to get into your bedroom perspective drawing! Let’s add a doorway now!
You can even use one of the vanishing points to make it look like the door is open.
Pretty cool huh?
A bedroom wouldn’t be complete without a window. Make sure you are still using the vanishing points. Here… I’ll show you below…
Finally you can erase any extra lines you had used in the creation of the window.
How about adding some cool posters to your bedroom wall? Remember that in a perspective drawing everything has a very controlled presentation. You pick the size and placement of the poster but it has to be drawn to one of the vanishing points.
It’s now your turn to add more elements to your drawing of a bedroom. What else belongs there that can be drawn using the two point perspective method? Take your time and be creative!
Need some ideas? Try drawing a few of these items:
- Night stand
- Alarm clock
- Tv & video game console
- Throw rug
- Book shelves
Checking Your Drawing
Linear perspective drawings using 2 vanishing points are fairly easy to evaluate once you get the hang of them. You are drawing according to a set of rules. These rules state that anything that is part of the box-like structure must be 1 of only 3 line types:
- A perspective line meeting at vanishing point #1
- A perspective line meeting at vanishing point #2
- A vertical line
This is why a person with great perspective drawing experience can spot mistakes amongst hundreds and even thousands of drawn lines very quickly. There are only 3 possible correct answers for most lines.
The only exception here would be nonconforming lines, lines that do not fit into the 3D grid that the other box-like objects line up to. You experienced these nonconforming lines in the pitch of the roof during the house drawing tutorial above.
Keep practicing. You’ll get better at spotting your drawing mistakes. Remember, you don’t pick the angles of the lines, they are determined by each vanishing point.
I can’t emphasize enough how important a formal education in perspective drawing is. Once you know the basic rules that govern how to draw 3D space on a 2D surface, drawing becomes many times easier. I can tell you from personal experience that once drawing becomes easier it becomes more fun too!
If you just skimmed through this page and have gotten to this point that’s great. Thanks for reading. But you really need to take ownership of your drawing education. Grab a pencil and a ruler, go back and actually do the tutorials. Draw both the house and the bedroom explained in the tutorials above.
You’ll want to commit the 2pt. perspective drawing method to memory. Even when you attempt to draw or paint subject matter that doesn’t seem worthy of perspective such as still life, landscape, and even portraiture, your perspective knowledge will help you in ways you can’t even imagine!
Have a question? As always, chime in below.