Perspective Drawing Exercises
The following represents some perspective drawing exercises that aim to challenge your knowledge of perspective. It’s not just about copying the illustrations on this page but fully understanding the framework from which each illustration is derived.
I’ll be using both one point perspective and two point perspective in the exercises throughout.
Learn the rules of perspective and drawing becomes easier…and more fun too!
The first thing any beginner can warm up with is a simple cube drawn in one point perspective. You may have seen this before but it’s an important first step to getting things right.
Can you draw it so it looks like a perfect cube?
Make sure each of your vertical lines are parallel to each other. Also do this for all of your horizontally drawn lines. The only lines not parallel will be your perspective lines. These of course are angled back to the point.
The previous drawing is of a cube drawn in the one point perspective method of drawing. It’s a very important exercise for beginning artists. Make sure you can draw the cube properly in space!
Not to worry these drawing exercises will increase in difficulty.
Learn the 8 Positions
The following scenario will challenge you to understand how perspective cubes are drawn in various locations. Don’t underestimate the power of this particular exercise. In fact, do not attempt to draw buildings, interiors or anything else until you can do this part successfully.
Some of the key takeaways here have to do with the horizon line.
- When cubes are above the horizon line we can see its bottom
- When cubes are below the horizon line we can see its top
- When cubes are positioned on the horizon line we cannot see the top nor the bottom
Practice drawing perspective cubes and everything else becomes easier! The reason is simple: almost every object we represent on paper can be reduced to simple box-like objects or positioned in space according to a grid. And of course any grid on paper is really just a single perspective plane!
How about a 9th position? There is a 9th perspective position that places the object right on the vanishing point. In doing this there isn’t any perspective showing because viewers only see the front facing plane.
After drawing all of your boxes take a look. Do they look like cubes floating in space? Are they all the same size? Are the boxes level with each other? If not go back and modify your lines so things look realistic on paper.
Sketch Loosely First
Most artists will hand draw their perspective lines first. This allows the artist to feel out the space and explore the composition faster. It allows the ideas in an artist’s head to be placed on paper quickly and not be confined by tools such as rulers and vanishing points.
After getting some of the objects drawn on paper the vanishing point(s) locations can then be determined. Yes you can sketch first and place your points second. It’s easier to get the results you want this way.
Does this mean you shouldn’t use a ruler? No, using a ruler is a great idea.
You should use a ruler…but the ruler comes later when you need to firm up your lines after you have gotten your initial perspective sketch out of your imagination and onto paper!
You can see in the example above how some of my hand drawn lines were not quite/correctly connecting to the vanishing points. That’s to be expected because it was just a quick sketch and I didn’t use a ruler at that stage of the drawing.
In 1pt. And 2pt.
Try some of these perspective drawing practice exercises to challenge your understanding of the rules and techniques of perspective!
Take a look at the rectangle below. Notice how it is divided up into quarter sections vertically? It’s easy to do and does not require any measuring. Simply connect opposite the corners of the outer rectangle (gray lines). That will locate the middle of the rectangle. From there we can draw in a vertical line. Now the rectangle has been split into halves. We can repeat this process on each half to end up with quarters. Notice the green drawn lines.
Once you understand the technique of dividing spaces into equal halves you can perform this same operation on 3D objects and spaces.
The 2-point perspective cube below demonstrates this. See how the light gray “x” on each side was used to locate the “perspective middle” of each side.
Once the perspective middle has been located you can then connect the center of the “x” to the appropriate vanishing point!
You can divide up a perspective plane or object into multiple sections that account for the diminishing size due to perspective.
Take a look at the series of images below to see how its done!
In the final drawing above notice how each section gets smaller as it visually recedes away from us. This is a core feature in any properly drawn perspective drawing.
Rather than guess at each diminishing section, you can let the previous technique of dividing up perspective space do the work for you!
Let’s look at an animation of the process in action….
Wedges & Pyramids
Not everything is a perfect box. Sooner or later you’ll have to draw something that is a wedge-shape or a pyramid form.
Keep your cool, this is quite easy provided we start with a box first. From the basic perspective box we’ll remove the sections needed to arrive at a wedge and a pyramid!
Check out the drawing steps below to see how this is done for a pair of pyramids:
In the drawing demonstration above, notice how we are locating the perspective middle of each box. Then we can easily construct the pyramid.
How can we can create wedge-shaped objects like the following?
How did you do?
Here is the solution to the wedge drawing challenge:
Notice how in the solution we, once again, utilized boxes first!
Circles and Cylinders
How do we draw circles and cylinders in proper perspective?
The answer can get a bit technical but check out the following illustration which shows the geometry of mapping a circle onto a perspective plane:
The top section of the illustration above shows how a circle can be scribed inside of a square. That square can then be divided up into sections with a ruler. This is done flat with no perspective.
What’s cool about perspective drawing is that what is drawn flat / without perspective can also be accomplished in perspective. That’s what the bottom half of the illustration is showing!
Notice the 8 “touch points” from which to construct the circle in proper perspective. Note where the red and green lines intersect. The blue arrow is pointing out one of these intersections. Those red/green line intersections shown above give you 4 touch points. The other 4 touch points are on the perimeter of the square and shown as gray lines above.
Together, these 8 touch points give you some guidance and clarity as to how to construct the elliptical-esque shape.
Why elliptical-esque? Technically the ellipses drawn above are not true ellipses. They are modified to compensate for the effects of perspective: the back half of the ellipse is smaller than the front half.
This is why I constructed all of these complex intersecting lines and didn’t just draw a pair of simple ellipses!
Well there you have it, that’s the proper solution for drawing circles in a one-point perspective drawing.
I left out the two remaining vertical lines to turn this into a cylinder.
- Can you determine where to draw the remaining two lines?
- How could you accomplish this in two-point perspective?
Want to really test your ability to draw objects in three dimensions? See if you can find solutions to the following perspective drawing practice exercises.
- Draw a table in proper 1pt. perspective. Next, place a vase of flowers precisely in the center of the table.
- If a window is at the end of a room and has four panes of glass separated by 2 crossbars how could you draw this in both 1pt. And 2pt. Perspective methods. Hint: 2pt. will be more of a corner view.
- Draw a row of fence posts as they recede from our vision.
- Make a drawing of a brick walkway. The bricks should get smaller as they recede from our vision.
- Draw a picture of a train with various cars.
Thank you so much for your help! Your instructions are nicely sequential and detailed! I have struggled with some of these issues for quite some time and you made things so easy to understand!
Wonderful, thanks Barbara!
I am trying to finish a fantasy cityscape and want to put a circle or spiral circle on the angled side of the building.
I’m not sure one would call it ecliptical or what. For instance if a round clock was facing straight on as usual but one wanted more of a “side “ view how do you get there correctly perspective wise?
Anything circular becomes a modified ellipse. A good way to calculate things is to put the shape in simpler shapes like rectangles and use known intersections and key points such as with connecting corners, etc. Do this flat with no perspective first.
Then you can recreate the flat drawing in perspective starting with the basic shapes, known intersections and key points, only this time in perspective.
Go to section on circles and cylinders above. It’s drawn in one-point-perspective, but once you understand it the technique can be applied to two-point and three-point perspective as well.
Hi, thank you for the exercises for learning perspective. On the exercise where you show a rectangular cube you show how to dissect it into decreasing portions using perspective. I,m baffled how you selected where the first vertical line should be to start the process ? . The good animation shows it there not how it got there.I would appreciate if you could clarify this please. Regards Lyndon.
Good question Lyndon. For this drawing I simply guessed. You get to pick what your first spacing should be (by eye) then follow the procedure to see what the next few spaces are going to look like. If things are to your liking, continue…if not go back, adjust the distance between the first two lines and try again. You can also play with the “center” line too until you get the results you like. Naturally when you carry out the procedure all the way to the back side of the box you might have to then adjust those lines (the back of the box) slightly as well. There’s many ways to divide up space in a perspective drawing. This is one way. You can also utilize a perspective grid which gives you greater control over the number of subdivisions I have some simple gridding demonstrations somewhere here on this site.
Thanks John. That’s very clear , put it where you feel its needed and no great math technique
To confuse things. Thank you for your reply, much appreciated. Regards Lyndon
These exercises have been tremendously helpful! I have been practicing all sorts but I was wondering, when drawing circles/cylinders how did you determine where the red guide lines would go? Is there an approximate distance or means of dividing the shape that determines where those red guide lines fall? Or is it just by eye
Sydney, the red guidelines are determined by the intersection between the circle and the “X”. Notice how those red guidelines are connected from those intersections to the vanishing point. This can be done both in the non-perspective view and the perspective view. There are a few blue arrows indicating the intersections throughout.