Having a firm grasp of perspective is one of the basic fundamentals of drawing. Without a proper and consistent sense of perspective, you will never be able to create authentic and realistic looking drawings.
Perspective is a massive topic that has hundreds of books written on the subject. You could really fall down the rabbit hole and get lost learning perspective, but today we are going to cover the just the basics of one, two, and three point perspective.
One Point Perspective
One point perspective is the simplest form of perspective. As you can see in the example, there is a single point in the center of this image. This is called the vanishing point. The vanishing point is the point that is farthest away from the viewer. In one point perspective, all the objects in the image lean toward this single vanishing point.
For this example, I’ve drawn a couple squares which we will turn into 3D boxes. Looking at my guidelines, you can see that each corner of the square has a line running toward the vanishing point. This gives these boxes a three-dimensional effect—like the boxes are disappearing into the distance.
Two Point Perspective
Two point perspective is used when we are not looking directly at the front of an object. As you can see in this example, instead of the box facing you head on, it is now turned to the side a little bit. To achieve this effect we need to add two points on each side of the horizon line. The horizon line is the viewer’s eye level. To get a better sense of this, look outside and see the line where the ground meets the sky—this is the horizon line that we are trying to mimic in our drawing.
In two point perspective the left sides of our box point toward the left vanishing point, and the right sides of the box point toward the right vanishing point. Take a look at the purple arrows which point toward the correct vanishing point.
Note that since the box in this example is drawn above the horizon line, we can see underneath the box, giving the effect that it is hovering above the ground. The image below is the exact same image, flipped upside down so you can see what a box looks like if we draw it below the horizon line. In this image, it now looks like the box is below us and we can see the top of it.
Three Point Perspective
Three point perspective is very similar to two point, however it produces a more dramatic and realistic effect. In three point perspective, you are using an additional vanishing point that either sits above or below your horizon line. This vanishing point dictates the direction of your vertical lines. Instead of drawing perfectly straight vertical lines like we did in one and two point perspective, the vertical lines are now slightly bent toward this third vanishing point. Take a look at the example showing the arrows to get a better idea of how this third vanishing point works.
Perspective is such a huge topic, and this little article is just barely scratching the surface. If you want to learn some more about drawing perspective, I strongly suggest you pick up the The Art of Perspective: The Ultimate Guide for Artists in Every Medium.
Check out the video below for a little more information on drawing perspective. Sometimes it is a little easier to learn when you have someone showing you in real-time. Happy drawing!