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Learn the Types of Perspective in Drawing

Perspective is indeed everything, this is true in life and especially in drawing because since the various techniques used in perspective drawings were created and perfected, the artist has been able to create or draw objects in such a way that they give the viewer the illusion of reality. If you have ever looked at a still life painting of a box-like object or an architectural drawing and wondered how the creator of the drawing or painting was able to deliver the illusion of depth on a 2 dimensional surface like a paper or a canvas, the fact is they had simply used a type of linear perspective to depict a 3-dimensional object.

Linear perspective drawing is a technique by which three-dimensional images are rendered onto a two-dimensional flat surface, thereby depicting an illusion of depth of space on the flat surface. Perspective is an important aspect of art appreciation, especially when it comes to still life or architectural or landscape sketches and this is why if you are taking an art class now or have ever been in one, you would have heard this term a handful of times. 

There various types of linear perspective in drawing but before we delve into discussing what they are and how they are used, let’s first take a look at some basic terms that will need to know, that will assist you to have a better understanding as we move forward in this discussion.

Vanishing Point

In perspective drawing, the vanishing point is a point on the image plane where the parallel lines coming out from the object in the sketch appear to converge in the 3D space. In other words, this is a point where all parallel lines of the image’s perspective seem to meet and ultimately diminish at,

Horizon Line

Horizon line is the physical or visual boundary between the earth and the sky, that is to say where the sky meets with the land or water. The horizon line represents the height of the viewer’s eye when looking at an object, interior scene, or exterior scene, anything below the horizon lone is under the viewer’s eye level while anything above the horizon line is above eye level.

Orthogonal Line

These are perpendicular lines drawn from the corners of an object to the vanishing point, with the aid of these lines the artist can project the illusion of distance on a 2-dimensional surface.

Although there are mainly 3 types of linear perspective, in this post we shall be discussing 7 types so as to assist you not only learn about them but learn how and when to use them, so as to draw better and more impressive sketches.

7 Types of Linear Perspective

1. One Point Perspective

One point perspective is a form of linear perspective drawing that has a single vanishing point at the horizon line that the artist uses to project an illusion of depth. In a one-point perspective, the lines coming from the object also known as receding lines seem to converge and vanish towards a single vanishing point, in less technical terms it used to show how objects get smaller as they get farther. Although the one-point perspective is simple to use, it is important to master because it will assist you to understand what linear perspective drawing is all about and will assist you to learn the basics before moving on to other types.

How To Draw One Point Perspective

It is used to draw geometric objects facing the viewer, it is also used to visually illustrate the interior of a building like a hallway or a corridor, train tracks, roads, and even a block of buildings lining a street. To use one-point perspective to draw a geometric object like a building, you can start by;

-Drawing the closet side of the building which can be represented by drawing a rectangle and then connect its corners to a single vanishing point. But even before doing this, always draw a horizontal line (horizon line) on the paper to represent the eye level and then place a vanishing point on this horizontal line. 

-Then draw diagonal lines projecting backward from the four corners of the rectangle, this line must converge at the vanishing point placed on the horizon line.

-After this step, you can then draw a smaller rectangle behind the previously drawn shape that touches each diagonal line that is projected towards the vanishing point.

-You can now erase the lines that aren’t needed and highlight the lines left to reveal the three-dimensional object.

Note that the one-point perspective is used to sketch a geometric shape or object which most of it can be viewed as flat in the scene.

2. Two Point Perspective

Although a two-point perspective drawing is a bit more complicated than a one-point perspective, it is more exciting and is used to produce a more realistic, 3-dimensional sketch of a geometric shape. The main difference between the two-point and one-point perspective is that in a two-point perspective there are two vanishing points on the horizon line. Another difference is that it is best used to sketch geometric objects like a building that is viewed from any of its corners as opposed to being viewed as flat. The two vanishing points on the horizon line in two-point perspective are located on opposite points on the line, VP1 is located at the far right while VP2 will be located on the far left on the horizon line. The two-point perspective is also known as an angular perspective.

How To Draw Two Point Perspective

With two-point perspective sketch, there is a broader view of the center of the object that the observer is viewing head ono, but the corners of the object seem to recede on the left and the right as the parallel lines vanish toward the VP1 and VP2 on the opposite sides of the horizon line and the objects get farther from the view of the observer. When drawing a building using two-point perspective, you start by;

-Placing two vanishing points on the horizon line and ensuring that they are far apart from each other.

-Then draw a line in between the two vanishing points that could cut across the horizon line

-The next step will be to project orthogonal lines (receding lines) that are projected from each end of the vertical line towards the vanishing points on the right and left.

-Next, parallel vertical lines are drawn touching the orthogonal line to indicate where the corners of the building end. The closer the vertical lines on each side of the original line are to the vanishing points, the longer the geometric object looks, in this case, the longer the length of the building seems.

-Erase the lines that are no more necessary and voila! you have a 3D geometrical object.

It is important to know that by drawing the line below the horizon line, the observer would have a view of the top of the object, but when the line is drawn above the horizon line, the observer will have a view of the bottom of the object being viewed. Architects use two-point perspective to produce a sketch of the corner view of a block of buildings.

3. Three-Point Perspective

In three-point perspective drawing, the sketch gives the view of an observer that is viewing a geometric object from an aerial view or a bird’s eye view or viewing it from a ground view looking up or an ant view otherwise known as a worm’s eye view. This a pretty cool technique considering the realistic nature of the sketch, which gives them the illusion like they are viewing a 3D geometric object on a 2D surface from an aerial view or form below the object. Speaking more technically, when the observer’s line of sight is below the horizon line the sketch gives the illusion of a worm’s eye view but when it is viewed above the horizon line it illustrates a bird’s eye view. 

Just as you probably already figured out, the difference between a two-point perspective sketch and a three-point perspective sketch is that in a three-point perspective there are three vanishing points while there are two vanishing points in two-point perspective drawings. Although it sounds even more complicated at this point, creating a three-point perspective sketch will simply require you to add a third vanishing point above or below the horizon line to give the illusion of height.

How To Draw Three-Point Perspective

Just like with the other types of linear perspectives ensure that you start by;

–  Draw the horizon line and place the two vanishing points (well-spaced) on the horizon line.

Quick Tip: Before moving on to the next step you must know on what part of your paper to draw the horizon line. If you want to create a worm’s eye view by placing the object below the horizon, then you will need to draw the horizon line close to the top part of your 2D surface (paper or canvas). Do the opposite when you intend to create a bird’s eye view by placing the object above the horizon line.

-The next step will require you to draw two diagonal lines from VP1 and VP2 and ensure that each set of lines intersect above the horizon line.

-Then, place the third vanishing point above the intersecting lines at 90° the horizon line and in between VP1 and VP2. Another good tip would be to place the third vanishing point at a distance from the intersecting lines to give the illusion of more height and avoid distortions.

-Next, project three lines from the third vanish point to intersect the lines that intersected in the previous step, passing through the points where they intersect.

If you are drawing a building, you can now highlight the lines to reveal the form and erase the lines you do not need.

4. Four Point Perspective

As previously stated the main types of linear perspective used in drawing one, two, and three-point perspectives. There are types of perspective that are used to create more exciting, three-dimensional sketches on 2D surfaces, and though they seem more complicated to pull off, as you try them out and master them, you will be able to create a different perspective of 3D geometric objects that are more amazing. With four-point perspective sketches, architects can render a 360° view of buildings. This type of linear perspective drawing is actually a curvilinear version of a two-point perspective that gives the viewer the illusion that they have bird’s eye view as well as a worm’s eye view of the building at the same time.

How To Draw Four Point Perspective

To project this type of linear perspective on a 2D surface you will start by;

-First drawing the horizon line and placing Vanishing points 1 and 2 on the line

-Then placing two other vanishing points above and below the horizon line, ensuring that they are spaced equally

-Next is to draw receding lines connecting the four vanishing points (done right it will form the shape of a diamond.

-After which you will project a vertical line cutting across the horizon line, connecting VP3 and 4

-Then project several equal curved lines connecting VP3 and VP4, which can be highlighted to illustrate the height of the geometric object, while the receding line can be highlighted to produce the corners of the object to reveal its complete form.

A four-point perspective is used to illustrate a 360° panoramic view of geometric objects like buildings or landscapes from an elevated vantage point. Although they are rarely used by artists in their artworks or even by architects, they are amazing to look at and visually exciting for the viewer.

5. Five Point Perspective

This system of perspective drawing utilizes a five-point grid system to give the illusion of a 180 degree of visual space or a hemisphere in front of the subject on a paper or any 2D surface. Quite hard to wrap your head around huh? Well, to break it down a bit, a five-point perspective is like a group of 5 one-point perspective linear drawings. With five-point perspective drawing there are of course five vanishing points used in the drawing to illustrate a 180° view of visual space. The question though is where these 5 vanishing points are located on the image plane? 

Well, just like in four-point perspective, there two vanishing points on the horizon line on the opposite sides of the line, one vanishing point above the horizon line and one below, the only difference is the fifth vanishing point is also on the horizon line but at the middle of the line. Using these five points, the artist is able to create a circle on the 2D surface which will contain the entire visual field in front of the observer which could be the interior of a room or even a landscape like an entire city. When looking at a drawing five-point perspective the lines of the sketched objects are distorted, thereby given the illusion of a fish-eye lens effect of the objects within the visual field.

6. Six Point Perspective

So, a five-point perspective as discussed above gives a 180° perspective of the visual field in front of the observer which seems like a pretty amazing feat to achieve on paper or canvas right? The 6-point perspective though gives could be used to achieve an even more spectacular illustration, that includes the visual field or the view behind the observer. With the aid of a six-point perspective, the observer can have a 360° of the visual field not just in front of them but the view all around them. This illustration is achieved by producing a sixth vanishing point, which is opposite the fifth vanishing point. But to achieve this, another illustration will be drawn on another paper and put together.

Also, just as five-point perspective is a group of five one-point perspectives linear drawing, 6-point perspective brings together 2 five-point perspective drawings to produce a 360 view of the visual field. The first five-point perspective gives a 180° of the visual field in front of the observer and the other covers another 180° perspective of the visual field behind the observer.

7. Zero Point Perspective

In this next type of perspective, we will simply make the point perspective disappear because just like the name suggests, a zero-point perspective has no parallel lines converging at the vanishing points. Although this type of perspective still gives the illusion of depth and illustrates how objects or shapes become smaller as they get farther from the observer, zero-perspective is used where no parallel lines are meeting at a distant point. This type of perspective is used in artworks depicting landscapes, and objects at various depths on the 2D surface. It is used to illustrate nonlinear scenes.

These are the various types of perspective and we hope that you have found this post educative and that it will assist you to draw more amazing and professional-looking sketches as you continue on your journey to becoming a maestro.

Author: Toni Justamante Jacobs. Professional Concept Artist and Illustrator.

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