To Master 3-D Drawing, You've Gotta Understand One-Point Perspective

Perspective is a drawing technique that shows objects in all their 3-D glory even on a flat piece of paper or canvas. The trick: using lines that recede to express a sense of distance .

Artists and architects use three different types of perspective to convey depth and space in their work. Here we're going to focus on one-point perspective — the kind you need to sketch a room, building or road straight-on.

Drawing in one-point perspective seems complicated if you’ve never done it before. But if you know the rules, it's a snap. You just need to know your terminology and where to place your lines. Let's run through all that.

Terms to know

Horizon line (HL)

This is the horizontal line that marks the horizon as well as the viewer’s eye level. You can place the HL anywhere on the page.

Vanishing point (VP)

This is the dot on the horizon line where all the parallel lines appear to meet.

Orthogonal lines

These diagonal lines, which are often imaginary, connect the vanishing point to other points in your drawing. They can keep you grounded when creating your perspective drawing. 

Confused yet? Don’t worry, this will all make sense as soon as you start drawing!

How to draw a room

1. Make the horizon line

Draw your horizon line close to middle of the page. Don’t establish a VP just yet.

Next, draw the back wall of your room, using only horizontal and vertical lines. It can be square or rectangular, but keep it small so you'll have room on the page to add side walls, a floor and a ceiling later. Make sure at least part of the back wall overlaps the HL.

Add some elements to anchor your drawing. A door and a window would be perfect.

2. Figure out your vanishing point

Add the vanishing point anywhere inside the room along the horizon line. The VP represents the point of view of the onlooker.

3. Sketch orthogonal lines

From the VP, draw two orthogonal lines that stretch out, making sure they go through the corners of the room. The lines won't form a perfect X — that's okay.

4. Draw walls

At any point along one of the orthogonals, draw a new box. Use only vertical and horizontal lines that intersect at each orthogonal line.

Congrats! You’ve created an empty room using one-point perspective! Now erase the horizon line inside the room, but leave the vanishing point for now.

5. Start a chair

Time to decorate! Start with a simple wooden chair. Draw the front part first, then add eight orthogonal lines, two lines originating from each point on the chair back to the vanishing point.

6. Finish the seat

Set the depth of your chair by choosing a point fairly close to the original lines of the chair but still working inside the orthogonal lines.

Work your way around all the orthogonal lines, making sure each line is parallel to the corresponding line on the front part of the chair. You've now drawn the back of your chair.

Now add the lines across. You can also use this method to create the depths of the individual legs.

7. Add more furniture

Furnish the room with more things, like a book shelf or chest of drawers. Use the same method as you did for the chair: Sketch the front part, connect orthogonal lines to the vanishing point and add depth.

Then draw a window — it's easy. Sketch a set of vertical lines connected by orthogonals to make a rectangle in one-point perspective on the wall.

When you've finished, erase all the orthogonal lines and VP. Ta-dah! A room in one-point perspective.

Now that you know the basics of one-point perspective, you just need to practice. Pretty soon drawing rooms or roads or buildings will become second nature.

December 12, 2018
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To Master 3-D Drawing, You've Gotta Understand One-Point Perspective