Learn to Draw - 1 and 2 point perspective




1 and 2 Point Perspective

In the previous bottle cap exercise you drew a bottle cap from three different angles in perspective. On the top and bottom views of the cap you could see that the caps you drew had height, width and depth. But it was a little hard to see the caps in perspective - that the front part was closer to your eye than the back part. That's because it's a pretty small, cylindrical object, it doesn't have much depth. Now lets talk about objects were you can see the depth - like rectangles where the long end recedes away from your eye. How would you draw that?

Train Tracks

one point perspective on a toy car

Drawing 1 point perspective

ONE POINT PERSPECTIVE exists when the subject of the drawing is directly facing the picture plane. If you stand on railroad tracks and look down them and they vanish at the horizon - that's one point perspective. Or stand next to a long chain link fence and see it go off into the distance - you can mentally follow it until it vanishes into the horizon. Using one point perspective we can draw three dimensional looking boxes. And like the bottle cap drawings we can depict the front, top view and bottom view of a box.

First, using a ruler, draw the horizon line on a new sheet of paper. Mark the vanishing point in the middle of the horizon line.
Next, with the ruler draw 4 lines radiating downward out from the bottom of the vanishing point. Make it look like a triangle within a triangle (but don't draw the horizontal bottom of the triangles).
Draw a square with the corners of the square at the 4 lines you drew. The top two square corners will intersect with the outer triangle, and the bottom two square corners will intersect with the inner triangle. (see the image at right)
Now draw the back of the box by drawing another horizontal line above the top of the square. This line will go to the edges of the outer triangle. Connect the line for the back of the box to the square by darkening the lines of the outer triangle.
If you now erase the triangle lines you drew, you'll see that you now have a three dimensional box where you can see the top and the front face. You'll see that your box appears to have real depth, more so than the bottle cap drawings. This is because the vanishing point appears to be almost right behind the box. Although this box looks three dimensional, you can only see two sides of the box - the top and front. In order to see three sides of a box we'll have to use TWO point perspective.

A fork in the road

1 point perspective

2 point perspective

Draw a box in two point perspective

TWO POINT PERSPECTIVE: Now you want to show the corner of a box instead of it's front - That will need two point perspective. Two point perspective has 2 vanishing points on the horizon line. And you'd draw lines radiating out from both vanishing points. In real life, if you see a fork in the road, the left fork would disappear into the horizon at one vanishing point, and the right fork would disappear at the other vanishing point. In drawing, two point perspective is used to depict three faces of an object, one point perspective will only yield two faces of an object.

If you look at the two images of a toy car on the right - the first is shown in one point perspective, and the second is shown in two point perspective. You'll notice that in the first you only see the front and top of the car. In the second two point perspective image, you'll notice that you can see the top, front and side of the same car. These two images also show that you can depict the same object in either one or two point perspective.

Let's draw a simple box in two point perspective (the toy car is too complicated to draw right now).
First draw the horizon line horizontally across your paper. Draw it a little lower than the middle of the paper.
Next draw two vanishing points on the horizon line. If you put them far apart, the box will be closer to the horizon line and the angles won't be very extreme. If you put the points close together, you'll get extreme angles.
Now draw the vanishing lines. Draw lines radiating out and up above the horizon line from both points. Draw three lines out from each point. Make a V shape first, then to get the third line cut the V in half down the middle. Draw the vanishing lines long enough so all the lines intersect each other. So when you're done drawing the vanishing lines you should have six of them - three from each vanishing point.
Now we'll draw what will be the corner of the box by drawing a horizontal line at the point where the top two lines intersect. Start the line there and draw it straight down to the next intersecting vanishing lines.
Then we'll draw the other two back edges of the box. The back edges will start below the first horizontal line you drew at the two intersecting vanishing lines. Draw the two lines straight up until you come to the above vanishing line.
Now to fill in the box by connecting the three vertical lines. You'll draw lines that connect the tops and bottoms of the vertical lines by drawing along the vanishing lines. The very back edge of the box will be connected to the rest of the box by drawing lines along the two innermost vanishing lines at the bottom.
The last step is to erase the parts of the vanishing lines that aren't used.
You can color the resulting box if you'd like. Since we're looking at the bottom of this box, you should color the bottom plane of the box the darkest. This will signal to your brain that the light source in the drawing is coming from the top. In daylight, since the sun is always above us, your brain is used to having shadows being below objects, so to make your box look most "normal", put the shadow on the bottom.

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