I’ve had a lot of students go through my drawing classes; some fly through the perspective lessons, and some get stuck. I’m always trying to figure out how to make it simpler for everyone…..and today is another attempt at that! Grab yourself a block (or a square or rectangular object) that you can look at in front of you while I talk.
Tutorial: Making Perspective Drawing Easier
We all learn differently; some DO like drawing all the perspective lines, and that’s awesome! But if you’re like me, there’s little patience for rulers. So I’ve learned to get the perspective lines to point to the same place, and not stress out over whether it hits the horizon line, etc….making it look right to my gut is close enough for me. But it requires being HONEST – not just shrugging because I’m tired of working on the perspective. LOL.
Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!
Don’t start with crazy perspective projects – begin with a simple object. Face the front toward you first so you see JUST the front with the horizontals horizontal and the verticals vertical. Then tilt it just a little so you see a little of the top and a little of the side. Below are two ways to create incorrect perspective and one that works…read on!
First, I find that trying to use a single line leads me to create incorrect perspective every time. Try softer, sketchier lines.
Second I tried my high school art teacher’s “trick” which never really worked too well; I always had the feeling something was “off” and it took me a while to realize that if I didn’t draw each box PERFECTLY then the angled lines would be off. And even IF drawn exactly, this method makes all the angled lines exactly the same, which doesn’t create realistic perspective.
Now I have a different approach – and it involves no rulers!
- Draw the front panel nice and square. Horizontals horizontal, verticals vertical.
- Choose one angled corner and look at the angle in the real-life object or photo. Make that line long, pointing off the page to an invisible point. It’s not vital to know where that spot is.
- On a second corner point, look at its angle, too — draw a long light line that points to the same place off in the distance…don’t get in the habit of trusting yourself to just make up where the line goes until you get very practiced. Use your eyes, but also make sure that line will point in the correct direction.
- The third point will be easier; look at the real object, and also double check that its line will point the right way.
- Draw the actual box lines darker, and join the vertical edge and horizontal edge of the back of the block. Erase the long lines if needed.
Two point perspective
Two points of perspective is something we are quite accustomed to seeing. When the block is turned so there is no front panel with horizontal and verticals that remain straight, you end up with some perspective points going off to the left and some off to the right. (If you drew the simple box above, you DID create two point perspective; just one of the two is horizontal.)
It can look confusing to have all those lines – but it’s the very same process. Choose one corner and assess the angle, and draw the line, then check the 2nd angle, make it point the right direction, and then the third. Same on the other side.
The second sketch here has a LOW HORIZON. I included this so you know that not all perspective lines will point “upward.” If you stand on a city corner and look left and right, you’ll notice the street and bottom edges of buildings point upward a little or a lot, and the tops of buildings point downward. This doesn’t mean its incorrect – it’s just a different horizon line. Don’t stress out over finding perspectives that don’t fit the model of the first example; nature/science/math is correct, and it just means you have a lot more to discover about perspective.
Carry through perspective across the drawing
When you start adding elements to your drawing, they all need to start working with each other in perspective. In the Mojo Cart painting, I had to work out the initial cabinet perspective for the big rectangle, then match up the signage and drawers.
While a very loose sketch, you can see how the open drawer needs to follow perspective like the big block itself. As do the other drawers and signs….
Three point perspective drawing
Then comes the crazy overhead fruit cart! I’m including an extra sketch here for you that shows more simply the relationship between the cabinet of the cart and other elements.
Then the charcoal drawing – I had to initially work out the underpinning perspective. It’s a view from above the cart, and that means the verticals are not vertical – they point to a vanishing point way down below the drawing. But the others are left and right as we’ve already talked about.
To make the wheel, I drew a rectangle in perspective – as if it were a posterboard leaned against the cart – then drew an oval in the orientation of that rectangle.
Which brings us to the final sketch! Lots of deep shadows and bright highlights – I can’t wait to get painting this weekend!
Got questions about perspective?
I’d love to do more perspective lessons on specific challenges – if you’ve got a suggestion, let me know!