How to Draw With PerspectiveSource: tutsplus.comIn this tutorial, we will look at photographs as well as drawn examples to familiarize ourselves withthe basic principles of perspective and how it can affect your drawings.Step 1Perspective can be used to suggest the illusion of 3D elements on a 2D canvas. When perspective is‘off’ in a drawing, even untrained eyes will notice. Using basic perspective techniques will allow youto manipulate your compositions to your favour; even giving fictional drawings a sense of realism.Let’s make a New (Cmd+N) canvas and get started. I’ve drawn a figure to spice up the canvas a little.Step 2We’ll begin with a ‘one-point’ perspective. A drawing anywhere on Earth would likely have a‘horizon line’ in it, whether it is off the canvas or not. In the example below we’ve got a very standardhorizon line near the center of the image. In addition to a horizon line, we need a ‘vanishing point’.When drawing one-point perspective, we have one vanishing point where all the z-axis lines join up,shown in the example below as ‘VP’, with the horizon line illustrated as ‘HL’. All lines going in thesame direction (parallel) would follow the line angles converging towards the vanishing point.
Step 3If we were to draw a box and prism, the x-axis and y-axis would be drawn as normal (black squares inthe example), but lines going along the z-axis would follow the perspective lines angled towards thevanishing point.Step 4Changing the horizon line can give our composition some more ground space to view and may bemore effective in situations where we would depict land masses or communicate designs from a moretop-revealing angle. The vanishing point stays in the same x-axis position on the horizon line, movingupwards with it as shown in the example.
Step 5If we try moving the horizon line down, it can present an opportunity for portraying tall details such asskies, birds, skyscrapers, aircraft, or just about anything else you can imagine. This will give thecomposition less focus on the ground and a more human point of view should the horizon line be ateye-level such as street or roadside drawing.Step 6Can you guess where the horizon line and vanishing point is?
Step 7Sorry, that was a waste of a step. Even without the forms though, we can see where the lineseventually converge to – the vanishing point. We can’t establish the horizon line very well fromlooking at the piece, but as you can see, it gives us a more top-down view.
Step 8You may have noticed, that the further from the vanishing point we go (in this case, lower down), themore top-down the view becomes, seemingly flattening the shape faces slightly.Step 9If we take it a step further to the point where the lines appear to barely even converge towards avanishing point, it may appear almost completely top-down like a building plan. Generally youprobably won’t come to draw with this view as often as the previous ones but knowing how the top-down effect kicks in can really help when exploring your own views in your perspective-drivendesigns.
Step 10You might be wondering how I’m drawing these lines. We’ll draw a two-point perspective now just tosee how! We learned earlier that one-point perspective is one vanishing point; therefore we’ll draw asecond vanishing point here to make this a two-point perspective.We’ll start to draw the second vanishing point now. As with the first vanishing point, this will be on aNew Layer (Cmd+Shift+N) to let us manipulate the rest of the image. I’ve started with a normal hardcircle brush at 4px, holding Shift before painting the line (red) to snap it to a common angle – in thiscase directly downwards.
Step 11I want to spike out some lines but as a right hander I’m not very good at drawing from top left tobottom right or vice versa. Therefore to speed things up, the canvas is flipped by choosing Image >Rotate Canvas > Flip Canvas Horizontal. You may have noticed that it’s bound to the hotkey F1 in myexample, which would be by default assigned to an external Photoshop Help link. You can assignhotkeys this one by choosing Window > Workspace > Keyboard Shortcuts & Menus and clicking theKeyboard Shortcuts tab.Step 12Wow that’s not a straight line. It’s OK if it something goes wrong, it’s just us practicing twice as muchas everybody else. If it does turn out like a curve graph from a science experiment, just undo it(Cmd+Z) and try again. The other vanishing point is on a new layer, which gives us the option to hideit while we work on this second vanishing point.
Step 13Eleventh time’s always a charm.Step 14If at first you don’t succeed, use the Free Transform Tool (Cmd+T).You may rotate the line by Left-clicking the mouse when the cursor changes upon hovering justoutside a corner of the Free Transform bounding box.
Step 15Finish some more lines until you are comfortable with it. We’ll flip the canvas back by clicking Image> Rotate Canvas > Flip Canvas Horizontally. I’ve also lowered the opacity of the two vanishing pointlayers to make it easier to see what we’re about to do.Step 16The lines going into the distance (red) go towards the first vanishing point as with the one-pointperspective drawing (step 3).
Step 17Look at the dotted red lines in the example; we can see where the corners of the next face would be(circled). Here’s where your psychic projection powers come in – some imagination here helps topicture where the lines and face would go. If it looks correct in your head, you’re probably on the righttrack.
Step 18If we proceed to draw the parallel lines (red) going towards the second vanishing point (VP2), we’vegot a perfect join to the previously circled corners – the two ends of the previous dotted line.Step 19This technique works even on complicated symmetrical shapes, provided there are parallel lines. If welook at the example below-from the initial corner circled in red-we can simply follow it along the firstperspective lines (black) until it hits the other vanishing point (labeled "collide" in example), fromwhich it will then follow the second vanishing point’s perspective lines (red) back down, stopping atthe point where it is horizontally parallel alongside the horizon (pink). I made it sound much morecomplicated than it is, check out the image.
Step 20Doing this for all the points gives us perfect locations for each corner.Step 21Complete the dot-to-dot process but notice that the verticals (pink) still angle perfectly upwards,everything facing the sky in two-point perspective is a vertically straight line, anywhere on the page(as long as it was built to face upwards like a traditional building or cabinet edge).
Step 22If we add any more lines along the x-axis or z-axis, they must follow to the appropriate vanishingpoints, as shown in the example.
Step 23Often when putting both vanishing points in the same canvas, it creates a very tight view like in theexample below.
Step 24To counter this, it is a good idea to throw one of our vanishing points much further down the line sothe perspective isn’t as strong and we can see the object in a very different way. Since we can’t see thevanishing point, it’s harder to draw correctly. An efficient way to draw a set of lines here are to simplydraw a set of horizontal lines first to manipulate. Remember to hold Shift when brushing to snap yourinitial direction until you finish the stroke.
Step 25Then, using Free Transform (Cmd+T) and Left-Clicking the corners, distort the lines as you see fit.Important: At least one horizontal line (red) must align with the horizon line (green) otherwise theperspective won’t work.
Step 26Now we’ll draw a similar shape, except without the wide-angle lens effect that closer vanishing pointsbring. Pushing our vanishing points further out like this replicates how our eyes perceive images muchmore realistically. Remember that the z-axis lines (red) go towards one vanishing point and the x-axislines (blue) go towards the other – in this case, the imaginary vanishing point off the canvas.Step 27Very nice. This low horizon line could reinforce a low point of view such as buildings being seen fromhuman eye-height.
Step 28Let’s try raising the horizon line to see how that affects our composition.Step 29The lengths of the verticals practically stay the same in the example but the locations of the verticallines change slightly to conform to the perspective lines.Step 30Again, the z-axis and x-axis follow the conventions of pointing towards their vanishing points.
Step 31This high horizon line strengthens the illusion of looking down at the object and could be effective indisplaying a view from a high point such as a hotel balcony.Step 32Now let’s try a three-point perspective. This will be exactly the same as two-point perspective with anadditional vanishing point that isn’t on the horizon line. We’ll start off with a standard box in two-point perspective.
Step 33Using the same technique as Step 24, create some lines that suggest a very high vanishing point suchas in the example below.
Step 34This new vanishing point represents the angles that verticals in our drawing follow.If there were multiple grounded boxes in a three-point perspective drawing, there can be a new set ofx-axis and z-axis vanishing points for each differently rotated box. However, notice that the verticalswill always without fail, follow the same vertical vanishing point provided they are facing upwards thesame in real life. This will apply when you’re drawing standard buildings, walls, cupboards, etc.
Step 35We can simply erase the vertical lines and re-draw them from the bottom to follow the direction of thethird vanishing point in the sky. With three-point perspectives, there are excellent senses of scale aswith real life where distant objects decrease in scale.Step 36As you can see, raising the horizon line is very effective with a low third vanishing point, creating aslight vertigo sensation to the composition. You could imagine taking this a step further by pulling thevanishing point closer to the horizon line, giving it a more extreme perspective. Using it in moderationthough such as in the example below is a very effective way to give your drawing a tasty nuance ofperspective.
Step 37Look, look. Cool, huh? Above all, try it out yourself!Step 38Let’s have a look at how perspective can be spotted in photos. Thankfully in this photo there is agridded floor which makes it easier to spot the x-axis and z-axis lines in the floor. As a standard-looking photograph it likely has a third perspective but it is very hard to spot with few clues toverticals in the scene.Source: Photographer’s portfolio
Step 39In this street shot, the windows of the building to the left (green) gives us an excellent set of lines tomeasure the z-axis (going forwards into the street). The wall to the right (green) also has neat inlets tohelp us see where that same vanishing point would be.Source: Photographer’s portfolio
Step 40The building looks right-angled, so if we assume that the constructers did a fantastic job building itwith a 90-degree angle, the windows to the left (yellow) and other side of the wall to the right (yellow)show us the direction of the x-axis. There is also a very prominent third vanishing point in the sky. Wecan establish this because of all the tall buildings giving away the angles of the verticals in the image.This perspective is similar to the one we tackled in Step 35.
Step 41In this photo, the most obvious vanishing point is probably the one just off the top of the screen. Theroad and long buildings (green) give away this vanishing point easily.Source: Photographer’s portfolio
Step 42The x-axis is a little harder to spot but with help of the parallel trio of larger buildings to the left(yellow), we can see how the vanishing point is very far away to the right, barely showing signs ofconverging. There is also a hint of a third perspective (pink) if we look at the verticals on some of thelarger buildings and the two buildings to the top right of the photograph.
Step 43A lot of the buildings here are non-parallel like the cubes in Step 34, but the sides of the streets (greenand yellow) have their individual angles that give away their z-axis quite easily as highlighted in theexample.
Step 44Notice again that the verticals, however, all follow the same third vanishing point because althoughthey are rotated diversely, they all have verticals facing the same direction.
Step 45Let’s do a simple drawing that incorporates some of the things we’ve learned. Here, lines along the x-axis are shown in red and the y-axis in blue. We haven’t drawn the z-axis lines yet because that’s thedepth; where the shape goes into the distance and we haven’t utilized that vanishing point yet, thoughit can be seen in the example. We’ll do each axis of lines on a New Layer (Cmd+Shift+N orCmd+Shift+N) to give us more working flexibility.Step 46Time to add some depth with lines pointing towards the third vanishing point (green).
Step 47Now to establish a width we’ll draw the rest of the lines (red and blue), where we can then get rid ofthe excessive z-axis (green) lines.Step 48Assuming the green lines are on their own layer, in the Hue/Saturation (Cmd+U or Cmd+U) window,turn the lightness of the layer down to zero and it should turn black.
Step 49Then finally some eye-candy colour behind the line-art.
Step 50Maybe throw in a background, some pretty polishing touches and voila! A super quick perspectivedrawing, fully acceptable in a professional environment. That is, if the company you work for consistsof just you.ConclusionIt is very easy to spot perspectives in parallel structures wherever they are. You can see how basicperspectives can be drawn easily once the foundations are memorized in here (I’m pointing to my headat the moment… Which co-incidentally has an external hard-drive taped to it). People who look atyour drawings have been used to seeing human perspective since they were born, so sloppyperspective will throw them into an unstoppable trance (sometimes). If that doesn’t happen then theywill just notice ‘something off’ about your drawing. So learn these basic-level perspective principlesand practice drawing some buildings. Just make sure that your lines are drawn to the appropriatevanishing points. Start off with some squared chairs and tables!I hope you’ve learned something in this tutorial – feel free to comment any questions or your ownsamples!