5 Oct

One-point perspective occurs when you are looking at an object (such as a box) straight on from a plane. The object moves back in space. A box with parallel, even lines starts to appear distorted.

With 3-point perspective (above example), you can experience it in a real life situation such as when you are standing close to the corner of a building, looking up.  Along the horizon, there is a vanishing point in the distance to your right and one in the distance to your left.  The third extends upward to the sky.  The further you move back away from that building’s corner, the skyward vanishing point literally… vanishes!  The lines that were converging to that point start to become parallel, and you slip into 2-point perspective (your left and right horizon vanishing points).

Two-point perspective has two vanishing points. In the horse above the vanishing point is on the right and left. The lines are perpendicular and parallel.

When I illustrate cities and buildings, I use two point perspectives to build up the scene.  It also lines up other objects in the scene like a lamp post or how the patrons walk. It anchors the drawing and helps build the composition too.


Giorgione’s The Tempest is atmospheric perspective. Objects in the foreground are clearer and larger. Objects in the background appear to be hazier and further away, despite the two-dimensional canvass.

Raphael’s The School of Athens is one-point perspective. The vanishing point is on the back wall at the center of the painting. The walls, columns, etc. all meet at this vanishing point.


2 Responses to “Perspective”

  1. hartleymmiller October 13, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    I would also like to add that in high school, I thought that I might be interested in pursuing a career in architecture. I was already interested in graphic design (my focus throughout my 5 years of college) but I thought that architecture might be a good second option. I took an architecture class and learned all about perspective. Doing drawing after drawing of JUST lines became a bit too tedious for me. But learning these more technical aspects of art has helped me with my field now. Becoming knowledgeable in perspective is very useful for all art fields.

  2. lmcapoccitti November 11, 2010 at 6:28 pm #

    I love the three-point perspective one. looks a bit like a giant dalek on the left.

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