When we look at the world around us, we notice that as objects move further away, they become smaller. In order to make images on a flat surface appear 3D, or realistic, we must learn how perspective works and how to use it.

The previous lesson covered the simplest form of perspective; one point perspective. We will now take a look at how two point perspective works.

Two point perspective is the most commonly used form of perspective drawing. This is because it is significantly more naturalistic than one point but simpler than three point perspective (and better suited to medium and small scale scenes).

If you are drawing something with the corner of an object pointing towards you, then two point perspective will be required. In most cases a scene will contain some objects that have corners point towards the viewer. As a result, you will often find yourself needing to use this method.

We will use this reference photo of a old warehouse to find out how two point perspective works.

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The Horizon Line

To recap from the previous lesson on perspective; the horizon line is a horizontal line that divides the ground from the sky in an outdoor scene. It is sometimes called the ‘eye level line’ because it’s placement in the image determines where how far from ground level the viewer’s eyes are:

  • If the horizon line is placed near the bottom of the image, it will seem like the viewer is high above the ground and looking down at the horizon.
  • If the horizon line is placed near the centre of the image, it will seem like the viewer is standing at a normal height above ground level.
  • If the horizon line is placed very high in the image, it will seem like the viewer’s eyes are very near to the ground.

The placement of the horizon line is also affected by the angle of the eyes:

  • If the head is tilted up, the horizon line will be low in the image.
  • If the head level, the horizon line will be in the centre of the image.
  • If the head is tilted down, the horizon line will be high in the image.

The best way to understand how the placement of the horizon line will affect the image, is to make lots of sketches, with the line placed in lots of different positions.

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Vanishing Points

In a two point perspective drawing we use two vanishing points (it’s in the name 😉 rather than one. These points are placed at the left and right extremes of the drawing. They are often placed outside the frame of the image to avoid excessive distortion.

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Next, you can draw your upright lines, which will determine the shape of the form you are drawing.

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Converging Lines

Finally, you can connect the ends of the upright lines to each vanishing point, in order to determine the shape of the planes that face away from the viewer.

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Once all of your lines are correct, you can erase anything that won’t be visible in the final image. This includes the converging lines that lie outside of the object, any hidden portion of the horizon line and anything blocked by other objects in the scene (such as the car in the bottom right-hand corner of this image).

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