Perspective drawing

Perspective drawing is a way to simulate the 3D appearance of an object in a 2D drawing. In other words perspective drawing is a technique for distorting the dimensions in a sketch to give the illusion of three dimensions. Unlike standard isometric or oblique projects, perspective drawings also simulate depth or distance. Perspective drawings are therefore not an effective way of communicating measurements or scale, but they do give an overall impression of how the design might look in three dimensions.

Modern perspective was developed in the 15th Century by Brunelleschi and Alberti.

Perspective drawings are categorized according to the number of points they project back to. These are called the vanishing points. The most common categories are one, two and three point perspective, but more complicated systems are used mainly to create special effects.

Single point perspective

In this the perspective is drawn form one point in the distance. This is called the vanishing point.

This is how linear perspective works

Two point perspective

In this case there are two vanishing points

Three point perspective

This is useful if the view is looking up at something, and can create a lofty effect.

How to draw perspective

By drawing a scene with a road and a house this video shows how to draw in one and two point perspective. Try to replicate this drawing to get a feel for how to use perspective in a drawing. It is not about skill, it is more baout coconstruction of the perspective lines.

MC Escher

Escher was a master of perspective, and often used perspective to great effect. In this drawing he uses three point perspective and one of the vanishing points is above and behind the viewer so we appear to be looking down on the building. Note the men climbing the stairs. By subtly distorting the perspective for the stairs Escher gives the illusion that the men are constantly climbing.

In this drawing Escher has used a standard 2 point perspective for the buildings, but switches to a 4 point curvilinear perspective to show the balcony. Note the 4 vanishing points above and below and to each side of the balcony. the lines radiating from these vanishing points are curved rather than straight. This makes the balcony appear as if it is viewed through a magnifying glass or crystal ball.


Perspective is a powerfull tool to create realism in 2D drawings, but also to surprise, add drama and special effects. A mastery of perspective is a powerful tool in the hands of a designer.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License