One point perspective drawing - Cristina Teaching Art (2024)

This article represents Part 2 of a mini-series that teaches you how to draw in perspective. We look into the drawing rules for the first type of perspective known as the One-Point Perspective.

In my previous article, I explained what 3D space means and how to generally capture the illusion of depth. I illustrated the main 3 types of perspective through simple and engaging drawing exercises using just some cubes.

So make sure you check out Part 1, the introduction article which presents the most important concepts and terminology.

What is one-point perspective?

One Point Perspective is the principle of drawing in three dimensions (a system of rules) that allows us to draw a direct frontal angle from a certain point of view in space. It’s actually the easiest type of perspective drawing that creates the illusion of depth. One point perspective is also known as One Vanishing Point Perspective or as Frontal Perspective

Every time you look straight ahead, sitting or standing, looking up or down, in an indoor or outdoor environment … What you see in front of your eyes it’s simply called One Point Perspective.

Who invented one-point perspective?

Before we start the exercises let’s have a quick art history approach. At least for curiosity without going into the details.

In Renaissance, around the year 1420 in Florence, Italy, Filippo Brunelleschi (1387-1446) trained as a goldsmith and clockmaker solved the big problem that was going on for centuries, artists were struggling to create convincing depth in their paintings, everything was flat or skewed since there wasn’t any universal system of perspective drawing.

However, before coming up with the rules of one-point perspective, Brunelleschi was already known as a genius for his creation of the Red Dome of Florence cathedral, the enormous octagonal dome weighed 25,000 tons, and when it was designed it was the largest one in the world. The dome is a masterpiece of architecture and engineering and even today there are many questions on how the ingenious solutions have been achieved.

One point perspective drawing - Cristina Teaching Art (1)

Filippo Brunelleschi is the one responsible for creating and demonstrating the laws of linear perspective, the drawing rules of one-point perspective. He basically revolutionized Renaissance art.

Brunelleschi discovered that when you draw a street or a building, all the straight-ahead horizontal lines seem to convert into a common point in space.

He presented the concept of a unified vanishing point, an imaginary construction point placed on the horizon line. This must have been like magic for the 15th century, to perceive a 3D space onto a flat surface, on a canvas with the most accurate precision.

Check out here a short video demonstrating Brunelleschi’s First Experiments in Perspective.

What are one-point perspective drawing rules?

One-point perspective represents a three-dimensional drawing that creates the illusion of depth as a direct frontal view. All objects appear smaller and closer to each other as they recede into the distance.

So the drawing rules for one-point perspective are:

  1. Eye Level or Horizon Line (HL). The height from which we look straight ahead, sitting, standing or, climbing, represents the Eye Level. We can also look above and below our Eye Level.
  2. Vanishing Point (VP). The drawing is constructed with only one vanishing point placed on the horizon line. The VP represents the imaginary point to which all lines facing the observer (perpendicular to the observer) converge.
  3. Convergence. All edges moving towards the observer (or camera) will converge to the only vanishing point
  4. Parallelism. All horizontal lines will remain horizontal and parallel among them. All vertical lines will remain vertical and parallel with each other.
  5. Diminution. All objects appear smaller as they recede into the distance, getting farther away from the observer.

Exercise 1. Analyze real photo references

The best way to get started with perspective drawing is by looking at real-life photography and breaking down all the rules. Reverse the engineering to a point that is ridiculous simple to you, to the point of your own personal level of understanding.

Use your own reference, take your own photos, indoor or outdoor, objects or full scenery because this way you can be very specific in your study.

One point perspective drawing - Cristina Teaching Art (3)

In my analysis, I specifically choose long and short frontal views but also during nighttime since it gives a better contrast between light and shade planes. This way it’s easier to notice the depth or space between the far away plane and the near one.

Start with the far-away plane, and come closer and closer towards the camera using the vanishing lines. You’ll easily recognize all the drawing rules.

So here’s a step-by-step analysis of a photo reference.

  • Step 1. Depth. Identify the farthest plane you can clearly see.
  • Step 2. Ground Plane. Identify the main convergent lines from each corner point from the distant plane to the nearest plane.
  • Step 3. Vanishing Rays. Identify more convergent lines which clearly seem to lead to a certain point in that faraway plane.
  • Step 4. Horizontal Lines. Identify the horizontal lines, the closer they are to the viewer, the more spread out in space they are.
  • Step 5. Vertical Lines. Identify the vertical lines, the closer they are to the viewer, the more spread out in space they are. Also, the lower the Horizon is the more they converge to a high vertical point.

Exercise 2. Draw objects in one-point perspective. Looking straight ahead, above and below.

What we see in front of our eye is difficult to make it feel real too on paper. Everything seems so complex, right? So you have to fight with that and look for its simplicity, for the way you capture the “illusion” of depth and space.

If you cannot draw large scenes in one-point perspective, draw small objects in a large variety of sizes, shapes, and from different heights.

My 3 recommended exercises are very simple. Practice the 3 different eye levels and just start with individual objects and not full scenery.

  1. Looking straight ahead (at a door).
  2. Looking straight and up (at a balcony).
  3. And Looking straight and down (at sidewalk pavements).

And some general guidelines to follow:

  • Pick some familiar props which have an obvious basic construction based on primitives forms (cylinders, cubes, and spheres).
  • Start with the horizon line, then with the far-away plane or the near-plane, and then (the one which is more obvious to you), build everything around that with vanishing lines.
  • When you finish the construction lines you can then add some subtle sketching details to give some context.

One point perspective drawing - Cristina Teaching Art (11)

One point perspective drawing - Cristina Teaching Art (12)

One point perspective drawing - Cristina Teaching Art (13)


Drawing has always been the method of visual representation, a powerful tool that allows us to capture what we see with an exact precision, just think of an architectural design or any kind of technical blueprint drawings. Architects and engineers are capable of creating drawings with exact mathematical precision.

As artists, we don’t need those mathematical calculations but we need to be able to create a believable illusion of depth and space.

Start where you’re comfortable and then speed up

Stay at a slow speed for a while, like a week or so, practice individual exercises, props, or objects that are familiar to you. Sketch those in perspective until you feel comfortable and then, gradually take it from there, create scenery by adding multiple elements.

Make your drawing style a personal system

Keep your exercise simple and don’t rush the fun of learning the fundamentals. Don’t focus on surface details such as colors, textures, or shading. Only try to get the construction in 3 dimensions with a nice illusion of depth.

Check out the behind-the-scenes of this sketch I made, which in fact implements one-point perspective rules withsketching techniques.

One point perspective drawing - Cristina Teaching Art (14)

One point perspective drawing - Cristina Teaching Art (15)

Related Drawing Articles

  • Practical Guide In Perspective Drawing. Part 1 – Types Of Perspectives
  • Get Started With Sketching In 8 Exercises. Warm-Ups For Eye-Hand Coordination
One point perspective drawing - Cristina Teaching Art (2024)


How does using the 1 point perspective technique help your artwork? ›

One point perspective is a drawing method that shows how things appear to get smaller as they get further away, converging towards a single 'vanishing point' on the horizon line. It is a way of drawing objects upon a flat piece of paper (or other drawing surface) so that they look three-dimensional and realistic.

What famous artwork is in 1 point perspective? ›

This resource features two models of one point perspective: Masaccio's Holy Trinity, painted in 1427 in Florence, and Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, painted in 1495 in Milan. Ruggiero explains how both artists employ linear perspective using receding parallel lines that converge at a vanishing point.

How do you teach a child one-point perspective? ›

Begin with the square or rectangle closest to the vanishing point. Draw tangent lines from the corners of the square to the vanishing point. Because these are solid objects, if you run into a building while drawing, stop. Repeat these steps until all the shapes are in one-point perspective.

What are the five principles of one-point perspective drawing? ›

So, these nine principles of one-point perspective in interior sketching are:
  • All the lines in your drawing are either horizontal, vertical, or recede to the vanishing point.
  • All horizontal lines are parallel to each other.
  • All vertical lines are parallel to each other.
Sep 7, 2021

What are the 3 main characteristics of one point perspective? ›

The basic principles of perspective include an horizon line, a vanishing point and the top point and bottom point where the images' move toward the vanishing point (VP). The image below shows these basics in simple one point perspective .

What are the rules for one point perspective? ›

A rule of thumb in one-point perspective is that straight lines will usually either be vertical, horizontal or recede toward the vanishing point. The vanishing point is a point on the horizon line where lines that are parallel to the viewer's line of sight appear to meet.

What are the benefits of learning perspective drawing? ›

By using perspective drawing, you can better understand how objects relate to each other and to the environment in terms of size, distance, and angle. You can also explore different views and orientations of your design and see how it would look from different perspectives.

Who is a famous artist that has created one-point perspective drawing? ›

Filippo Brunelleschi was the first to explore and develop a one-point perspective system. By showing students various works of art produced during the 1420s, you can demonstrate how many artists tried out his ideas.

What are some examples of one-point perspective in paintings? ›

Examples for one-point perspective in the arts

Café Terrace at Night (1888), Vincent van Gogh, as an example of one-point perspective. One of the most popular examples of one-point perspective in art is van Gogh's Café Terrace at Night.

What is the first rule of one-point perspective? ›

Rules of One Point Perspective

To use one point perspective, only one vanishing point can be used and it must be placed on the horizon line. The vanishing point can be anywhere along the horizon line. This is the point where all perspective lines converge.

How do you explain perspective in art? ›

Introduction. Perspective in art usually refers to the representation of three-dimensional objects or spaces in two dimensional artworks. Artists use perspective techniques to create a realistic impression of depth, 'play with' perspective to present dramatic or disorientating images.

What are the 3 main components of one perspective drawing? ›

It is one of the fundamentals that you need to understand in order to create realistic and believable scenes. There are four parts of a perspective drawing: the horizon line, vanishing point, orthogonal lines, and three dimensional forms.

What three lines are needed to draw one-point perspective? ›

There are three key lines to understand when creating a perspective drawing. As seen in the photos below, these three lines are converging lines, parallel lines, and perpendicular lines. Converging lines are diagonal lines that converge into the vanishing point.

How is one point perspective useful and when is it required? ›

One-point perspective is appropriate when you can have a frontal view of the subject. In fact, the surfaces facing the viewer appear as their true shape, i.e. without any distortion. Also, the viewer can see the vanishing point located on the horizon line.

How does one point perspective help artist draw objects and buildings in space? ›

ONE POINT PERSPECTIVE PROVIDES FOR A VANTAGE POINT OF THE SCENE APPEARING IN THE ARTWORK. A mathematical system for representing three-dimensional objects and space on a two-dimensional surface by means of intersecting lines that are drawn vertically and horizontally and that radiate from one point on a horizon line .

What is one point perspective in art appreciation? ›

Art responds to all of these kinds of space. One-point perspective occurs when the receding lines appear to converge at a single point on the horizon and used when the flat front of an object is facing the viewer.

What are the advantages of two-point perspective? ›

Two-point perspective. - This shows an object from the side with two vanishing points. It gives the most realistic view of a product as it shows the item edge on, as we would see it. It is often used to produce realistic drawings of an object.


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