The Ultimate Guide To One Point Perspective (2024)

In this post, I will discuss one point perspective and how you can use it to create more realistic artworks.

Perspective in art can be broken into two areas – atmospheric perspective and linear perspective. One point perspective is a type of linear perspective.

One point perspective is a system to assist in realistically rendering a three-dimensional scene on a two-dimensional surface by using lines which radiate from one point (known as a vanishing point) on the horizon line. One point perspective differs from two point and three point perspectives in that there is only one vanishing point.

When an object recedes into the distance, it appears smaller. One point perspective is nothing more than a simple way of determining the relative size of that object as it recedes into the distance.

Linear perspective takes a very mathematical approach to creating realism in your artworks and is one of the first things you will learn in art. Atmospheric perspective is not as structured and demonstrates changes in value, color and detail as an object recedes into the distance (to mimic the effect the atmosphere has on how we see things).

One point perspective is the most basic form of linear perspective, so it is a great place to start.The concept of linear perspective becomes more difficult to understand as more vanishing points are added.

  • History Of One Point Perspective
  • When To Use One Point Perspective
  • How To Use One Point Perspective
  • Examples of One Point Perspective in Action
  • Thanks for Reading!
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History Of One Point Perspective

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When To Use One Point Perspective

It was surprisingly difficult to find examples of paintings that demonstrate one-point perspective. Two point perspective seems to be much more appropriate in most cases.

One point perspective is useful when the front plane of an object is directly in front of you and runs parallel to the horizon line.

Some examples of when you could use one point perspective are when you look:

  • Down a road or path
  • Down the hallway in your house
  • Directly at the front of a building

For example, take this painting by Vincent van Gogh. It appears to have been designed based on one point perspective, as we are looking straight down the room towards the horizon line.

One point perspective was used in this case not only to paint his room, but also to determine the relative size and shape of all the objects inside.

The blue circle in the center marks thevanishing point, the red line marks thehorizon line and the blue lines mark the parallel lines which radiate from the vanishing point.

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One point perspective is appropriate as we are looking almost directly at the back wall and we can see the true shape of the front plane. But what if we were not looking at the back wall, but instead the corners? Well, in that case, two point perspective would be needed.

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You should note that there is essentially no difference between one and two point perspective other than the number of vanishing points used.

When to use one point perspective will usually be obvious. If you are not sure, then two or three point perspective is probably needed.

Also, I want to note that one point perspective is anothing more than a tool to help you more clearly render three-dimensional objects onto a two-dimensional surface.

Will people notice if a small object does not align with one point perspective? No.

Do you need to use one, two or three point perspective in all your paintings? No. Sometimes it may be just a simple landscape, so you can rely moreso onatmospheric perspective to create the illusion of depth in your painting.

So do not go crazy trying to make everything completely accurate in terms of perspective. Nature is not perfect, so don’t try make it so.

Here is an interesting image (source) which demonstrates how one and two point perspectives could be used when viewing the same building:

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How To Use One Point Perspective

I will use this simple demonstration to show you how to use one point perspective. Let’s start with a simple square.

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Now, add the horizon line and vanishing point and draw the parallel lines from the vanishing point to the edges of the square.

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Now let’s add some more squares, all which are facing the same direction.

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Finally, you can use the parallel lines to finish the squares. Notice how they appear to be at varying distances, but they all face the same direction. If these squares werenotfacing the same direction, then two-point perspective would be needed to accurately render linear perspective.

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Examples of One Point Perspective in Action

Here are some more examples of one-point perspective. I provide an image of the photo, then the same photo with the vanishing point, horizon line and parallel lines drawn in.

If you want to learn more about one-point perspective, I suggest you go to WikiArt and try to find paintings that appear to use one point perspective. It is not as easy as you may think. Rarely will you be painting with the front face of an object directly in front of you.

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Thanks for Reading!

Feel free to share with friends. If you want more painting tips, check out my fundamentals course.

Happy painting!

Dan Scott

Draw Paint Academy

Read more of my articles.


Dan Scott is the founder of Draw Paint Academy. He's a self-taught artist from Australia with a particular interest in landscape painting. Draw Paint Academy is run by Dan and his wife, Chontele, with the aim of helping you get the most out of the art life. You can read more on the About page.

The Ultimate Guide To One Point Perspective (2024)


How do you master 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. The only lines that do not intersect are horizontal lines, vertical lines and slanted lines.

What famous artists use one-point perspective? ›

Using one point perspective allow artists to show different levels of the scene, like landscape, cityscape, buildings and rooms. There are a lot of famous artists specialized in one-point perspective painting, such as Van Gogh, Claude Oscar Monet, Camille Pissarro, Canaletto and so on.

How did Leonardo da Vinci use one-point perspective? ›

Leonardo used one point perspective, which involves all the lines in the painting converging in one place, known as the vanishing point. This strategy was used to emphasize the importance and central position of Christ. The lines all converge in his right eye, drawing the viewers gaze to this place.

Is 1 point perspective realistic? ›

One point perspective, at its core, is a method employed by artists to create a realistic sense of depth and space on a two-dimensional plane. It works primarily on the basic principle that all lines within an image lead to a common intersecting point called the "vanishing point".

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

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 . In a two-point perspective drawing, how do you draw a square (four equal sides)?

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

There are few basic elements that you need to understand, namely the vanishing point, the horizon line and the frontal planes.

Did Van Gogh use one-point perspective? ›

Van Gogh used One Point Perspective in this painting to represent the inside of a room, which is different from the landscapes that people were normally used to see.

Who invented one-point perspective? ›

In the early 1400s, the Italian architect Filippo Brunelleschi (1377–1446) reintroduced a means of rendering the recession of space, called linear perspective. In Brunelleschi's technique, lines appear to converge at a single fixed point in the distance.

Who was the first artist to use perspective accurately? ›

The first known picture to make use of linear perspective in art was created by Filippo Brunelleschi, but the artist Masaccio was the first painter who demonstrated the result of the new rules of perspective in art.

What perspective is the Mona Lisa in? ›

Da Vinci also observed differences between the subject and objects in the background, and used aerial perspective to create the illusion of depth: the farther something is in the distance, the smaller the scale, the more muted the colors and the less detailed the outlines.

Is the Last Supper one-point perspective? ›

Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper is particularly incredible for the perspective the great artist successfully employed. Arguably the best example of one point perspective in the world, every single element of the painting directs attention directly to Christ's head, right in the middle of the composition.

Is The Last Supper in 2d or 3D? ›

In order to fully document an artwork like the Last Supper it is essential to consider it as a complete 3D object.

Do humans see in one-point perspective? ›

It's not that people were less observant or talented before, it's just not natural to see the world from one point of view. But it is natural to see the world represented in a picture from one point of view. When perspective is correct in a drawing, the viewer effortlessly understands the form.

Why did Stanley Kubrick use one-point perspective? ›

Stanley Kubrick and One-Point Perspective

Kubrick would use this type of composition to elicit a phycological reaction, to place the audience in an uncomfortable state, as this is the natural reaction to this type of framing.

What does one-point perspective work best with? ›

Drawing in one-point perspective is usually appropriate when the subject is viewed front-on (such as when looking directly at the face of a cube or the wall of building) or when looking directly down something long, like a road or railway track.

What are the techniques of one-point perspective? ›

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.

How can I improve my perspective drawing? ›

  1. Step 1: Sketch the Squares. ...
  2. Step 2: Add the Vanishing Point and Orthogonal Lines. ...
  3. Step 3: Add More Orthogonal Lines. ...
  4. Step 4: Trace or Transfer the Image. ...
  5. Step 5: Add the Light Values. ...
  6. Step 6: Add the Middle Values. ...
  7. Step 7: Add the Dark Values.

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

6 important principles for drawing In Perspective Principles (Overlapping, Convergence, Vanishing points, Horizon line, Foreshortening, Diminution)


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