Part 1d Perspective

Perspective (and other optical illusions)
Perspective (and other optical illusions)

Perspective is one of those things that frustrates and confounds artists.  I can recommend this great little book as a starting point.

It is brief, but to the point and explains the basics.





Many artists strive to create illusions on flat surfaces.  The illusion is to make the object on the flat surface seem 3D. to do this we need to understand and employ elements of perspective.  Depending on what you are trying to portray will depend on the type of perspective you use.

Single point perspective

Single Point Perspective

Most people have heard of vanishing points, the spot in the distance where what you’re looking at merges with an imaginary horizon – usually level with your eyes.

Click the image for a great video from elimICT that demonstrates single point perspective in simple terms.

2 Point Perspective

OK so that’s pretty simple, but what about objects that are corner on? Here we need to use 2 vanishing points, hence the name 2 point perspective.

2 Point Perspective

Carternemo’s video on two point perspective has the added bonus of explaining how to draw circles in perspective



2 point perspective

At this point I got a little carried away with perspective and started to practice creating the shapes and adding some tonal values to them.  This is great practice for any artist, but I found it a good way of loosening up before still life.




Drawing cylinders

By the way if you’re having problems drawing cylinders, try this video from NIUart01



My research into perspective led me to some great clips, a few of which I’ve shared here, but they only scratch the surface.

I find the whole area of perspective fascinating and in particular I love the work of MC Escher; a master of perspective and illusion.

I am still awaiting permission to link to some of his images on this site, so as soon as I obtain that I will develop a page that looks at his use of perspective and illusion on a flat surface.

Single point perspective sketch

For now here’s the final video from Thingstodraw that might inspire you to create your own 5 minute perspective practices.




In the meantime, here’s my experience of perspectice in practice…

Playing with multiple point perspective

In this piece I started to play with what I learned about perspective and next I tried applying it without drawing the lines so technically.

Click any of these thumbnails for a larger image

Wireframe boxes
Boxes and books






Bottles and tubes






It’s a weird thing, but when you start to study something that you have done naturally for a while, you almost loose your confidence that you can do it correctly.  For me it’s a bit like touch typing; I can do it as long as I don’t start concentrating on it ;0)…after that my fingers are all over the place!  So I guess there is something to be said for getting into that artist’s frame of mind and shifting to the alpha brain waves, or right-brained mode, that allows you to utilise your perception to it’s fullest extent.

The practice exercises were great for shifting me into the right frame of mind.


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