8. Perspective in one…two…three…

I always say that perspective is easy…when you know what to look for! Now you know to start with big shapes, how to find your ever-important eye level line, and that how you sit and view your subject is responsible for whether or not your sketch will be a one or two-point perspective! Next step, let’s construct a simple one-point perspective in 3 easy steps!

Starting with your view,

  1. Edit what you see to simple shapes. Find one big shape to use to start your sketch, and measure the proportions to find the ratio of height to width. This door frame is about 1 pencil unit wide to 2.5 pencil units tall, a ration of 1:2.5
  2. Find your vanishing point. Use your pencil to extend the receding lines to find the point where they converge in the distance (orange). Mark that point mentally to something in your view– here it’s close to the corner of the window in the distance. Notice where this point is relative to the big shape you just drew–here, it’s about half way up the door frame and very close to the center of the width of the door frame.
  3. Draw in your Eye Level Line. It’s the height of your eyes above the floor. The Vanishing Point is directly in front of you when you are sitting square to your subject.

And that’s it! This gives you the foundational lines and a road map to completing your sketch! Here is the sketch sequence:

After using my pencil to measure the proportions, I transfer that ratio of 1:2.5 lengths to my paper
to draw a rectangle in loose, light lines. This is the big shape! Add the VP and ELL.
Add more information, by blocking out more big shapes in light, loose lines.
Use the Vanishing Point for all the receding lines.
On this third pass, I darken the lines that are important. Because I’m right-handed, I start on the left and work my way to the right to avoid smearing.
Next I underpainted with yellow ochre and a light gray to establish
lights and darks and to unify the painting.
Add more color. Basically, I was trying to do a light-dark-light sequence through the spaces.

OK, it’s not a masterpiece, but given the limitations of subject matter in my house where I am stuck at the moment, at least it explains the concepts!! What I often hear from folks in my workshops is that they finally have a structure, a recipe, a road map, basic tools for how to start a sketch in perspective. Nearly all the sketches I do are one point perspectives, and I start ALL of them with these same 3 simple steps! Try sketching a doorway in your home, post it, and tag me on Facebook or Instagram @stephanieabower.

7 thoughts on “8. Perspective in one…two…three…

  1. Still a very nice drawing ! Thank you very much for this detailed explanation and all your posts !


  2. This is great Stephanie, thank you! Love to see the sketching and painting sequence too. I’m trying the corner of my living room (2 point perspective) and it being an interior corner means that the vanishing points of each wall reach in lines across the opposite wall on the sketch, does that make sense…? For some reason this seems harder than an exterior corner.
    Thanks again for your generous informative posts! I have been trying to sketch daily, there are so many great urban sketching posts to follow, keeping me busy in our isolation. Teoh in Singapore has his A-Z sketchbook – that is fun too.
    Stay well.


  3. Ironically i had a similar exercise for my on-line watercolor class. We could have chosen any corner in our apartment. I did a door which led through a powder room to a bathroom. The color is blue. Looked very similar to your sketch. But after the lesson with you i can see how i could have done it better. Thank you.


  4. Oh you say it’s not a masterpiece and while reading the post and staring at the last picture I was thinking “she can make a beautiful interesting piece just drawing a simple space like that”. Thanks for sharing 😍


    1. Hi Mariana, you are really kind to write this…I’m no where near as good as other Urban Sketchers who can turn tubes of toothpaste or gas pipes into masterpieces! But yes, it’s amazing the power of a sketch to record and transform!


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