Picture of How to Draw - Basic Linear Perspective
In this first installment of my ongoing series of "How to Draw" Instructables, I will show you how to create real-looking three dimensional shapes.

Linear Perspective is the most basic form of perspective in which all objects with faces parallel to the horizon, appear to converge in the distance at a single point on the horizon (the vanishing point).

To learn what on Earth this possibly means, grab yourself:

- a few sheets of 18" x 24" paper
- a pencil
- a straight metal ruler
- a white mars plastic eraser

and dare follow me to the next step.

Step 1: Vanishing horizons.

Picture of Vanishing horizons.
If you were to stand on a plane and look out into the distance, the imaginary line that demarcates between the Earth and the sky is considered the horizon. For argument's sake, the horizon is a straight line (even though in actual space it is slightly curved).

Now, if you were to stare straight ahead at the horizon, the point on the horizon directly in front of you would be considered the vanishing point. It's called the vanishing point since all objects seem to vanish towards it as they go back into the distance.
Parabola9495 years ago
Very nice tutorial. I've always been big on perspective, so for an example to others, here's a very small idea of what can be done. The city was from back in middle school, never finished it. The cubicle maze.. Well, that came out when I got into abstracts. I still have it hanging on my wall (made it when I was... 17?) But seriously- good tutorial for anyone wanting to learn this kind of stuff. Sorry- this thing won't let me make the images any larger... so they are kind of hard to see.
cubicle maze small.jpgCity.jpg
hi i really would like to learn how to draw perspective drawing of 2d drawing. For example u have been told to convert a 2d birds eye view of buildings into a front view perspective drawing. How would you do that?
That first drawing is amazing.... Made me think of Inception. Well Done!
cfrankel7 months ago

One of the best books to learn perspective and how to draw is called Drawing in 3d by Mark Kistler you can also check out his website. http://markkistler.com

I highly recommend it!

mona.kh.7773611 months ago

Hi, I have a micro teaching assessment in two weeks. I have picked one point perspective subject to teach in 15 mins, but for practical task bit not sure what I can ask students to do in 10 mins. Can you help me in this? A simple, quick practice for one point perspective! Many thanks

Thanks for sharing your talent !

I'de love to enter each morning in an elevator car as well decorated as the one you show on step 1 !… ;)))

Ace Frahm3 years ago
Where can I find "How to draw - Advanced Linear Perspective"?
vishalapr4 years ago
I just finished typing up my instructable on perspective drawings on word and then I see this!Now Im wondering wether I should make an instructable or not??
randofo (author)  vishalapr4 years ago
You should totally put up your own. The more the merrier.

I've been wanting to do some more drawing instructables, but never enough time... so much to do... so little time.
I know!I might!But this is so much better explained!
vishalapr4 years ago
Well explained instructable!
I sooo think that there should be a drawing and an origami contest on instructables.com!!!
d1ndian4 years ago
hi i really would like to learn how to draw perspective drawing of 2d drawing. For example u have been told to convert a 2d birds eye view of buildings into a front view perspective drawing. How would you do that?
Not completely sure if that question was for me or Author (randofo), but could you be a little more specific? Not sure what exactly you mean, but I'd like to try to help.
jerryjcepic4 years ago
love this, would like to learn more on perspective to draw urban landscapes.

how do you go about drawing items to scale and proportionate to where they are on the horizon, are there measurement techniques?
mrfluffy4 years ago
doing epic perspective drawings when i was thirteen too (even though im now 14) *fist bump*
bertus52x114 years ago
Did you ever make the "How to draw - Advanced Linear Perspective" ? Since your I'ble was so clear, I was eager to see the rest...
beehard444 years ago
ooh, i remember my grade 5 art class
Like most artists, I formally learned to create perspective drawings while in high school. However, I soon found that when drawing products for use in catalogs, a certain amount of “fudging” had to be done. As your drawing recedes back into space, distortion occurs that really messes with the drawings viewability. Back in my studio days, some of the illustrators used a gadget called a rabbit ears. It looked like a goofy type of T-square that was articulated in a way that would allow the artist to utilize vanishing points that would almost have been impossible otherwise. A little digging on the internet should result in an explanation of the construction and use of this handy little gadget. Also, I found that if a drawing “looks right”, it usually is good enough. I’ve personally drawn thousands of product illustrations in perspective, both conventionally and on computer. I have to say this; as a pro, you have to learn to know when to say when, as far as accuracy is concerned. Most clients never know how much effort goes into a piece of art (heck, their clients), but they do know what they want to spend. Usually, there is a wide gulf between the two.
Clayton H.5 years ago
Reminds me of this...
Less than three, less than three.
Less than three what?
LOL Never heard or "saw" that one put quite like that. I do know a teenager who will get a kick out of less than three! Thanks for the reply.
I love XKCD!!!
Bad Maxx5 years ago
When I learned this in High School Art Class I made many drawings utilizing this technique. I loved how the pictures turned out and was tickled to find I actually had some talent for art. Years later I tried to draw a covered bridge using this technique, it turned out fairly well but was missing the depth I wanted to convey, your ible has shown me what I was missing. Thank you and awesome job!!
Mudbud5 years ago
Aparently it didnt go well then eh? great ible' though..
rookie16 years ago
Really good instructable! Very easy to understand. It is the one thing I have trouble with. Very good
cd416 years ago
i read something about this being incorperated alot in Da vinci's work
toelle cd416 years ago
A lot (and i really mean a lot) of artist use perspective in their drawings/paintings.
Sonico6 years ago
Im off to university end of this year, and have never done perspective drawing before. My course will involve alot of it, and i would just like to say. Your tutorial has been a great help, you've giving me the basics to survive... :) Thankyou very much (:
wenpherd6 years ago
do you use printing paper
iq_abyss6 years ago
It has been 410 days since you posted this ible, whet is "How to Draw- Advanced Linear Perspective" going to be published? My art class is working with perspective now, and I'm really into it! Thank you for this ible though.
randofo (author)  iq_abyss6 years ago
Yes, I have to post the follow up. And I want to do a series on two and three point perspective. I'll get back to that in a few weeks once I get some time.
hilmc7 years ago
I teach drawing--currently at Marshall University--and I'm always looking for new tools for teaching linear perspective that make it more fun and less intimidating. I stumbled on this while searching around. This is a great little tutorial, but there is a problem with the text in step 2. You have used the word "perpendicular" when you should have used "parallel." The horizontal edges of the buildings that face the viewer are PARALLEL to the horizon line, and the facing planes of those buildings are PARALLEL to the picture plane. In the situation shown, any plane or edge that is not parallel to the picture plane (the invisible window that the viewer looks through) is seen in a foreshortened view and will appear in a drawing as a diagonal or a vertical.
randofo (author)  hilmc7 years ago
eek! Thanks. fixed.
royalestel7 years ago
I approve! Great jorb!
you did a great jorb out there homestar!
lol good jorb!
Thank you. Please, Please, Please take us to the next step. This was awesome.
kittenz7 years ago
This is a terrific tutorial! I've always loved perspective drawing & this is one of the best tutorials I have seen.
Sandra Tea7 years ago
Thank you. Your lesson was easy to follow and to comprehend. I'm ready to be let loose. When do we begin the next step?
randofo (author)  Sandra Tea7 years ago
Shortly... if all goes well.
frankly19707 years ago
I love the snake poster!
Neodudeman7 years ago
You should join the Your art group
chalky7 years ago
nice work!
Easy Button7 years ago
Neat, now i know how to do that but to bad i stink at drawing.lol
This is akin to mechanical drawing, a learned skill. While clearly many have a natural ability when it comes to free hand drawing, it too, is something that be learned to a degree. Interestingly enough one of the first thing our art teacher mentioned was PERSPECTIVE. I reached the point where I could create decent, not good and definitely, not great free hand drawings. Well enough to get across what I wanted to convey. A lot of words to basically say, don't dismiss it out of hand, before trying it.
randofo (author)  Easy Button7 years ago
You don't really need to know how to draw. All you need to know is how to use a ruler and a pencil.
static randofo7 years ago
I recall being introduced to these sort of drawings in HS freshman industrial arts and learning more in a HS class of advanced mechanical drawing. Having a T square and triangles helps a lot, but not necessary. I would suggest using drafting pencils. As I recall a 4H is used in the initial layout because it lays down a line that's easier to erase, a 2H is used to trace over the layout lines to darken the final drawing. Anyway a nice instructable, will be looking for the next installment.
Mr. Rig It7 years ago
This is a very nice instructable and I feel that perspective drawings put instructables on a higher level. you get a + from me. Good Job
YarenZero7 years ago
I learned how to do this in my freshman year in high school and it's so easy and really makes pictures look good. You should make one for two and three point perspectives as well.
Aww! I learned about this today in animation 1, and I was going to do this as a project! But it's a good instructable!