How to Draw a Simple Vehicle in Perspective




Introduction: How to Draw a Simple Vehicle in Perspective

Are you able to connect two dots with a straight line?

It's a rather simple task, but if you are able to complete it, you are also able to draw anything in the world from your imagination - if you have the right tools.

With the guidance of this Instructable you will use three tools to create a simple, rough sketch of a truck and learn to harness the power of a fourth tool - perspective - to ensure that vehicle is drawn accurately in relation to its surroundings. By the end of the tutorial, you will have learned the basics of an invaluable skill hundreds of thousands of professional artists, designers, engineers, story-board developers, game companies, inventors, and product manufacturers use to close the boundaries between science fiction and reality.


1. Ballpoint or fine-tipped pen. Any pen will suffice, as long as the ink flows cleanly, and without drying out.

2. Standard, 8x11 printing paper (any clean paper will do)

3. Ruler or equal spacing divider (preferably clear)

You will also need a clean surface upon which to draw. Having the area clean and clear of items will allow for a more focused and efficient drawing exercise.

Step 1: First Excercise: Learning Two-Point Perspective.

It is important to understand that an artist is nothing more than an illusionist. In order to make convincing designs or illustrations, artists must use a two-dimensional medium to mimic objects found in the third dimension, and fool the eye into thinking it is viewing an object which has depth and breadth.

That's where perspective comes in.

Perspective is what gives an accurate impression as to the height, width, and length of objects in relation to one-another. To put it another way, it's what makes stuff look real; if you don't execute it correctly, it'll look weird.

Just ask M.C. Escher - he did it on purpose.

Now, there are many forms of perspective, but in this tutorial we're going to focus only on one: Two-Point Perspective. We'll get started by practicing making a simple box shape.

1.1 Using your pen and ruler, draw a horizontal line, spanning most of your paper. This line is called your, "Horizone Line" (HL).(Fig. 1a)

1.2 The ends of your line are called the "Left Vanishing Point" (LVP) and Right Vanishing Point (RVP) respectively. They are called as such because they are the points at which stuff vanishes in to the horizon.These are also the titular two-points; our entire perspective relies on these two little dots. (Fig. 1b)

1.3 Draw two diagonal lines, one extending from each vanishing point, so that they converge near the center of your paper. Ensuring the ruler is straight on the edge of the paper, draw a single vertical line where your two lines converge. (Fig. 1c)

1.4 Check your progress. Does your work look like Figure 1d?

1.5 Once you're satisfied, draw two more vertical lines to establish where the sides of your cube end. (Fig. 1e)

1.6 Connect the dots. If you've done everything correctly, you've successfully made the illusion of a simple three-dimensional cube! (Figs. 1f, 1g)

If you're not too used to drawing this way, it may be a bit confusing at first - make sure you retrace your steps and try again if you are having trouble.

While perhaps daunting at first, there is good news if you have mastered this simple skill: Since everything in three-dimensional space exists in a box, you are now capable of drawing anything - with the proper guidance, of course. (Figure 1h provides some examples.)

To test this, let's draw a simple vehicle.

Step 2: Establishing Perspective for Our Vehicle.

We're going to go about building our vehicle slight differently than the way we constructed our cube. The main reason is most vehicles rely on wheels for travel, and in order to adequately block out space for our vehicle - a little truck in this case- we need to establish a wheel base. You will be able to execute this task much more easily using the skills you practiced in Exercise 1.

2.1 Establish your horizone line, a single diagonal, and a vertical crossing perpendicular to it. This will be the left side of our truck, and serves as the base for the wheels of our vehicle. (Fig. 2a)

2.2 We need to decide how tall our wheels will be. I "eyeballed", or approximated a height. Try and make sure yours looks similar to the one in Figure 2b.

2.3 Now we must choose a width for the tires. I chose to measure out two centimeters with my ruler, and use that as the width. (Fig. 2c)

2.4 Now we star blocking out the first tire, extending a diagonal line from the lower left-hand corner of our first diagonal, to the right-hand point of the tire width we blocked out. (Fig. 2d)

2.5 Draw a vertical to indicate the boundaries of the tire, reaching from the top right point of the tire-width, straight down into the first diagonal. This little square is where your first wheel will fit, though drawing the wheel will come later. (Fig. 2e)

2.6 Draw another diagonal within your "wheel square" to make an "X". This will allow you to find the midpoint of your square. (Fig. 2f)

2.7 Draw a line reaching from the center of the "X" to your Right Vanishing Point. (Fig. 2g)

If you've followed these steps correctly, you're doing really well! If you're having some trouble, check each figure to see where you went wrong, then practice on said problem until you've got it down. The importance of accuracy in this stage cannot be overstated, as what follows relies entirely on this part!

Step 3: Scaffolding

Now comes the fun part. We need to determine the length of our rough little truck, but we want to try and leave as little as possible to luck or guesswork at this stage, in order to avoid messing up proportion - it would look strange to have an unnaturally long truck, or a sports car which is too compressed. A good rule of thumb is to have three wheels' space between your front and rear tire. The instructions in this step will teach you a quick trick to extend any geometry easily and efficiently.

3.1 Extend a diagonal line from the top-left corner of your wheel base, through the right end of your wheel's midpoint, until it reaches the first diagonal you drew. Once you have done so, draw a vertical line from that point, up to the top diagonal. If done correctly, you will have accurately replicated a square in perspective. Make sure you look at Figure 3a for guidance.

3.2 Repeat step 1 three more times, creating four subsections. The fourth subsection is where your rear tire will be drawn later. Fill in the fourth subsection with the "X" demonstrated in step 2.6. Note that the center of this "X" should be on the line you drew in step 2.7 (Fig. 3b)

3.3 In this step, observe how Figure 3c mirrors the grid you just created; Try and replicate those results on your own, without instruction. Take note of any areas you are having difficulty with, in order to revisit them and practice.

3.4 Figure 3d Shows what we are working towards. The diagonals coming from the LVP deal with the width of the truck, the front-most diagonal corresponding with what will later become the bumper, and the diagonals extending from the RVP deal with vehicle length, in this case.


Do you see how the rear tire and the front tires are not even remotely the same size or shape? If we were observing this vehicle from the side, wouldn't they share the same height, width, and length? Well, yes - but since we are inperspective, it appears as though the rear of the vehicle is slowly shrinking. This concept, called foreshortening is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for novice artists and designers.

If you ever looked at your friend's drawing and thought maybe something was a bit "off" or "weird", nine times out of ten, it will be because they 1.) didn't foreshorten accurately 2.) foreshortened without applying perspective accurately.

Lucky for you, these steps have made you aware of what to avoid, and how to fix it; find your horizon lines.

Step 4: Extending the Front of the Vehicle

I don't know about you, but I don't see many cars driving around without hoods. In our current drawing, our truck has four very nice tires blocked out an ready to fill in, but no hood - we need to extend the geometry a little bit in order to create it.

As you may imagine by now, there are many ways to do this, and I play around with a few before settling on one I like best. I've purposely omitted steps to make this tutorial less redundant, and to make you think about where each line should start, finish, and connect; the whole process is just making lines and connecting dots, but you need to think critically about each step so you don't get lost or overwhelmed in the sea of lines.

4.1 First I extend a diagonal from the top right corner of the left, front wheel, and extend it through the midpoint of the wheel, until it reaches the first diagonal I drew. (Fig. 4a)

4.2 That gives me a good amount of space to work with, so I mirror the action onto the right side of the vehicle. (Fig. 4b)

4.3 It's to much to fill in, but cutting the new space in two will be a good size for the hood, so I play around with some dimensions. (Fig. 4c)

4.4 After cutting the new space in half, I build a grid carefully, eyeballing the dimensions, ensuring each line corresponds to the right point on the grid, and that every diagonal line aligns with its corresponding Vanishing Point. (Fig. 4d)

Step 5: Blocking Out Shape, Adding Detail

5.1 Draw the hood, add a window to see how it will fit. Make sure to follow the rules of perspective you've been practicing; make sure the verticals are exactly 90 degrees using your ruler and the edge of the page, and make sure diagonals correspond to their Vanishing Points. (Fig. 5a)

5.2 Finish the hood, and add the windshield. (Fig. 5b)

5.3 Add some headlights. (Fig. 5c)

5.4 This part is really important - you're creating the axle for the wheels. Find the midpoint of your tire (the middle of the "X") and draw a line toward the LVP. (Fig. 5d)

5.5 Repeat for your rear tire. Notice that the two axles will also pass through their partner wheel on the right side of the truck. (Fig. 5e)

5.6 Fill in the wheels; this part is really important, but pretty hard for beginners, so it's acceptable if your lines are a little bit "hairy". Try to divide each ellipse into chunks, and reflect them across one-another as demonstrated in Figure 5f

5.7 Closeup of wheel subdivision. It's easier to break the wheel up and mirror it than it is to get it right in one go without special tools. (Fig. 5g)

5.8 Closeup of the complete wheel. (Fig. 5h)

Step 6: Step 6: Finishing Touches

6.1 Fill in your tires (Fig. 6a)

6.2 Add a drop shadow directly under your car. This gives the object depth and added realism. (Fig. 6b)

6.3 OPTIONAL: If you want to add coloring and shading t your vehicle, go for it, and top it all off with a couple stick figures (in perspective, of course) to give your audience an idea of the relative size of the truck. (Fig. 6c)

You're all done!

It may not seem like a lot, but with these humble, rough beginnings, you have successfully employed the basic skills used to develop and design every single idea man can dream up. Not only this, but you now have a taste of the principles of drawing things accurately.

Provided are some examples of more advanced, complex geometry that can be created with the same skills you have just been introduced to; this Instructable barely scratches the surface in terms of the amount of resources, techniques, methods, and principles available for you to learn on the public domain.

Figures 6a, 6b courtesy Scott Robertson

Figures 6c, 6d, 6e, 6f courtesy Feng Zhu Design

Figure 6g courtesy Chi-Ya Kuan art

If you want to learn more, please check out both Scott Robertson, and Feng Zhu - two experts in this field -

on Youtube:

Feng Zhu Design School

Scott Robertson free tutorials

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    4 years ago

    The tab was waiting in my browser since many days. At last, I tried and completed it today, just for fun. Thanks for the great info.


    4 years ago

    Great information, nicely done!