Introduction: How to Make a Two-Point Perspective Drawing

When we draw, we are drawing on a two-dimensional surface. Sometimes, we like to add some realism to our drawings--one way to achieve that is to create an illusion of a three-dimensional space. After finishing this tutorial, you will learn how to draw in a two-point perspective which will create the illusion of a 3D space. Sometimes referred as Angular Perspective, is used when drawing rectangular shapes being viewed diagonally, or turned at an angle.

You will need: 
a ruler,
a pencil,
and your imagination!

Before we start, I must say, it will be helpful if you learned the Elements of Design first, such as knowledge on creating lines, shapes, values, textures, colors, and space. Knowing these principles will make this tutorial much easier. Thank you and good luck!

Step 1: Vocabulary

This is the part that all artists dislike (including myself at first), which is the jargon that goes with it. Don't worry, I'll only be teaching you four very important terms that I reference throughout the tutorial. Afterwards, I promise we can start drawing. 

The first term is called the Station Point (S.P). This is the view or the fixed position of the eye of the observer. 

Another important term is Horizon Line (H.L) or Eye Level (E.L) (it's used interchangeably). This is an imaginary line that goes horizontal through your drawing.

Vanishing Point (V.P) is the point where receding parallel lines appear to meet. 

Lastly, Picture Frame (P.F) is the boundaries of your drawing.

Make sure to remember the abbreviations because I refer back to them in the pictures.  

Step 2: Constructing Basic Boxes

When starting two-point perspective drawings it's nice to start with something simple such as boxes. This may seem intimidating but it's actually quite simple. 

Step 3: Basic Boxes 2

Draw a straight horizontal line across your paper, which will be your eye level.

Place two circles on both ends, these will be your vanishing points (V.P); you can place them anywhere on the line. 

Start by drawing two parallel lines. You can place these lines anywhere on your paper, just make sure there in between the vanishing points. Also, it will be helpful to make these vary in lengths, such as make one higher than the other.

Step 4: Basic Boxes 3

Draw a straight line from the top of the vertical line to the left vanishing point. Note, this should connect the top of the two vertical lines you drew earlier.

Draw another line from the bottom of the vertical line to the same vanishing point. You should be left with a parallelogram. 

Step 5: Basic Boxes 3

Place your ruler on the other vanishing point. Draw another straight line from the top of the vertical line to the other vanishing point.

Repeat for the bottom of the vertical line.

Step 6: Basic Boxes 5

Draw another verticle line at the end of the lines you just drew. You should be left with two parallelograms attached together. 

Now, notice in the second picture that I completed one box on the left side. But the other two in red, still doesn't look right. The two red boxes need need more lines to complete the box. This is due to foreshortening. 

Boxes below or above the horizon line, you will be able to see the bottom side or the top side of the box. Since the other box (the one not outlined in red) is on the horizon line, you won't be able to see neither the bottom or top side of the box.


Step 7: Basic Boxes 6

Place the ruler on the right vanishing point and the vertical line and draw a straight line. 

Step 8: Basic Boxes 7

Finish the boxes by placing your ruler on the left vanishing point and the vertical line. This line should connect the line you drew in the last step, which should complete the box.

Step 9: Moving the Vanishing Points

Until now, the vanishing points have been in the same place. I want to show what happens when you move the vanishing points to different locations on the horizon line, and how that effects the shape and direction of the cube. Importantly, sometimes the vanishing points are not in the picture frame--which is O.K. 

Draw a picture frame on your paper, which is essentially a rectangle.

Draw a straight line that represents your horizon line. 

Place one vanishing point on the horizon line.

Below the horizon line, draw a square. 

Connect the lines to the vanishing point to make a cube. 

Step 10: Rotating View

As you move the vanishing points, you start to see the box rotate. Try to move the box by shifting the vanishing points.

Notice in the picture above, one of the vanishing points is out of the picture frame. Most two-point perspective drawings have at least one vanishing point out of the picture frame, and some have both vanishing points out of the frame. 

Step 11: Rotating Views (cont.)

In the pictures above, you can see how moving the vanishing points effects the cube.


Step 12: Finding the Grid

You can see these principles actually relate to observation, look at the photographic image of my hometown of West Liberty, IA. Sometimes it's hard to tell that in a real life example of a two-point perspective image, lines will converge to two vanishing points.

So I took it upon myself to show you in a video, that they really do converge to a point. I've traced the edges back to their vanishing points from this perspective, and I showed how the parallel lines meet. After finding these vanishing points, you can find the eye level line, by drawing a straight line through each point.

You can try by using tracing paper over an image (make sure it's a two-point perspective image), and tracing the parallel lines until they meet each other. This is a helpful exercise to help you see that this applies to real life scenarios.