3 Point Perspective Drawing Tutorial

Three-point perspective drawing is one of the most difficult skills to master for someone new to pictorial drawings. I will go into detail about how to create a three-point perspective drawing below, but an abridged version can be seen in the video below:

Ground Rules

  • Must have three vanishing points
    • Left vanishing point gives width
    • Right vanishing point gives depth
    • Bottom vanishing point gives height
  • All lines will be at different angles

Getting Started

Create your horizon line and place two dots on it. One on the left and the other on the right. Once you have done that, place the third dot below the horizon line somewhere between the two other dots.

 

Place a construction dot in somewhere in or near the middle of the three dots you just created. This dot will represent the top right end of our part.

Using construction lines, connect all of the vanishing points to the dot you created. This will give us the top right corner of our part. Remember that lines coming from the left vanishing point show width, lines from the right show depth, and lines from the bottom show height.

Once you do that, place another dot somewhere below the middle dot, but on the line coming from the bottom vanishing point. This gives us the bottom right edge of the part.

Just like two-point perspective drawing connect your left and right vanishing points to the new dot using construction lines. The triangle that each of them forms will tell us something about the part. The triangle on the left shows the width of the part and the triangle on the right shows the depth.

Now that we have an area for width and depth, we need to establish how wide and deep the part actually is. The thing I love about perspective drawing is that you can’t be wrong. Everything is up for interpretation. What you want to do is make two construction lines coming from your bottom vanishing points. One will be on the left side and one will be on the right. Once you have these you have established the width and depth of the part. Prior to this step, the part was infinitely wide and deep.

Again as in two-point perspective drawing, you need to connect your lines to the opposing vanishing point.  The line on the left coming from the bottom vanishing point needs to be connected to the vanishing point on the right. And the construction line on the right needs to be connected to the vanishing point on the left. When you do this, you will establish the top of the object and you should see something that looks like a box.

At this point, you have the basis for everything else that you need to create a three-point perspective drawing. After this point, your process can vary with the object presented.

Next Steps

Now that you have the basic box established, it’s time to define it. All we have done to this point is establish the maximum width, height, and depth of our object. Now we need to go through the process of creating the rest of it. What I like to do is draw out anything that is touching the edges of the box. By that, I mean that I want to find any faces that would touch the cube that we just make. In this example, we have an “L” shape on the left (front view) of the object and a rectangle on the right and top of the object. I need to establish where these are at before I can move forward.

 

This step is not totally necessary, but it helps me create more complex drawings quickly. I like to draw over my construction lines with visible lines so that I can see exactly what I have. I can only draw visible lines on the parts of the object touching the outside of the box.

As you can see the item isn’t finished and looks a little skewed. But have not fear, we are in excellent shape. Our next step is to find the remaining missing lines. In this example, I have three missing lines. One that shows the inside corner of the “L,” one that shows the height of the “L” in the back, and another that shows how wide the “L” is in the back. In all honesty, this is the most complex part of this process. Depending on the part you may have to fill in many more lines to be able to create even more lines. Think of this step as detective work. You need to uncover lines that haven’t been created yet and determine where they are going to go. I find it fun, you may find it frustrating, but with practice, this is a skill that can be developed.

The final step is to connect the construction lines and make them visible.

And there you have it. An isometric drawing turned into a three-point perspective drawing in thirteen lucky steps. Below is a quick “timelapse” of all of the steps.

Closing Notes

Three-point perspective drawing is difficult. It takes time to establish this skill and it will require work. It’s not impossible but it does require that you follow a process. A simple rule of thumb is that all of the lines you see on the isometric should show up on the perspective drawing. This may not be true of all drawings, but as a general rule, you can use it as a beginner. When I started learning this process I literally put “X’s” through the lines on my isometric drawing when I made them visible lines on the perspective drawing. This tutorial is aimed at the engineering crowd but the same principles apply to any use of this type of drawing. Make sure to always work in pencil because mistakes will happen.

If you have any questions or suggestions please let me know.

Nathan Nagele

I’m a husband, father, and technology education teacher. I have a passion for creating videos and instructional materials that help students highly achieve.

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