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One or Two Point Perspective Some Insights

Art Tip
Seeing the Perspective In a Scene
 Is it One Point or
Two Point Perspective?
Last month we discussed how to find the horizon line in a scene. Being aware of the horizon line is the first part of understanding how to draw and paint a scene. Okay but then what!? The next part is to be able to identify if the scene is in One Point Perspective or Two Point Perspective. It is essential to understand that as parallel lines move away from us the lines converge at a vanishing point. Like a straight stretch of highway diminishing miles into the distance at a point on the distant horizon.

The point where the highway converges on the horizon is called a “Vanishing point.” Vanishing points are always on the “Horizon Line.”

This is why you can find a horizon line by following the converging lines in a scene to the “Vanishing point” because Vanishing Points are always on the Horizon Line.
Let’s discuss the difference between “One Point Perspective” or “Two Point Perspective.” We will start with cubes and the viewer’s “Line of Sight.”
We will Use a Cube to Discuss One Point Perspective
Why Use a Cube!?
Cubes can easily be modified into all kinds of cars, vehicles, and buildings. If you can see the box or cube and or the scene’s perspective it will be easier to draw and paint it.
All kinds of problems occur when we are unaware of the perspective we are viewing.
Line Of Sight
When you are looking at something or a scene envision a line stretching from your cornea straight ahead in front of you. This is called your Line of sight. The illustration below shows a man from above a bird’s eye view. He is looking straight ahead as indicated by his Line of Sight. One cube is perpendicular to the man’s line of sight and the other cube is turned so it’s corner is facing the man’s line of sight. The cube that is perpendicular to the line of sight is in “One Point Perspective.” The cube that is turned with its corner towards the man’s line sight is in Two Point Perspective.
One Point Perspective
One Point Perspective
Always Has
“Just One Vanishing Point”
With One Point Perspective, you are always making one of three lines. Either VerticalHorizontal, or a Line Drawn to a Vanishing Point. If you look at the depth lines. You can take the lines and draw them out until they converge and they converge on the Horizon Line at the One Point Vanishing Point.
One Point Perspective Diagram
This illustration shows the basic procedure for creating boxes in one-point perspective.
One Point Perspective Scenes
Sometimes we aren’t dealing with boxes at all but planes like this road that converges to a point on the distant horizon.
Note: The city scene below shows a corner that is at a 45-degree angle because of this the angle doesn’t conform to the vanishing point. The lines going to the vanishing point are 90 degrees to the horizontal lines. So a 45-degree angle won’t go to this vanishing point. We won’t discuss this now but I wanted to point it out either ignore it or ask me about it in one of my classes.
Cityscapes are Boxes, Boxes, and More Boxes! 
The buildings are just varying sized boxes.
Looks For and Find
the Converging Lines
In the scene below follow the depth lines to the horizon line to find the One Point Perspective Vanishing Point. 
We Can Modify the Perspective
to Make it Easier
This scene below shows a barn that is close to One Point Perspective view though it is really a very soft Two Point Perspective view. As an artist you always want to simplify. So instead of trying to draw the barn in Two Point Perspective I straightened out the barn into One Point Perspective. One Point is far simpler than two-point so why not make it easier. below I show the barn drawn with either a Vertical Line, a Horizontal Lines, or a Line Receding to a vanishing point.

Note: For those of you who noticed the roof doesn’t conform to either a line that is vertical, horizontal or receding to a vanishing point you are correct. We will talk about drawing roofs next time.
Two Point Perspective
Two Point Perspective
“Has Two Sets of Vanishing Points”
With Two Point Perspective, you are always making one of three lines. Either a Vertical Line, a Line Receding to the Left Vanishing Point, or a Line Receding to the Right Vanishing Point. With the Depth lines you can take the lines and draw them out until they converge on the Horizon Line at vanishing points to the Left or to the Right.
Two Point Perspective Diagram
This illustration shows the basic procedure for creating boxes in two-point perspective.
Two Point Perspective Scene
These photos show scenes that are two-point perspective scenarios. 
Many times the vanishing points are outside the picture frame.
Painting of a Barn in Two-Point Perspective. Do you see the converging lines? They are very soft but they are there.
The Bottom Line
So when you are drawing or painting a scene. Identify if you are looking at one-point perspective or two-point perspective. With One-point perspective, everything converges to a single vanishing point. With Two-Point perspective, the objects in the scene have lines that recede to either a right or left vanishing point. If you have more questions about perspective join me for a drawing or painting class. More at

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