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One Point Perspective Drawing: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Is Perspective In Art?
  • 1:08 What Is One Point Perspective?
  • 1:59 One Point Perspective…
  • 2:58 Examples of One Point…
  • 3:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Maura Valentino

Maura has taught college information literacy and has a master's degree in library and information science.

Learn how the use of one point perspective adds depth and realism to drawings, and discover how artists from Leonardo Da Vinci to Vincent Van Gogh used it to create their masterpieces. Then test yourself with a short quiz.

What Is Perspective in Art?

You grab a pencil and begin sketching a stretch of railroad tracks. When you finish, you feel as if you could step into your drawing and walk down the tracks until you disappear. That's because your drawing has a great sense of perspective.

Sketch of Railroad Tracks

Artists use perspective to create convincing representations of our three-dimensional world on the two-dimensional surfaces of their drawings. When perspective is used effectively, objects in a drawing appear to recede into the distance, and they seem to exist in three-dimensional space. Perspective is one of the foundations of realism in art.

One of the most important innovations in the history of drawing was the development of linear perspective. Linear perspective is based on a series of guidelines and points that help artists create a realistic sense of depth in their drawings. There are several types of linear perspective including one point perspective, two-point perspective, and three point perspective. In this lesson, we will focus on one point perspective.

What Is One Point Perspective?

One point perspective is based on the concept that the lines and shapes in a drawing can be located in reference to a single line, called the horizon line, and a single point, called the vanishing point.

Image of Vanishing Point

The line is called the horizon line because it often is placed where the actual horizon is located in the drawing. It is also is called the eye level line because it represents the viewer's eye level in relationship to the drawing. The vanishing point is the point on the horizon line where lines in the drawing that are actually parallel in real life, such as the two rails of a railroad track, appear to merge when crossing the horizon line. Using the horizon line and vanishing point as references, artists can create convincing drawings of everything from simple cubes to complex architectural renderings.

One Point Perspective in Practice

Let's take a look at how one point perspective can be used to create a sense of depth in a drawing. Imagine you want to draw two cubes. Begin by drawing the horizon line. Place the vanishing point in the center of the horizon line.

Horizon Line and Vanishing Point

Next, draw the sides of the cubes that face you.

Front Face of Cubes

When using one point perspective, the side of an object that faces you is drawn using its undistorted, actual shape. In this case, the undistorted shape is a square. At this point, you have a simple representation of two cubes, but they're still really just two squares because your drawing has no sense of depth or perspective yet.

To give your drawing a sense of depth, draw the sides of the cubes that do not face you using lines that radiate outward from the vanishing point. These lines are called orthogonal lines.

Complete Cube Drawing

Once you have completed this step, the cubes in your drawing appear to exist in three-dimensional space, thanks to your use of one point perspective.

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