How to Draw Perspective: Applying Different Perspectives and Avoiding the Common Pitfalls

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Drawing in perspective is one of the most crucial skills for any aspiring artist. Because of this, most of us have some understanding of the different modes of perspective (1, 2, or 3-point perspective). However, do you know when to use the different modes of perspective or how to avoid misusing the laws of perspective in your drawings? Sharing with you some of the secrets from one of our teachers, Michael Solovyev’s new book The Lord of Illusions, we will show you how to get more out of your perspective drawings and how to apply proper technique.

The most important thing to remember when drawing in perspective is that it is all an illusion:

“When we try to depict something, we are not simply drawing an object or attempting to portray the world. We are trying to show the subject from the point of view of the observer.” (Michael Solovyev from The Lord of Illusions)

Hence, choosing the Vantage Point (or point of view), is an essential step in determining what type of perspective to use in your drawing. Luckily, there is a simple rule to determining when to use 3-point perspective and when 2-point will do.


“If the distance between you and the depicted object is more than twice its size, then even though the vertical lines seem distorted, you don’t really process what you see, and you can ignore the third vanishing point.” (Michael Solovyev from The Lord of Illusions)

That’s what makes this church look more realistic when rendered in a 2-point perspective:


However, if you wanted to achieve a more stylistic effect amd draw the church as though it were looming over the observer, almost like from the point of view of a child, you would use 3-point perspective.


Because 3-point perspective influences how we perceive the size of an object. This leads us to one of the most common pitfalls in perspective drawing: Overkill. The way that the church is depicted in 3-point perspective imposes an over-bearing mood. Giving it the impression of something large and colossal that is looming over the viewer. This can be an effective use of 3-point perspective when depicting large structures like a church. However, when applied to small objects it can give the misleading impression that the object is larger than it really it is.

Take for example these two pictures of cubes. Because of the use of 3-point perspective, it gives the first cube the exaggerated effect of something very large when in fact both cubes are roughly the size of a human hand.


3-Point Perspective



2-Point Perspective


So, now you know when to use 3-point perspective and when 2-point perspective will better suit your needs. But, what about 1-point perspective? What do we need 1-point perspective for if the world around us is 3 dimensional? To answer that question, let’s look at three drawings of the same room.

“When we look around us the three-dimensional world is in three-point perspective, but when we draw, we usually ignore the third vanishing point. We do this to make our drawings simpler and clearer. We can ignore the third [point of] perspective unless we are so close to the object that the distortion would be noticeable. And we use one-point perspective for one thing only, and that is when we are looking at the world or object head-on–from the front.” (Michael Solovyev from The Lord of Illusions)

When looking at this room, it is clear that we have to look at it head on, there’s simply no alternative and hence, should be rendered in 1-point perspective. Which makes it look like this:


If you were to then try and furnish the room using 3-point perspective you would get something like this:


Which ends up looking rather strange. Why? This is because the room in its entirety is one big cube and as such everything within that cube is subject to same laws. Since the room was constructed with 1-point perspective, everything within that room should also adhere to the rules of 1-point perspective, making it look like this:


There you have it. Now you know that:

1-Point Perspective – is used when looking at something head on.

2-Point Perspective – is used when the distance between the observer and the object is more than twice the size of the object. And to achieve a more naturalistic drawing.

3-Point Perspective – is used to depict the spacial distortion of large objects.

Now, you have the tools and the know how to start mastering your own drawings in perspective.


Michael Solovyev is an art director, illustrator, fine art painter and designer of architecture, theater sets and costumes. He has 12 years of professional experience, has won numerous awards and his fine artwork is featured in public and private collections in 10 different countries. For nearly a decade he’s been transmitting his classical European art education to up-and-coming artists through teaching engagements in Canada and in his native Russia.

To take a class with Michael like Urban Sketching in Perspective and others visit:

To buy a copy of Michael’s book The Lord of Illusions visit:

A little rusty on the basic fundamentals of perspective drawing? Check out our tutorial on perspective fundamentals here!

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