One And Two Point Perspective In Drawing - What Is The Difference?
Updated: Jan 3, 2021
People often talk about perspective drawing. One point and two point perspective drawings are probably most talked about. I've wondered for a long time what the exact difference between these two is. Do you ask yourself the same question? You've come to the right place because I'll answer it right now.
What is the difference between one point perspective and two point perspective?
In one point perspective, all the lines that are not vertical or horizontal vanish into one point in the image. This point is often located in the middle of the picture but it can be anywhere. In two point perspective, all non-vertical lines vanish into two points of the same height at the border of the image.
So, perspective is used to depict three-dimensional objects in drawings, but when do you use which one in your drawings? Are there more perspective drawing types? Let's find out together in today's article.
I. The Differences Between One And Two Point Perspective
There are certain differences that can be easily represented in a simple list. That's why I will show you the major differences between the one point perspective drawing technique and the two point perspective drawing method in a simplistic comparison list.
1. One Point Perspective Drawing
Start with: Horizon line, shape
Vanishing Points: 1
All lines are:
Vanishing into VP (vanishing point)
2. Two Point Perspective Drawing
Start with: Horizon line, vertical line (often edge of an object)
Vanishing Points: 2
All lines are:
Vanishing into 1. VP (vanishing point)
Vanishing into 2. VP (vanishing point)
All of these points and more are shown in the video below. The creator of that video also talks about and shows you what the three point perspective is and what the certain characteristics of that method are. It's a really valuable and easy-to-follow video.
II. One Point And Two Point Perspective - When To Use Which
Where to use the two different perspective drawing types can clearly be differentiated but there are also areas where you can use both. Let's take a look at when to use one point, when to use two point perspective, and where you can use both techniques.
1. One Point Perspective
You often use one the one point perspective to certain parts of a building but mostly only interior parts of the building. What kind of building it is, doesn't matter. What matters, is that any kind of shape is in the foreground in the picture.
You can draw hallways, a kitchen, a living room, a bedroom, and literally any room you can imagine from inside a normal house. An office from the inside is also a great possibility to draw in one point perspective.
All of these examples are options where it makes the most sense to locate the vanishing point in the middle of the drawing. If the vanishing point was on the left or on the right edge of the paper, you weren't able to depict a whole room but only a part of it.
This is obviously also possible if that is your main intention. If your goal, however, is to portray an entire room or hallways, you should let all your non-vertical and non-horizontal lines vanish into a vanishing point in the middle of your artwork.
Remember to always start with a shape when you want to draw in one point perspective. This is always the first step when using this method.
Except for when there's only one vanishing point far away at the horizon!
A hallway, an office room or a kitchen should always be started with the wall you're looking at as the viewer. The wall, that has the flat shape of a rectangle. If you start with that and let the edges between the other walls, the floor, and the ceiling vanish into the middle of that wall, you're doing it right.
Of course, you also need all the other lines (maybe from a fridge, a desk or a picture at the wall) to lead to the vanishing point in the very middle of your work.
2. Two Point Perspective
In terms of two point perspective, you mostly see two subjects drawn in that technique.
On one side, we have a single architectural building, such as a modern mansion or a Renaissance-style hotel. Whatever building it is, it is very often depicted in two point perspective and most of all the two point perspective drawings there are overall are depicting single buildings.
Take a look at this architectural sketch from one of my first months I was learning how to draw. I started off with the "Zentangle" method, learned a lot about realistic drawing and for a few weeks, I just couldn't stop drawing buildings in perspective. I still love it!
It looks a little sloppy, I know but you have to start somewhere. Even if you're not satisfied with your first drawings, you need to keep going. Believe me, when I say that all the time, the effort, blood, sweat, and tears will pay off one day and you will be satisfied.
On the other side, we have blocks or whole cities. Multiple buildings all at once together in one image, mostly seen as if you were standing at a crossroads. However, you can also draw large areas from other angles.
You are also able to draw cities in two point perspective from above.
3. Both One And Two Point
Buildings from an outside view can not only be drawn using two vanishing points. It is definitely also possible to use only one vanishing point to depict single buildings and even entire streets.
You can use both, one and two point perspective for outside views on buildings because it depends on where you're looking at it from.
Where is the viewer of your building(s) standing?
You can clearly answer these questions in various ways. Either you want your building portrayed from the side and you want to show the viewer two sides of it or you want to emphasize especially one side of it that you want the viewer to look at directly.
Left image source: chrishilbig.com
Right image source: steemit.com
By that, I mean that you can put one side of a building or more buildings in the foreground by using the one point perspective. If you remember what I've said earlier, you know that you start with a flat shape when you have one vanishing point.
This flat shape can be the side you want to emphasize for the viewer.
If you don't want to emphasize one particular wall, however, you can use the common way to depict buildings. The two point perspective drawing method.
It's rather difficult to depict entire cites in one point perspective but it is definitely possible to do. Most pencil artists prefer two point or even three point perspective for large metropoles in their graphite artworks.
Other perspectives and their importance:
In product design, for example, it is also important to choose the right perspective. Now, we're not talking about the number of vanishing points anymore but about where the horizon line is located. Based on that an object can look entirely different.
This video best describes what I mean by that. Watch it and pay attention carefully if perspective in the area of product design is something you're interested in.
The creator of the video talks about whether you should depict an object slightly from beneath, slightly from above or even from far above. He explains how these different perspectives impact the viewer's perception of the depicted object.
III. All Perspective Types - A Short Overview
Today we've covered one and two point perspective in drawing but the question of how many types of perspective are there actually overall hasn't been covered as of yet. Let's do this really quickly and easily right now.
What are the types of perspective?
Many sources on the internet talk about a maximum of three different types of perspective in drawing, whereas there are in fact six different types. However, drawings with four, five and six vanishing points can only be rarely found online.
The following list shows all of the types of perspective drawing there are. It's pretty straight forward as you can see:
One point, two point, and three point perspective are often used as we've already discussed earlier throughout this article. Four point, five point, and six point perspective are a little more difficult to draw and aren't that useful to depict 3D objects.
You can find examples of these last three perspective types in drawing in another article on Mac H. - Creative. Check it out here in case you're interested.
IV. Related Questions
1. Do We See In Two Point Perspective?
We see things in different perspectives depending on what we're looking at. If you look at a wall in a room standing directly in front of it, you see in one point perspective. Looking at the edge of a house makes you see two point perspective and if you look at a corner in the room you're in right now, you have three vanishing points.
2. Can There Be More Than One Vanishing Point?
Yes, there can be more than one vanishing point. There are six different types of perspective reaching from one point two six point perspective meaning the number of vanishing points in the technique.