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Technical Drawing for Beginners: One Point Perspective

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One point perspective is one of the easiest perspective drawing styles available. The reason for this is that all lines lead to a single point, and regardless of how complex your object is, it's easy to realize when you've made a mistake, and just as easy to correct it.

Some Important Rules

Before we jump in, there are some important rules to keep in mind when drawing in one point perspective.

  • All vertical construction lines are parallel to one another;
  • All horizontal construction lines are parallel to one another;
  • Given the lack of a second and third vanishing point, this perspective relies on orthogonal construction lines;
  • This style of perspective, although convincing, is not always accurate.

When to Use One Point Perspective

Whenever you need to quickly present a concept of an object or a scene to another person, you're faced with two options: technical blueprints, or a perspective thereof.

Due to the simplicity of this style of perspective, you can quickly convey an idea in a convincing manner, without wasting too much time. Also, although not the most accurate means of perspective rendering, this style is very easily understood by the human brain, and hence also easily understandable by anyone, not just those that studied architecture or technical drawing.

Personally, I recommend using this style of perspective for the following scenarios:

  • Architectural interiors of long rooms,
  • Object concepts,
  • Concept art.
One Point Perspective Concept

Here you can see a rather quick sketch I did a few years back using the technique explained in this tutorial. I've opted for the "one point perspective" method, as I had no ruler at hand, and this was the easiest option available for freehand sketching.

Choosing Your Vanishing Point

Keep in mind that the position of your vanishing point is critical. The further away you move from the center of the canvas, the more biased your perspective will be to one side of the object.

Basically, your image is affected similarly to how your object's position, in relation to the horizon line, affects if you see the bottom or top side. If you go very far to your left side, and your object is located on the same side, you risk only being able to view two sides of your object instead of three.

This technique is best used for less important objects in your scene, such as boring walls... leaving the focus area as detailed as possible.

Less Than Ideal Placement of the Vanishing Point

Wrong Choice

As you can see, choosing a vanishing point on the same side as your object limits the sides you're able to render. Imagine if you'd have decided to also lift the box by a few centimeters!

That would basically leave you seeing a single face and no possible hint towards the volume of your object. In contrast, the image below displays a more appropriate vanishing point placement.

Good Placement of the Vanishing Point

Right Choice

Exercise

To ensure that you have a firm grasp of the basic concepts presented here, let's take a look at this quick exercise. This is overview of what we're about to do.

  • Start off by drawing yourself the base construction lines, and pick a vanishing point that is not perfectly centered on your canvas.
  • Define your rooms.
  • Identify the foreground object and create it based on your chosen vanishing point (in this case, a bookshelf).
  • Make use of all necessary construction lines to project the position and size of the shelves.
  • Render the visible side of the shelves using the previously established light values.
  • Further enhance your shading to better emphasize your scene.

You can use the same work flow for not just this exercise but others with one point perspective.

1. Create the Base Construction Lines

Step 1

Draw your basic construction lines, and keep in mind where the most interesting part of your composition will evolve.

You start off by drawing the base construction lines and picking a vanishing point

Step 2

Define your perspective, or better said, what your position as the viewer will be. In our case, we're right in front of our vanishing point.


2. Define Your Rooms

Step 1

Start defining your rooms by identifying one of the more distant walls.

Define a distant wall

Step 2

Identify how close you want to place your foreground wall. This will define how much room you have to play with in inserting your foreground object.

Identifying the front wall

Step 3

Define the most distant wall in your composition, to further enhance the depth of your final image.

Defining the furthest wall

3. Create Your Doors

Step 1

Extend two construction lines on your ground plane, to identify the correct width of your door openings.

Identifying door width

Step 2

Be sure to make use of temporary construction lines as often as needed, and isolate these on a single layer, which you can later make more transparent or hide altogether.

Extend the resulting width upwards, in order to identify the height of your doors.

Identifying door height

Step 3

Extend the resulting dimensions to identify the more distant door sizes and placement.

Further identifying Doors

Step 4

Remove the respective sections. In the below example, I've opted to double the opening width to allow us to see more of the second room.

Removing the wall sections for door placement

4. Define Your Walls, Ceiling and Floor

Step 1

Next up, create a floor. This step is crucial as it will help you add detail on the floor plane at a later stage, when the walls are already in place.

Creating your Floor Mask

Step 2

Create your walls, and separate them on a dedicate layer or set of layers. To give us a bit more room to play, in this step, I've decided to allocate a much larger wall for the closest room.

Defining wall proportions

Step 3

Create your ceiling. You do this by simply using the initial construction lines (on your left side), and extending the selection to the right margin of your canvas.

Creating the Ceilling

5. Draft Your Construction Lines for the Foreground Object

Step 1

Now that the basic surroundings have been defined, it's time to start focusing on creating the foreground object. We're aiming to create a bookshelf, and as such, we need to identify the width and length, on the ground plane for starters.

Start off on your Foreground Object

Step 2

With the construction lines extended across our composition, we now simply extend two parallel vertical construction lines, and connect them with another pair of parallel horizontal lines, to identify the height of our bookshelf.

Defining the height of our bookshelf

Step 3

We simply apply the same method to identify the nearest side of the bookshelf, and also to determine the length.

Defining the box volume of our bookshelf

Step 4

Now that the general volume of our object is defined, we can go ahead and identify some of the finer details, such as the position of our shelves.

Identifying shelf positions

Step 5

The horizontal lines allowed us to identify the position of our shelves. Extending a line from the point where these lines intersect their corresponding vertical lines, towards the vanishing point, allows us to identify the shelf length.

Identifying shelf proportions

6. Create Your Foreground Object and Add Shading

Step 1

Again, create a few masks and use a darker color to aid in identifying the respective faces further down the line. The more time you'll take to get your layers and folders organized, the less time you'll need to spend manually selecting these areas using the Polygon Lasso Tool (if using Photoshop).

Visually separating the Bookshelf from the surroundings

Step 2

You can go one step further and enhance the clarity of your lighting situation, by assigning different shades of grey to your object. Just keep in mind that it currently has no thickness, so don't spend too much time on this step.

Visually enhancing the lighting of your object

7. Add Width

Step 1

As everything is quite flat in this stage, we need to focus on adding a bit more depth. The main parts we want to enhance are: the walls and the foreground object.

We'll start by extending the external points of our door openings, towards the vanishing points.

Defining the doorway thickness

Step 2

Use the below construction lines to create the thickness. The same principle applies: the further away you move from your position, the less you need to focus on correct shading. Notice that the first doorway features two tones of shading, whereas the one a bit further only requires one to be visible and convincing.

Adding doorway thickness

Step 3

Now, using the same technique, we will identify the thickness of our bookshelf. The basic concept is to extrude your planes outwards. That means you're aiming to create parallel construction lines to the ones you used to initially identify your bookshelf dimensions.

Identifying Bookshelf Thickness

Step 4

Once you've drafted your construction lines correctly (talking about proportions mainly), you can move ahead and create the thickness on a new layer. Be sure to use the same shades as the one you previously opted for, so that your object is more conceivable for the viewer.

Visually separating your Foreground object thickness

Step 5

Now that our frame is visibly sturdy, we need to do something about the shelves. To create the construction lines and define the strength of these shelves, we'll be drawing three construction lines per shelf. The first one from the vanishing point towards the closest facing point of your shelf. Second one will define your shelf thickness, and should be a straight, short, vertical line. The third, similarly as with the frame thickness, should represent the extrusion.

Identifying Shelf Thickness

Step 6

Using our newly created construction lines, define the thickness using the same shade-scheme as with the frame.

Visually clarifying your

8. Create a Checkerboard Tile Pattern in Perspective

Step 1

Now that our foreground object and doorways have some added thickness, why don't we try enhancing our perspective with a nifty checkerboard pattern carpet for our second room?

Start off by drawing construction lines from your Vanishing point, towards the lowest margin of your canvas. Be sure to maintain equal distances between these lines. You can do this by using a ruler.

Creating a checkboard pattern in your second room

Step 2

Now simply create a series of parallel horizontal lines to intersect the previously drawn converging lines. Be sure to keep checking your proportions, and keep in mind that the closer you get to your vanishing point, the smaller the distance between these horizontal lines will be.

Defining the pattern

Step 3

Use these construction lines to select your checkerboard pattern, and on a new layer, fill the selection with a different, lighter color

We have a pattern!

9. Add Your Final Shading

Finally, as we took the time to organize our layers, folders and masks previously, now we only need a few extra layers, and some gradients to add the necessary shading. I've opted to darken the more distant rooms and keep shading to a minimal.

Add some shading

Great Work, Are You Ready for the Next Lesson?

Remember, the above style of perspective is mostly used for speeding up the rendering/drawing process. Absolute correct measurements are beyond the average usage scenario for a one point perspective, and a two-three point perspective is better suited for precision, but it also takes more time to complete.

Hope you enjoyed reading this, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to write in the comments below!

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