One Point Perspective - The Vanishing Point

Discovered by Leon Battista Alberti [1377 – 1446]

The Rules:-  

  1. Vertical lines must be VERTICAL
  2. Horizontal lines must remain HORIZONTAL
  3. All the other lines end at the VANISHING POINT.

A desired effect of drawing is to make the person looking at the picture believe what they see. A way of judging how successful an artist has been in trying to achieve this aim, is if the person looking at the picture wonders if it is a photograph or not.

An artist, whose work often makes people do this upon seeing his work for the first time, is Constable. Have any of you ever wondered?

Perspective plays a huge part in doing this; we know that the picture is on a piece of flat paper. The trick and that is what it is, a trick to make the mind through what the eye perceives believe what the artist wants you to believe.

This is referred to as the “Minds Eye” Where do you think we get this “Minds Eye “from?

As we grow through childhood we observe our surroundings and our brain logs our observations without us doing anything about this process.

So that when we see on paper what we would expect to see in reality we accept it as real, because it looks correct.

How to achieve this is what we are going to try today, Not only do things get smaller in width as they go away from us, they also get shorter.

How can we go about making our pictures look correct to the “Minds Eye”?

To achieve the correct balance of diminishing width and length we can use some simple geometry, as first discovered by Alberti .

We start with the vanishing point this is the dot to which all the lines that go away from the front of the drawing disappear into, the one point of the Perspective lines. These lines are the edges of roads, the guttering on houses, the white lines on roads, overhead cables, fences, walls, and many other everyday things that disappear into the distance, appearing to get smaller as they do.


Now carefully make six dots along the bottom edge of your paper each 30mm apart starting from the bottom left hand corner of the paper.

You should now have seven equal spaces, if you have been careful!

Now we need to place our disappearing point, and we want it to be like the drawing you have seen, in the very centre of the page 120mm from the bottom. You need to measure from either edge 105mm in and make a dot at the bottom of the paper and now do the same at the top. 

Now draw a feint line between these two dots. Measure up from the bottom of your paper along this line 120mm and put your ONE POINT DOT in place.

With your ruler again very carefully draw a feint line from each of the dots at the bottom of the paper to the One Point.

The next move is to measure up close to each side edge from the bottom of the paper 30mm and put a dot.

Now draw a definite line between these two dots staying within the two outside feint lines that you have already drawn. You should now have the first seven tiles drawn. That was easy was it not?

This is when the simple geometry comes into play, we now need to make our tiles reduce in length at the correct rate. To do this put your rule on the bottom right hand corner of the middle tile and draw a feint line from this point through the intersection of the centre line and the top end of the tile line. Continue this line until it reaches the line going from the third dot at the bottom to the One Point Dot.

This determines the length of the next row of tiles, and you need to draw a parallel line HORIZONTALLY between the two outside lines.

You have a choice of how you do this, either measure the distance from the bottom of the paper and place a small dot off to one side and then draw the next tile line in.

Or use a set square, which we don’t have today, but you may have available in the future.

Or draw another line from the bottom of the left hand corner again through the intersection with the centre line and the top tile line; this will give you two points through which to draw the next tile line.

From here on we repeat this procedure until we have ten tiles long.

What we have done is to produce a base that we can use to build a picture on; we can add walls, doors, windows, using our own minds eye to get them in proportion or in some cases the geometry again. You will find that if you apply the same procedure that we used to make the tiled floor look correct, the windows and many other things can be proportioned in the same manner.

I suggest that you think about what you would like to draw on your paper and then produce a picture unique to you.