There is so much you can do when you understand the concept of simple single point perspective. I remember clear as day when it clicked for me. It just made sense. Recently I did a simple art class with young kids on the subject. We did things like make 3D letters, and optical illusions. That led me to make a step by step single point perspective drawing of a street, to help explain it, and hopefully it will just click with someone out there!
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Of course there are a number of books that teach perspective drawing, such as this one or this one.
I will start with the single point perspective drawing of a street and then add a few drawings that are a simple way to play with single point perspective.
Single Point Perspective Drawing of a Street
It all starts with a dot. The vanishing point.
You will need a ruler.
Basic Building Structure
You can see my purple little dot up above.
Next, pick a good spot for your first building. You’d need to draw the buildings that are up closer to you first. Then draw a nice vertical line. You will see throughout this lesson that I color code my lines: blue is for vertical. In a drawing such as this there are three directions for your lines: vertical (blue), horizontal (green) and moving towards the dot (purple).
Next is the bottom of the building. This building is so close up, you really can’t see it all, so it goes off the page. Take a ruler, and position it to connect the end of the blue line and the purple dot, then add a diagonal (purple) line.
Pick a spot for the next building, and again, draw a vertical line to indicate the edge.
Repeat the step with the ruler. Put it on the tip of your vertical line for the second building, then draw a line going from that tip towards the dot, ending where the building would end. Also, a horizontal line for the base of the building on the side that’s facing the viewer.
This building is further away, so we can see more of it. To draw the roof, put the ruler at where the blue vertical line would end on top, approximately, and then draw a diagonal line going to the dot, ending at the same level as the diagonal line on the bottom.
Connect the top and bottom of the building with another vertical line. Ta-da! Now you have a second building.
Draw a smaller vertical line for the third building, and two horizontal lines for the top and bottom of the building on the side facing the viewer.
Do the same for the third building. The side that’s facing the street gets two lines, one on top and one on bottom, both reaching for the vanishing point, and ending where the building ends.
In this step, I gave that last, third, building a vertical line, and started on the first building on the right. Now the right side will start with the building that is facing the viewer, so one vertical line, and the horizontal base.
As before, two diagonal lines reaching toward the vanishing point, and another vertical line for the end of the building.
Second building on the right gets a vertical line, and two horizontal lines for top and bottom.
Followed by two purple diagonal lines reaching for the vanishing point.
The third building on the right goes over the vanishing point, so the viewer would only be able to see the front of the building, and nothing on the side.
Windows, Doors and Other Fun Stuff
That is your basic building structure, now I add windows, doors and other fun stuff to bring it to life!
Windows and doors follow in the same direction as the buildings. If you are adding a door on the side that’s facing the viewer, it will consist of only vertical and horizontal lines. If the window or door is on the side facing the street, it will have vertical lines and lines moving toward the vanishing point.
First is a door on the street side of the first building on the left, and the door facing the viewer on the first building on the right. I added color coding to each line to make it easier to understand what is happening. Also, that little orange line on the door on the right is moving toward a different vanishing point that is outside the range of the page.
Adding details to the door on the left, carefully following the lines of the building.
Second building on the left now gets a window and a roof top.
OK! I got carried away here and forgot to take pictures. I highlighted everything I added. The most important part being that church steeple in the back. It is right where the vanishing point is, so it mostly gets horizontal and vertical lines.
Continuing with the details, I add the door on the front right building.
This door will get stairs. I drew three lines at equal intervals, all going toward the vanishing point, for the three steps that I will add. I also curved the top of the door.
Each step gets a horizontal line. The shortest on the top, the longest on the bottom. These three lines are the top of the steps.
Now I add each step, one at a time.
The trick is to keep horizontal and vertical lines parallel to each other, and keep in mind the lines that go to the vanishing point.
I erase all the unnecessary lines, and ta-da! I have stairs.
Now, on to more windows. Lots and lots of windows. Follow the lines of the buildings carefully. All the horizontal and vertical lines have to be parallel, and all the purple lines move toward the vanishing point.
Even more windows and doors.
Now is the fun part: trees, lights, flower pots. Stuff to decorate with and make it more alive. If you’d like to see how to draw a simple tree, click here, for a more complicated tree, go here.
Add even more: flower pots, flags, window frames, etc. It is your street, so you can add what ever you like!
Now here is the same version of the drawing, but this time with the lines color coded.
Finally, I added even more things: curtains, a cat and pavement stones. If you notice, the pavement stones all are made of lines that move toward the vanishing point, and horizontal lines. Coincidentally, you can use the image above as a coloring page.
Finally, I gave it all some color.
Fun Stuff To Do With Single Point Perspective
You could draw trees:
Random shapes bursting out of the page:
Three dimensional letters: