Three Point Linear Perspective

This is a comprehensive explanation of 3 point linear perspective, that distills the most essential elements.

30 min. video

Hear a concrete breakdown of the process, including how to apply these skills into the context of an artwork, without your piece looking like a boring series of cubes in space!

Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu.

3 point linear perspective

Video Walkthrough

  • Linear perspective shows a specific point of view of a person who is in the space.
  • Always think about being a person inside the space, and where your location is in relation to the structures in that space.
  • 3 point perspective is a very dramatic, extreme point of view.
  • Think about yourself in 3 point perspective as a bird who is hovering over a scene, or a worm who is on the floor looking upwards.
  • It’s important to understand how 1, 2, and 3 point relate to each other, and how they are distinctly different from each other as well.
  • In 3 point, the vanishing points are usually off the canvas.
  • 3 point perspective is really not that big of a leap from 2 point perspective.
  • The leap from 1 point to 2 point perspective is a lot more dramatic and tougher to make art first.
  • Try to notice where you see 3 point perspective in real life.
  • You can’t draw 3 point perspective if you can’t recognize it!
  • 3 point perspective can be seen on a very small scale (a chair) or also on a grand scale like a skyscraper.
3 point linear perspective

Prof Lieu’s Tips

Clara cartoon

When it comes down to it, linear perspective is simply connect-the-dots. Many people make linear perspective waaaaay more complicated than it needs to be, keep it simple!

3 point linear perspective

A mistake I see is when people teach linear perspective too abstractly.

Not only is it super boring to just draw floating boxes with square windows, but I do really think getting from that to an actual drawing is tough for people to do.

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Reference Photos

Films & TV shows mentioned

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