How to Draw 2-Point Perspective

Midtown Manhattan, Madison Avenue and East 36th street full color photograph.

Maremagnum / Getty Images

Perspective in real life is a complicated affair. Most people can roughly sketch things so they look about right, but being very precise is tricky because objects are at all kinds of angles. So to help understand how perspective works, construct perspective using just one or two simple objects that are aligned in the same direction. When drawing freehand, you can translate this approach to drawing objects in your picture one at a time. You don't usually use detailed construction methods, but what you've learned from this approach will help you to know if your sketch is accurate.

So what does the subject look like when you're going to do a two-point drawing? In this type of perspective, you are viewing the object or scene so that you are looking at one corner, with two sets of parallel lines moving away from you. Remember that every set of parallel lines has its own vanishing point. To keep it simple, two-point, as the name implies, uses two points. Each pair of horizontals (the top and bottom edge of a building, box, or wall) diminish toward the left or right vanishing point, while the remaining set of parallel lines (the verticals) are still straight up and down.

It sounds a bit confusing, but you don't need to be able to explain it. Know how it should look, and by following the steps, you'll find it surprisingly easy to draw. Keep in mind that the verticals stay straight up and down, while the left and right sides get smaller toward a vanishing point.

  • 01 of 08

    Two-Point Perspective Drawing

    Box in perspective

    ThoughtCo / Helen South

    Here's a photograph of a box on a table. If you continue the lines made by the edges of the box, they meet at two points above the table, right at eye level.

    Note the extra space added around the image to fit the vanishing points on the page. When you draw two-point perspective, close vanishing points make your image look compressed, as though through a wide-angle lens. For best results, use an extra-long ruler and use wide paper from a roll or tape extra sheets to each side.

  • 02 of 08

    Make the Horizon Line and Vanishing Points

    Vanishing Point and Horizon Line

    ThoughtCo / Helen South

    Draw a simple box using two-point perspective. First, draw a horizon line about one-third of the way down your page. Place the vanishing points on the edges of your paper using a small dot or line.

  • 03 of 08

    Defining the Drawing

    Draw 2-Point Perspective

    ThoughtCo / Helen South

    Now draw the front corner edge of your box, just a simple short line like this, leaving a space below the horizon line. Don't put it too close, or you'll end up with corners that are tricky to draw. Although this step looks simple, take your time and ensure your lines are precisely drawn, so you don't end up with compounding errors as your drawing progresses.

  • 04 of 08

    Add the First Vanishing Lines

    Adding the First Vanishing Lines

    ThoughtCo / Helen South

    Now draw a line from each end of the short vertical line to both vanishing points, like this. Make sure they are straight, touch the very end of the line, and finish exactly at the vanishing point.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Draw the Corners

    Draw the Corners

    ThoughtCo / Helen South

    Now complete the visible sides of the box by drawing the corners, shown here with red lines. Draw yours likewise, making sure the lines are nice and square and at perfect right angles to the horizon line. 

  • 06 of 08

    Add More Vanishing Lines

    Add More Vanishing Lines

    ThoughtCo / Helen South

    The tricky part is drawing the back, hidden sides of the box. You need to draw two sets of vanishing lines. One set goes from the right-hand corner line (top and bottom) to the left vanishing point. Another set goes from the left-hand corner line to the right vanishing point. They cross over.

    Make sure you don't try to make any lines meet, don't draw lines to any other corners, and don't worry about any of the other lines they might pass through. Just draw straight from the end of each back line to its opposing vanishing point, as in the example.

  • 07 of 08

    Continue Building Your Box

    Constructing two point perspective

    ThoughtCo / Helen South

    Now you simply have to draw a vertical line from where the lower two vanishing lines cross to the intersection of the upper two lines (the red line in the example). Sometimes this can be tricky, as the slightest of errors can make them a little off-center. If this happens, either start again to make your drawing more accurate or make a "best fit," keeping your line vertical and fitting it between the corners as best you can. Don't just join the corners with a tilted line, because that will make the box misshapen.

  • 08 of 08

    Finish Your Drawing

    3D drawing

    ThoughtCo / Helen South

    Finish off your two-point perspective box by erasing the excess vanishing lines. You can erase the lines of the box that would be hidden by the closed sides or leave them visible if it is transparent. In this example, the top of the box is open, so you can see part of the back corner.