Three Point Perspective

Three Point Perspective: Mastering Depth and Dimension

Taking your artwork to new heights—quite literally—requires the understanding and application of three-point perspective. As you move from two-point perspective, adding a third point can seem daunting, but it is an essential skill for artists wanting to create dynamic and realistic representations, particularly of tall structures or wide landscapes viewed from a high or low angle.

This guide is here to help you understand and master three-point perspective, clearly explaining its key elements, and offering advice on how you can apply it effectively to your own drawings.

What is three point perspective?

three point perspective example

In a nutshell, three-point perspective is an extension of linear perspective in which three vanishing points are used in a drawing as guides to create a realistic representation of depth and perspective. This form of perspective is widely used to represent a more extreme viewpoint, where the viewer is either looking up at the object from a low angle or looking down from a high angle.

Linear Perspective

The significant elements of three-point perspective include the horizon line and three vanishing points. Similar to both one-point and two-point perspectives, the horizon still represents the viewer’s eye level. The additional third vanishing point, usually located above or below the horizon line, is where the vertical lines appear to converge when viewed from a high or low angle.

Drawing with three-point perspective

Three point perspective

Start by marking your horizon line and placing your three vanishing points—two along the horizon and one either above or below it, depending on your viewpoint. The third point radically changes the view, creating a sensation of height or depth.

Next, draw a line from the third vanishing point to define the vertical edge of your building or object. From the endpoints of this line, draw lines to the other two vanishing points on the horizon. These create the sides of your object or building.

It’s crucial to remember that in three-point perspective, all lines will converge to one of the three vanishing points.

Three point perspective applications

Gustave Caillebotte: Rue Halevy, Seen from the Sixth Floor

Artists often use three-point perspective when portraying towering structures, such as skyscrapers or trees, viewed from a low angle, or wide landscapes and cityscapes viewed from a high vantage point. This technique enhances the illusion of depth and scale, making the viewer feel as if they are peering down from a mountain top or looking up at an imposing building.

Three point perspective tips & tricks

  • Placement of the third vanishing point is critical. Putting it farther away will lessen the effect, while bringing it closer will intensify the perspective.
  • Start by drawing simple objects such as boxes or pyramids to practice.
  • Sketch out your composition before you commence your final drawing to help construct accurate orthogonals.
  • Use vanishing points and the horizon line as guides to add details and create a genuine sense of space.
  • Remember, distant objects will appear lighter and less detailed, which enhances the sense of depth. This effect is called atmospheric perspective.
  • Above all, practice makes perfect. Continue experimenting with three-point perspective to refine your skills and expand your artistic toolbox.