Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
Nsio explains: Perspective by Nsio Nsio explains: Perspective by Nsio
Seventh tutorial in my Nsio explains series. I'm finally talking a little about the infamous perspective. You can't really get away from it.

Consider this as my Christmas present to the dA community! :D

Isometric vs. perspective, 2D vs. 3D:
I guess everyone knows how to draw a cube at least to some extent. The question is whether that cube has successful depiction of three dimensional illusion.

I, for one, drew a lot of cubes in isometric projection and I thought it was three dimensional. But it's not. In fact, it looks very weird, if you think about it. You may look at this example as well:… . In orthogonal projections, the sides of the cube are always parallel. And in a sense, it's right, the sides of the cube needs to be parallel so that it would be a cube. However, the sides aren't parallel at all in perspective drawing. The cube is skewed, but for us, it looks even more like a cube than before. 

Our brains won't bother processing this skewed look around us, because it doesn't have to. You simply know that thing which actually looks skewed is a cube with right angles and straight sides. That said, you don't probably even realize how weird and distorted the world looks around yourself. And when you attempt to draw a cube, you might draw an isometric projection of it and call it 3D, because that's how it really is right? Well, while it's true, it's not what we actually see when we look at a cube in three dimensional space. So in order to draw a successful illusion of three dimensions, you have to draw the cube "wrong" in order to make it look like how we would see it in reality.

I understand the difference between 2D and 3D as I have drawn in my examples. If the cube drawing is truly 3D, there shouldn't be any doubt about the orientation of it's faces. However, if you draw and isometric cube, there are two possibilities: there is either normal cube or inverted cube. The faces of the cube can either face outwards or inwards. You can force your mind to see an inverted image of three dimensional cube, but if you can do that, you will see something totally weird and your brains can't probably comprehend what it is seeing. When I do this, I see the cube "inflating" back to normal the moment I see it inverted.

As a big fan of optical illusions, I suggest looking at this illusion too:… . Pay attention how the guy is sitting on the stairs.

Why things look small at distance?
Because they are far away? True, but I have a bit different way to approach this question. I understand this phenomenon trough field of vision. You see, you could consider that our eyes are the point of a hollow cone and the field of vision expands as the cone gets larger. When you look very far, the cone has extended very far too. Now, if you place a wall right in front of you, your field of vision can't accommodate that wall, so it appears very large and you can't see anything else. If you step back, you eventually begin to see the surroundings around the wall. The wall appears to have shrunk before your eyes. If you keep walking backwards, the portion of the surrounding get larger in comparison to the wall. Finally, the difference between the surroundings and the wall that fill your field of vision is so great, that the wall basically disappears from your view. And despite becoming so small that it's hardly visible, it's size is still the same.

They Eye-level:
(You may know the term of horizon. It's good to note that when we talk about horizon in perspective, it's not necessarily the same as the physical horizon!)

When you are about to draw a perspective, you need to decide where the intended beholder is located and where she is looking at. The horizon of the perspective determines the eye-level. Then the position of the objects in relation to the horizon determine how the beholder sees the scene. For example, if the beholder's eyes are close to the ground, the objects dominate the topside of the horizon and usually the horizon is placed rather low on the canvas (the position of the horizon on the canvas doesn't really matter, but if you are going to draw a lot of sky, you will want to draw it rather low to actually be able to show the sky).

It's good to note that when a person (or any object) farther away and a person (or any object) with same height are seen at the same time, the horizon cross them exactly at the same place. That said, if you draw a person so that the horizon line crosses him around the chest, then all persons with the same height farther away also have the horizon line around their chest.  When you have persons with different heights, then it will get a bit trickier, but it's still can be done by following the same principles. Be careful when you place people in perspective. Failing to follow the rules will result in rather interesting effects. The same person may appear as a dwarf or a giant depending on how you draw him in relation to the horizon!

Drawing Perspective:
In order to draw a successful perspective, you will need to know how the things get skewed according the perspective. For that, you will need to know how to use the horizon, vanishing point(s) and perspective guidelines. When you are drawing perspective, you will use these tools to construct convincing perspective. (Note, I'm not going to explain how to actually construct a perspective, but rather explain the idea behind the perspective).

To put it short:
1)The horizon line determines the eye-level
2)The vanishing point is located on the horizon line (as the name suggest, things disappear at the vanishing points, just like I told about the field of vision earlier).
3)The guidelines meet at the vanishing point (These determine the direction towards the vanishing points, so that you know how to skew your drawing).

As the name suggests, there is only one vanishing point in this perspective. It's most often located directly in front of the beholder. This kind of perspective suits mostly on indoor corridors or in some street views. But in general, this perspective is rather limited: the farther you go from the vanishing point in any direction, the perspective becomes distorted. Note, that all vertical and horizontal lines are parallel, only the lines going towards the vanishing points aren't.

This perspective kind of fixes the issue mentioned in one-point-perspective. Now there are two vanishing points and only vertical lines are parallel. This kind of perspective is pretty useful for many scenes already. The higher or lower you go from the horizon, the more distorted the drawing becomes.

Placing the vanishing points too close to each other is the most common perspective mistake. If you are drawing a house on A4 paper, the vanishing points are far outside the paper boundaries. If you draw the vanishing point within the paper, you respectively need to draw the object in perspective smaller.

Third vanishing point isn't added on the horizon, but above or below instead. Now none of the lines are parallel. This eliminates the distortion in vertical axis to some extent. This perspective allows the beholder gaze up to the sky or downwards. Note that you can't get both, because the perspective guidelines will cause the tremendous distortion the farther you go from the third vanishing point.

The third vanishing point is often placed very far from the horizon. The farther it is from the horizon, the more subtle the vertical skewing is.

The Fisheye perspective:
All the three methods thus far make use of straight lines. When fourth and fifth vanishing points are introduced, there are no longer straight lines. This is due to fisheye effect taking place which causes all the lines curve. This is pretty tricky to construct, but that's very close to how we actually see the things around us (… this is where I grabbed the spherical perspective grid).

The problem with perspective drawing is the fact that you can only draw what's in front of you. In perspective drawings, the beholders view is sort of "locked" so you can't look what's on the left or right . There is six-point perspective, where the sixth vanishing point is located behind the beholder and it's possible to draw 360 degree view of the scene. This is already getting so ridiculous, that it's not really worth the trouble. Besides, I believe it's possible to draw perspective close enough without  constructing the perspective. Even though I'm saying this, it's still crucial to know how the things I have explained work in order to draw the perspective right.

When I draw perspective, I rarely really construct them. Instead, I'm imagining how I would see the scene around me if I was to look around. Remember, that you can't draw the guidelines randomly in any perspective. You will still need to know how the objects looks from certain point of view. That said, I'm trusting more my own eyes and use the guidelines only when I really need them. 

So to get started with a perspective drawing, I usually draw some sort of reference object first. I'm not really thinking the angle at this point, I'm just drawing an object that looks three dimensional. When I have drawn this object, I will begin to "look around" the canvas. I'm trying to see the "where" I had drawn the reference object in relation to the beholder. And that's how I keep working on the drawing, finding the relations between the elements according to the reference object and the beholder. I may still use the guidelines every now and then, but mostly I'm just trying trust my understanding of how I will see the objects around me.

Same goes with basically anything I draw. When I draw human characters, I usually draw them as if they were rather close to the beholder. That's why the feet are seen from above. And if they eye-level is around the waist, then the head is seen from below. It's also good way to show the height of the character in relation to the beholder, as shorter characters need to look upwards and taller characters downwards in order to look the beholder's face. This then can be used in manga to help the reader feel like she was part of the story.

Foreshortening has a lot to do with the perspective, but I decided to leave it out for now.
Add a Comment:
fivemnt2midnight Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2015  New Deviant Student Digital Artist
amazing ... thx so much
theAZscorpio Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2015  Professional Filmographer
Great tutorial! thanks for posting
RenaRouchon Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2015  New Deviant  Photographer
Like I said I'm not sure if I'm posting right or even how to check your response but I'll figure it out, what class did u take this in? Great work and an amazing artist to say the last.
Nsio Featured By Owner Edited Aug 20, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I studied architecture at the university, although I gained most of this knowledge from various tutorials and self-studies.
RenaRouchon Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2015  New Deviant  Photographer
I've went to school as well but the best stuff I do is self taught 4 sure.
noob0saibot32 Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2015
excelente gracias.
Eraezr Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
ghost-nerdy Featured By Owner May 8, 2015  Student General Artist
thank you for this 
LilietBorodina Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2015
There's also the 'microscope vs telescope' thing, that I really felt during a recent viewing of a 3D movie: during certain scenes, characters looked really small (relative to me, the observer) instead of far away.
I remember from 3D drawing programs that basically the closer you are, the more exaggerated perspective is; the further you are, the less it is noticable. It was mentioned in the tutorial with the table, but there wasn't really a detailed explanation of close vs big and it would be really cool to have one: I know these scattered bits of theory but as an artist I kind of just semi-randomly flail around tbh...
AbyssalSerpent Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2014   Writer
Thanks so much for this tutorial, it really helps make perspective easier to comprehend. Also, nice touch on using basic geometry to explain proportions in perspective!
Zechary3 Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
nice insight
ShinigamiRyuku Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2014
Great tutorial.
Artgoondojo Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2014
Am  I the only one that wants to ask for you to do foreshortening as well ? lol Great tutorial I always like tutorials from other artist because I get to hear their artistic understanding of things .
Nsio Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
If you haven't noticed, I have already done foreshortening tutorial ;)
Artgoondojo Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2014
I didn't I should have checked first lol . So embarrassing but I will check it out thanks for the reply !
DarkSelfie Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2014  Student Filmographer
Awesome tutorial.
marceydevimon78 Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
prabhurams Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
this is so awesome ! wished all the works were put into a book ! 
ajtakashi Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Amazing. Now it makes sense. Only I still can't draw that way -_-
AuroraArt Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Thank you for sharing! :wow:
Onyana Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Super helpful! Thank you KFC Chicken Dance (Want some) [V1]  Anime Emoji (Oh yay dance) [V2] 
kirbrina Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2014  Hobbyist Filmographer
Thank you very much for this tutorial!!
NobleCrimson Featured By Owner May 30, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ah I see how the Fisheye works now. I was taught to visualize point e only in the Fisheye section. If things are bending, I think the earth's core is the dominant point to cause the fisheye. I got this idea from watching how bullets look like the fly straight until you actually see they always curve.

 Like Kenshiro7, I have similar goals. I mine is to compete with this series from America.…
Krissy-Theh-Otaku Featured By Owner May 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Er Mah Gerd! I learned about Perspective in school but i would have never known to use it like this!Squee Bounce 
AliceSacco Featured By Owner May 25, 2014
I'm practicing right now on those things. Is almost one month.
Luckily perspective is quite fun to do for me. Maybe because I see object becoming 3d.
Most people find it boring, or even scary.

At school I had problems in perspective, not because I was bad at it. Given exercixe come out well (no miskakes), but I didn't understand why. When you do things wrong, somebody will correct you and you learn, but when things come out right while having no experience, it doesn't mean anything if you don't understand things, while I wanted to understand how perspective really worked. Also I realized that one and two point perspective doesn't look like the way we see, but I could not tell how. In fact for long time I could not draw volumes, my drawing were cardboard.

Now to try to understand perspective, I experiment, I try perspective that are above my level (like fish eye perspective).
It make things easier.
suppercat95 Featured By Owner May 10, 2014
This is really helpfull! Thanks!
Black-Card Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2014
This is so much to take in, I don't know if I'm cut out for this
Nsio Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It can be rather mind twisting. Just reading it trough won't help you much, but when you keep drawing enough, everything will dawn to you eventually. When that happens, you will wonder why you didn't realize it earlier. This happened to me at least. :D
Black-Card Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2014
Yeah, I figure I was probably reading too much and trying to apply everything now.

BTW, Do you know any references for drawing breasts upside down?  I'm having a hard time imagining it and it just feels....awkward..
Nsio Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yeah, that's likely. It's not possible to understand everything on spot. In fact, I had false knowledge about perspective before I understood how it works. I had not truly understood the vanishing points and guidelines. Now that I know how things work in 3D, vanishing points and guidelines make a lot more sense.

I don't know any better references than quality hentai mangas for that. Then another problem is to find such a manga with such pose... not to mention a good one. You can also try looking for nude women pics for reference.
Black-Card Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2014
Yeah, but taking into account in where I am, all the usual sites are actually blocked by the government lol. But I think I might have some manga with that kind of pose.

i had a question about lines as well but I'll note you about that if that's okay with you
Nsio Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ah, that's such a shame.

Sure, go ahead. I'll see if I have time to reply.
KaraSkakalac Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2014  Student Digital Artist
You make awesome tutorials, thanks so much!
xFenne Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is the best perspective-tutorial I've ever seen. Thank you so much for putting your time and effort into this. It has helped me a lot. (^o^)/
beverade Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
You man, you are ...... amazing! I love the way you explain things!
adrianbross Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2014
GuardiPyro Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2014
So, it's better to draw in fisheye perspective?
Nsio Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Basically yes.

However,  one-, two- and three-point perspectives are useful as long as the drawing doesn't extend over the limits (so that distortion won't occur). Their good point is that they're easier to construct than the fish-eye perspective.
Mikriluna Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2014
How do you create the perspective lines? Is there some special feature on PSD?
Nsio Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm using paint tool SAI and it's vector lines to draw the guidelines. PS has vectors as well (Line tool), though I don't know if they are as versatile as in SAI. I use vectors because they can be edited anytime and the lines are always straight.
Dude980 Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2014  Student General Artist
Also, I find that it is much easier to see the wall on the right as the floor (in your example image) if you change the cylinder to a cube (rectangular prism) in your mind. 
Dude980 Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2014  Student General Artist
Very useful stuff, thank you for this. I appreciate what you do for your fellow artists and even though some (if not most) of the description appears in the image part of the tutorial I always read the entire thing. I've been through all the previous ones and I think foreshortening is your most recent if I'm not mistaken. So, one more to go, and of course hours and hours of practice. 
Nsio Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks, good to hear you find them useful :)
Maylicious Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you very much for this tutorial full of potential! I stared about 15mins on the Inverted perspective thingy,
I really forced myself to switch from deep perspective to outside one xD It was quite a weird feeling I had there!

I have been having so many troubles with perspective in my drawing, So much that I don't even dare to draw any..
I hope this will really unblock this "background-with-perspective-art-block" I have because I only draw really simple background with no structure :l ...

 I have also seen your tutorial about anatomy and dynamism,
I really love them I since I am far from being perfected in these (well It's not ugly but I feel like there's always something wrong...)
, I will look up to you (: !

 Thank you once again sensei, keep up the good work 'v' /
Nsio Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Haha, it's quite fascinating, inverted perspective that is :D

Since I'm studying architecture, I get to work with 3D modeling programs quite a lot, so my understanding regarding perspective comes there. You will just need to have the courage to try drawing some perspectives yourself and then analyse why they end up wrong. For example, you may be drawing the character on the foreground in a way that it's not physically possible for her to be in your background (for example, wrongly positioned background may make the character look like she had her legs under the ground surface, although they weren't visible).

You are closing to your artistic awakening. If you can sense that there is something wrong in your drawings, then it's very likely that there is. Do a lot of self-analysis and study great artists to see why they draw things in a certain way.

You're welcome. Keep up the spirit :)
TheAC Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
All the stuff I learned in school, but need touching up on x.x as I've been working like a sad, sad drone. Thanks for taking the time to put these up!
tkgmalice Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
your tuts are amazing. thank you so much.
Little-Pinkey Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
THIS IS AWESOME... but it makes me dizzy. However I think I've got the general idea. Than you very much for teaching us all.
My only concern is the very beginning, I don't fully understand what you mean by 2D. 
Thanks again! This is fascinating and extremely helpful as it teaches you exactly how to figure out perspectives!
Nsio Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you! This tutorial is so full of information so I'm not surprised. Perspective has so much things to consider, that making an all-inclusive tutorial is quite a challenge.

You see, the world we live in is three dimensional (3D). However, the drawing surface is two dimensional(2D) because you can only draw on it, but not "above" or "below" it. That said, anything you draw on paper will be locked in two dimensions.

Now, the difference between 3D and 2D is the fact that 3D has depth. So to draw something look 3D on 2D surface, you will need to draw it "wrong" to simulate the third dimension. While the drawing is still locked in two dimensions, the distortion allows the illusion of depth to be seen. The drawings I labelled as "2D" have no depth. They are drawn right, but that's not how we see things in three dimensional space. The examples there are trying to illustrate the difference between two dimensional and three dimensional drawings. I see the difference like this: a 2D cube can be seen both normal and inverted, but 3D cube can only be seen normally. Twisting your perception to see 3D cube inverted makes the cube look so out of this world that it doesn't make any sense.

I hope this could explain it in more detail :)
Little-Pinkey Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
OH! :wow:
I just got it! Thank you so much! I see what you mean. Those planes at the very beginning were drawn differently, hence the difference in perception! Thank you very much! I apologize for my lack of understanding. I am seeing what you are trying to get at. Thanks again!

Oh I have two questions about the cubes you drew with that interesting paper person sticking out of them:
1. What is the purpose of the paper person, seeing it really confused me (I'm sorry and you've already helped me before)
2. The cubes are all the same cube, just with different sides shaded and different edges drawn more thickly than other right? 

Thanks again, I apologize for my many questions, it would appear I have a poor understanding of the comparison and contrast in the beginning, however the rest was crystal helpful and I will most definitely be referring to it regularly!
Add a Comment:


Submitted on
December 24, 2013
Image Size
2.4 MB


79,655 (10 today)
4,849 (who?)