What Is a Two Point Perspective? How We Can Apply It In Sketching And Painting?

As an artist, understanding perspective is crucial for creating realistic, three-dimensional scenes on a flat surface. One of the most commonly used types of linear perspective is two-point perspective. In this article, we’ll dive into what two-point perspective is, how it works, and how you can apply it effectively in your sketches and paintings.

How does a Two-Point Perspective work in a Nutshell?

Two-point perspective is a drawing method that depicts how objects appear to get smaller as they get further away, converging towards two vanishing points on the horizon line. It is often used when the subject is viewed at an angle, like the corner of a building.

The key components of two-point perspective are:

  • The horizon line – a horizontal line that represents the viewer’s eye level
  • Two vanishing points – located on either end of the horizon line, where receding parallel lines appear to converge
  • Orthogonal lines – parallel lines that travel to the vanishing points, depicting the sides of objects

To construct a basic cube in two-point perspective:

  1. Draw a horizon line and place two vanishing points on it
  2. Draw a vertical line between the vanishing points to represent the corner of the cube closest to the viewer
  3. From the top and bottom of the vertical line, draw orthogonal lines to each vanishing point
  4. Draw two vertical lines to connect the orthogonals, completing the cube

By extending the orthogonals and adding more vertical lines, you can build more complex structures like buildings and interiors. The placement of the cube relative to the horizon line impacts how it is viewed.

Two Point Perspective - Horizon Lines

Below the Horizon

When an object is placed below the horizon line, we see its top planes. To draw this:

  1. Follow the basic cube construction steps
  2. Extend orthogonal lines from the back corners to the opposite vanishing points
  3. Connect these with a vertical line to define the back of the cube
  4. The area between the front and back vertical lines represents the top plane

This setup is ideal for drawing objects viewed from above, like a bird’s eye view looking down at the scene.

Above the Horizon

Conversely, when an object is placed above the horizon line, we see its bottom planes. The construction is similar:

  1. Draw the basic cube above the horizon
  2. Extend orthogonal lines from the front bottom corners to the opposite vanishing points
  3. Connect these with a vertical line for the back of the cube
  4. The area between the orthogonals represents the bottom plane

This view is perfect for worm’s eye perspectives, where the scene is depicted from a low vantage point looking up. Think of dramatic shots looking up at towering skyscrapers.

Which Type of Perspective Should Be Used?

The type of perspective you choose largely depends on the scene you want to depict and the effect you’re going for. Here are some guidelines:

  • One-point perspective is ideal for subjects viewed straight-on, with one dominant face (e.g. buildings along a road, looking straight down a hallway). It emphasizes a strong focal point.
  • Two-point perspective works best when the subject is viewed at an angle, with two prominent faces (e.g. the corner of a building, looking into a room). It adds more dynamism and depth.
  • Three-point perspective is used for extreme bird’s eye or worm’s eye views, with three sets of orthogonals converging. It exaggerates height.

You can also combine different types of perspective within the same scene for more complex compositions. Experiment to see what best captures your artistic vision.


Can the vanishing points be located off the page/canvas?

Yes, the vanishing points don’t have to be within the picture plane. As long as they are on the horizon line extended, even if it continues off the page, it will work.

How far apart should the vanishing points be?

The vanishing points should be far enough apart to avoid distortion. If they are too close together, objects can appear stretched and unnatural.

What if I want to show more than two sides of an object?

For more complex views, you can use three-point or multi-point perspective, which involves additional vanishing points to depict the top/bottom planes at an angle.


Two-point perspective is a powerful tool for artists to create engaging, realistic scenes. By understanding how to construct basic forms above and below the horizon line, and knowing when to use different types of perspective, you can take your sketches and paintings to the next level.

The most important things to remember are:

  • Always start with the horizon line and vanishing points
  • Use orthogonal lines to map out the sides of your objects
  • Vertical lines define the edges and establish height
  • Choose the perspective type that best suits your composition goals

I encourage you to practice two-point perspective regularly, even if you just doodle cubes and buildings in a sketchbook. With time and repetition, it will become intuitive, allowing you to focus on unleashing your creativity. Perspective is the foundation for making your artistic visions come to life on the page or canvas.