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Freehand Perspective Drawing Tutorial

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By AdamMasterman   |   
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© 2012 - 2020 AdamMasterman
Another tutorial, my first that actually deals with drawing skills. I tried to keep this very concise, more pictures than words, so there might not be as much information as should be. Hopefully its still helpful, and I'm always happy to clarify stuff, just let me know.

BTW, this tutorial is almost, but not quite, for beginners. It assumes some basic exposure to linear perspective, and is designed to help people get more comfortable with perspective, and find new and better ways to use it.

Edit: Wow, much thanks for the great positive response to this. If I had known this was going to see this much traffic, I would have checked my spelling more carefully. I was debating making a part two dealing with curved perspective; which I'll definitely try to get done in the next few weeks. Thanks for all your comments, apologies if I don't respond; you folks have flooded me.

Edit 2: Wow, a DD... now I REALLY wish I had checked my spelling and grammar. Thanks for the comments and faves, everyone; really glad to hear that this has been helpful. I've learned so much from all the great tutorials here on dA, so hopefully this pays some of that forward a little bit. And thank you to :icond-kiddo: and :iconmoonbeam13: for the nod; very appreciated.
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Comments241
anonymous's avatar
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grrfluudy's avatar
grrfluudyHobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much for your tutorial.! This is absolutely amazing! I’ve been searching all week for a good book to teach me perspective or a tutorial online and have found nothing as straight forward and helpful as this. Seriously! I read it and went, “ok, NOW I get it!” I really wish I would have searched on Deviant Art first. I can’t wait to try it out!
AdamMasterman's avatar
You're welcome, glad it's helpful. :)
ActionKiddy's avatar
Hey! This is really amazing!! I was wondering if I can ask a quick question...

I'm struggling with creating scenes...when I draw the background first it's hard for me to place characters for some reason...but when I draw characters first I have to do a lot of corrections to them later.....
so my question is do you draw characters or backgrounds first? Or do you sketch both?
AdamMasterman's avatar
Hmmm... Well, there are probably several ways to do it. One thing I sometimes do is draw a horizon, and then put my figures in, and then flesh out the environment. If your horizon intersects one figure at the waist, for example, it will intersect all figures at the waist. So you can draw big, near-ground figures, and tiny far away figures, and if you line up one part of the body with the horizon (the same part for all the figures), then the perspective for them all will be correct. Then, if you place your vanishing points on that same horizon, the scene's perspective will match that of the figures.

Another thing I do, especially with interiors, is try to reference something in the background to figure out the correct relative height. That sounds jumbled; let me try to explain: it all depends, again, on the horizon/eye level. You need to locate that for your scene, and ideally build your scene with it. Then, with a fully drawn scene, I look at exactly what height the horizon is. Maybe there is a desk, and the horizon is right at the surface of the desk. On a person (adult), that desk comes up about to the hip, so I draw the figure with it's hip lined up on the horizon. If the horizon is lower, running through maybe an electrical socket new the floor, then I draw the figures so that their ankle lines up with the horizon. The rest of them will probably not line up with background reference points, but so long as they do at the horizon, it should work.

Anyway, that's two ideas off the top of my head; let me know if that helps (or not). :)
ActionKiddy's avatar
I think I understand! Thank you so much for taking the time to reply back to me ~ I really appreciate it!
^_^ I'm going to try these techniques right now!
rodsmith23's avatar
rodsmith23Professional Artist
I will use this.
Urusainow's avatar
UrusainowHobbyist Digital Artist
This helped me a lot, I see perspective as an easier thing now and am not anymore afraid to try it! thank you v much
AdamMasterman's avatar
Glad to hear it!
kellyHigurashi's avatar
 You know I really hate the perspective is a pain in my ass, but you help me a lot thanks ;) (Wink) 
Lucernne's avatar
Great tutorial, easy to follow, very clear, perfect for beginners! Helped me a lot. Thanks for your good work!
starryeyed-nz's avatar
starryeyed-nzHobbyist Traditional Artist
Fabulous! I knew about perspective, but never thought about doing it so simply with though rough grids. Very helpful, thank you.
rawiolo's avatar
Wow good Thanks
Hovestiek's avatar
Incredible helpful!
Will try it soon :D <3 <3
DeathNoteNiky04's avatar
Wow! So useful! I just wanted to ask you a question... Do the points have to always be in the horizon?(Talking about 1 and 2 perspective points 'causethe third is nowhere near the horizon obviously.)
AdamMasterman's avatar
Well.... yes and no.  Was that helpful?  :D

Whenever you draw two points, the line between them automatically becomes *a* horizon line, the far edge of an infinite plane.  Usually, that plane is the ground plane of our picture, and the horizon line corresponds to the actual horizon.  However, any object in our picture can be turned out of that perspective, in which case its points would no longer correspond to the three points of the original picture.

Here's an example: fav.me/d4qd40f  The picture is actually in simple one-point perspective, (with a little convergence on the verticals), but the hammers are spinning through the air, and not at all parallel to the ground plane of the picture.  If you were to take one of the hammers and trace its edges back, they would converge to vanishing points, but NOT the same points that define the basic space of the picture.  Thus, they aren't "on the horizon" of the picture (which, here, runs straight across right at the level of Mario's shoulders).

Hopefully that's helpful; perspective is awful hard to describe with words alone (and I'm away from my studio at the moment.)
MrsBlinkandMissItt's avatar
MrsBlinkandMissIttHobbyist Traditional Artist
This is incredibly helpful, thank you!
SunLion-OUT's avatar
SunLion-OUTStudent Traditional Artist
Wonderful thank you for posting this!
Wait0wat's avatar
Ah... helpful...
AbdouBouam's avatar
AbdouBouamProfessional Digital Artist
thanks for this :D , it's a very interresting tutorial !
graphmin's avatar
graphminHobbyist General Artist
Many thanks for this very intuitive tutorial :)
AliQJ's avatar
Wow, awesome tutorial! Thanks! *goes off to sketch random buildings*
SapphireMC's avatar
SapphireMCHobbyist General Artist
very helpful, thank you ^^
U91TedPark's avatar
U91TedParkHobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for your tutorial, it's very helpful!
anonymous's avatar
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