What Is A Vanishing Point In Art? (Guide With Examples)

Learning perspective is one of the most challenging techniques to draw when it comes to drawing. Most of the time, the main problem is that it needs to be clarified and simplified.

You can break it into more uncomplicated steps and learn one concept at a time, such as the Vanishing Point.

But what is a Vanishing Point in perspective? The vanishing point is a dot you draw on an image’s horizon, where all objects eventually converge.

Of course, merely reading about it might not make things much clearer.

But keep reading so you can better understand vanishing points and different ways to use them with the help of several examples and drawings!

What Is A Vanishing Point?

The Vanishing Point is a dot in an image, where all objects eventually converge to.

This is one of the most important elements when using perspective since it’s the vanishing point, along with the horizon, that decides how all objects and elements will be presented throughout the picture.

Depending on where you set your vanishing point, the results of the perspective will vary.

Here are a few examples to understand this concept better:

Place The Vanishing Point In Different Places For Different Views
Changing the vanishing point changes the direction of the objects quite a bit!

As you can see, moving the Vanishing Point along the horizon will change the direction and perspective of the objects.

Not only that, but if you add more than one vanishing point, you’ll also produce different results.

When drawing with perspective guides, you can create different points of view, such as:

  • One-Point Perspective, where everything converges into one single vanishing point;
  • Two-Point Perspective, where your objects converge into 2 vanishing points;
  • Three-Point Perspective. Here you add a third vanishing point out of the horizon line.
Different Perspective Techniques
Different points of view with different point perspectives!

We’ll discuss different perspectives in this article, but let’s keep things simple!

How To Make A Vanishing Point

Making a vanishing point is relatively simple. But before that, we need a horizon line.

Grab a piece of paper, a pencil, and a ruler. You can even grab pencils of different colors for each separate element!

If you’re doing this digitally, open your drawing software and a new canvas.

Now, draw a horizontal line on your canvas. This line can be placed anywhere. However, the view will be different depending on where you draw it.

For example, if you draw the horizon line in the center of the paper, it’s as if we’re looking straight at it.

On the other hand, drawing the line at the top of the paper, we’ll look at every element from below.

Finally, by drawing your horizon line at the bottom of the canvas, make it so we are looking at the drawing from the top!

Place The Horizon In Different Places For Different Views
Consider how you want to frame your drawing!

So, before drawing your horizon, decide what view makes the most sense for the drawing you’re making.

When that’s done, all you have to do now is choose where your Vanishing Point will be.

Again, depending on where you’re drawing that point, the view changes, just like we’ve seen previously.

How To Draw A Vanishing Point
A single dot in a horizon line: your vanishing point!

And that’s mostly it. The Vanishing Point is a single dot along the horizon, where every single guideline and element of your drawing will converge!

That’s why the horizon line and the vanishing points need to be the first things you do before drawing anything else.

Of course, you don’t always need to create a perspective guide whenever you’re drawing something.

However, suppose you’re planning on creating an illustration with several different objects and elements. In that case, a perspective guide will be handy.

Single Point Perspective Vanishing Point

As we mentioned before, there are different perspectives you can work with. Using a single-point perspective, all you need is one Vanishing Point.

This is the most common perspective guide to use and the easiest.

So, if you’re just starting to learn perspective, a single-point perspective is the one you should start with!

To start practicing, you must draw a horizon line and add a vanishing point anywhere along that line.

Create guidelines that converge with your vanishing point, and then draw whatever you want, following the guides. Something like this:

Draw Some Guidelines And Start Drawing
Add some guidelines to help you with drawing single-point perspective!

Since this is a very common perspective, you’ll find it throughout several paintings and illustrations of your favorite artists.

During the Renaissance, perspective was essential in art due to the ideal of perfect balance. So you can find a one-point perspective in most paintings.

The Last Supper, by Leonardo Da Vinci, is an excellent example of that:

The Last Supper, with perspective guidelines
The Last Supper is a famous example of One-Point Perspective!

Looking at more modern art, many professional artists often use this perspective in their own pieces and studies. A good example is these beautiful sunset studies by Loish:

If you’d like to learn more about One-Point Perspective, click here to read my guide!

Double Point Perspective Vanishing Point

When artists want to draw buildings or cityscapes, more commonly than not, they’ll use the Double Point Perspective (also called Two-Point Perspective).

This perspective technique offers a unique view, where instead of seeing just one side of a building, you can see two sides.

A double-point perspective tends to be a bit more complex since it uses 2 vanishing points. This also means creating even more guidelines.

Depending on how many details you want to add to your drawing, this might make the whole ordeal a bit more confusing.

Still, this technique will be your best friend if you plan to draw buildings!

To start, you need, again, a horizon line. Then, all you have to do is draw two vanishing points somewhere along that line.

Two things to consider here:

  • Your vanishing points are always opposite to each other. If you draw one point to the right of the horizon, the other will be to the left.
  • Keeping a significant distance between both vanishing points will avoid some distortion. But this all depends on what you’re going for, of course!

Although not as commonly used, if you follow environmental artists, you’ll notice they use this perspective quite a lot.

You also don’t need to be super precise with this perspective. I like to use The Church At Auvers by Vincent Van Gogh as an example.

The Church At Auvers And Its Perspective
Two-Point Perspective of “The Church At Auvers”

Even though a very impressionist style, where some rules tend to be broken, you can still clearly see the use of a two-point perspective!

When looking for modern artists, I can’t recommend Nathan Fowkes enough. This artist works and teaches mostly environments and produces the most beautiful drawings.

If you’d like to learn more about the Two-Point Perspective, here’s a complete guide with examples!

Three-Point Perspective Vanishing Point

As the name indicates, a Three-Point perspective uses 3 vanishing points.

This perspective is often used to draw buildings and interiors with an isometric view.

Using a three-point perspective also helps give more depth to your artwork. However, if two vanishing points complicate things, three points make it even more complex!

Using this perspective, you’ll have to draw two vanishing points along the horizon line. And then a 3rd point, above or below the horizon, depending on the kind of view you’re going for.

Here are a few tips to help make things easier for you:

  • The third vanishing point is always on the opposite side of the horizon line. For example, if your horizon line is at the top of the canvas, the vanishing point will be below that line. If the horizon line is at the bottom, your vanishing point is above the horizon line.
  • The third vanishing point is always at the center.

Having these two concepts in mind is going to be very helpful when drawing a three-point perspective!

You can create fascinating drawings using this perspective. You’ll also find this perspective a lot in isometric games, such as the roguelike game Hades by Supergiant Games, or role-playing games like Baldur’s Gate.

Screenshot of the videogame Hads
A Three-Point Perspective in the videogame above, “Hades” by Supergiant Games.

Another great example is these beautiful isometric rooms by Yoshi Yoshitani.

And if you’d like to learn more about perspective drawing, here are 4 types of perspective drawing and when to use them (with examples)

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Patricia Caldeira is the main writer here at Don Corgi. She's an art teacher with over 20.000 happy students across many platforms and courses!

Enjoy your stay and as always:
Keep on drawing!