Urban Sketching for Beginners: One - Point Perspective | Julia Henze | Skillshare

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Urban Sketching for Beginners: One - Point Perspective

teacher avatar Julia Henze, Artist | Teacher | Urban Sketching Lover

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Types of perspective


    • 3.

      How to recognize one-point perspective


    • 4.

      How to understand one-point perspective 1


    • 5.

      How to understand one-point perspective 2


    • 6.

      How to draw one-point perspective


    • 7.

      Drawing a street in one-point perspective


    • 8.

      Final thoughts


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About This Class

Do you love urban sketching, as I do, but you struggle with perspective? Then this class is for you! This is the first part of a series about perspective. In this class we will focus on the fundamentals of the one-point perspective in urban sketching. 

This is a beginners class, so my intention is not to show you one method to draw one particular street, but I want you to understand how to draw your own architecture with a one-point perspective in different circumstances. I know that for many of you it’s a quite tough stuff but I’ll try to make it as clear as possible by explaining every detail and by showing different examples. And, of course, we will draw a nice one-point perspective at the end.

Enjoy the class!


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For INSTAGRAM: tag me @julia_henze and use the hashtag #juliahenze_skillshare I'll be happy to share your artwork in my Stories!

Meet Your Teacher

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Julia Henze

Artist | Teacher | Urban Sketching Lover

Top Teacher

Hello, creatives! My name is Julia Henze. I'm a freelance illustrator and urban sketcher living and working in a village with a name that nobody can pronounce, Bergschenhoek, in The Netherlands.

I love to share my passion for drawing and urban sketching with you, and show you how to make the drawing process easier and more fun. All my Skillshare classes are very easy to follow and perfect for beginning artists. But also advanced students can find interesting tips and tricks.

Visit my Instagram for inspiration and drawing tutorials. Tag me (@julia_henze) when you post a sketch made with one of my classes and use a hashtag #JuliaHenze_Skillshare. I'll be very happy to see your artworks!

And find speed-drawing demonstration videos on my YouTube channe... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Intro: Hi guys. Welcome to my class. My name is [inaudible] I'm an administrator and an urban sketcher based in the Netherlands. This is the first part of a series called Perspective. In this class we will focus on the fundamentals or the one-point perspective in urban sketching. This is a beginners class and my intention is not to show you one method to draw one particular street but I want you to understand how to make your own sketch with one point perspective in different circumstances. I know that for many of you it's a quite tough stuff but I will try to make it as clear as possible by explaining every detail and by showing different examples. And of course, we will draw a nice one-point perspective at the end. So,what do we need for this class? As I said before, this is a beginners class. You can also see it as beginner's guide and that means that you don't need any skills or special materials for it. For practicing, I would recommend you a regular pencil, eraser and sketch paper. You can also use office paper if you want. For the final project, you can use materials of your choice. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable with them. What is in this class? Before we start to talk about one-point perspective, I will show you what types of perspective there are. Then I will tell you how to recognize one-point perspective, how to understand one-point perspective, and how to draw one-point perspective. Finally, we will draw a street in one-point perspective. So, are you ready to dive in the world of one-point perspective? Let's start then. 2. Types of perspective: There are a lot of possibilities with prospective drawings from one point to uncountable numbers of points, if we're talking about very complicated objects or scenes. But there are actually just three types of perspective you have to know for now. One-point perspective. This is the most easy one, and we will talk about it further in this class. Here you can see that only one side of the railway rails is in perspective, and that all the parallel lines of this perspective side come to one point. While another side, the railway ties, is parallel to the horizon and the bottom of the page. This kind of perspective is very useful when we want to draw a railway, a road, a street, but also when we want to make our play drawing more atmospheric, more exciting by adding some perspective elements. Two-point perspective. This time we can see that both sides of the building are in perspective, and the lines go to two different points. I think this is the type of perspective you will use the most for your urban sketches. Almost everything you see around here are 3D objects. Inside or outside a house, a tower, or a table in your living room, you can use it in every situation depending on what exactly you can see and what you want to show in your a sketch. Two-point perspective is a little bit more difficult than one-point. For both types cons, once you've gathered, it's quite easy to draw. This type of perspective I will explain in the next class. Finally, three-point perspective. As you can see on this picture, three sides of every building are involved in perspective and all of them go to another point. There are three points where the perspective lines come together. This is a type of perspective you probably wouldn't use a lot. But I think it's important to understand how it works anyway. When you can use it. Always when you have a tall object to draw, like a skyscraper, a tower, a lighthouse, or even a lamppost. If you're sitting or staying quite close to it and looking up to see the whole object. 3. How to recognize one-point perspective: A lot of people have a difficult relationship with perspective, but it shouldn't be very complicated. Perspective is actually nothing different than an artist viewpoint of a three-dimensional surroundings onto a two-dimensional surface. Two things are important for drawing in perspective. First of all, your position with reference to a subject you want to draw with other words, how many vanishing points you have. Secondly, the height of your eye level above the ground. In other words, where a horizon line comes. Let's start with the vanishing point. A vanishing point is a point where all the parallel lines in perspective seem to meet and disappear. When we're talking about one, two, or three point perspective, we mean the amount of vanishing points. One point perspective has just one vanishing point where all the perspective lines come together and all the other lines go straight across. As we saw in an example of the railway in previous video, the other lines are parallel to the horizon line or as we see here also perpendicular to the horizon line. The horizon line is a thin line between the Earth and the sky and it's always on your eye level. What does it mean? For example, when you're floating on a boat in the middle of the ocean, you easily can see that the sky meets water on your eye level but imagine that you are traveling by air plane at the height of thousand kilometers above sea level where we're over the horizon line, then. Exactly. It will be still at the eye level where the sky meets the water. What would you choose for your sketch? Now, you know about different types of perspective. You know what vanishing point and horizon line are. Let's take a look at some photos I prepared and try to recognize what type of perspective it is, and how you can handle it in your sketch. Some of the photos will be quite easy, other ones are more complicated, think a couple of seconds and then try to give an answer. Is this a one-point perspective or not? Why do you think that? Will it be possible to use one-point perspective in this situation, or maybe it wouldn't work. Then I will give you an answer and some explanation, which is my personal look to a particular situation. It shouldn't be necessary your choice as well but I hope it will help you to understand how one-point perspective works in urban sketching under different circumstances and how you can make your drawing process easier. Let's start. This road is a classic example of one-point perspective. Nothing special all the perspective lines come together in one vanishing point. All the phase side lines are parallel and perpendicular to the horizon. There can't be any doubt about it. There is actually no choice. This is a more difficult example. When I look at buildings on the foreground we can see that, all perspective lines come together in one vanishing point. All the front sidelines are pretty much parallel and perpendicular to the horizon line the same time but notice that something strange happens on the background. It looks like the small houses have their own vanishing point. I think officially it wouldn't be a one-point, but multiple point perspective we can't see it very well but probably the front side of this small houses is also in perspective. However, this is also the reason why I would use two, one-point perspective instead of one multiple point perspective. As I said before, this is a choice that can make your drawing process easier. How they think about this one. Maybe you can see that this is definitely not one-point perspective, but I want to explain why not? First of all, there are two vanishing points but as we saw before, it shouldn't automatically mean that we can't use one-point perspective in such a case. This time it's really clear a two-point perspective because there is no say where the lines are parallel to the horizon line. Okay, next one. I think it's clear that this is a one-point perspective but there is a little complication we can notice. The tiles on the ground and the houses on the foreground go into a curve that starts by the white line. Here we can make a choice to draw the street and all the lines straight or draw them as they are with a curve or maybe it would be interesting even to x on the curve. One more. Once again, a one-point perspective. Nothing special, except the circumstance that it looks like only a small part of the picture is involved in perspective. The strides under, above and behind the gate but don't forget about the balcony, all the windows and other things around the gate because some parts of them are also in perspective. Finally, the last one, it's a difficult one, almost every building on this photo has its own vanishing point, two buildings on the foreground have one vanishing point. The right building on the background has another vanishing point and the left building on the background also has its own vanishing point. This situation is comparable to a situation on the second photo and no, this is not a three-point perspective. Choice we can make here is to use one-point perspective, with several vanishing points. But don't forget that all the vanishing points are still on the horizon line and they will always stay there. I hope this information was useful for you but before we jump to the next part of this course, I want to tell you that in fact, there are no strict rules for choosing your point of view or a type of perspective. Using some imagination, you can make a one-point perspective from a two point and even three point and vice versa. But remember, once you have chosen, you have to follow the rules of the selected type. 4. How to understand one-point perspective 1: This is still a theoretical, but also a practical part of this class. I know you can't wait to start make your first perspective sketches. But before you can do that, you really need to understand how one-point perspective works. In this part, we're going to take a look at a couple of very important things for one-point perspective. How can the view change depending on where you're looking from? How to understand the height, the width, and of course, the depth. In the next video, we will talk about how to make drawings of complicated shapes easier. It's very important to practice with boxes and other shapes before you start to draw urban sketches. I've put some project tasks at the end of the next video. There is something I want to explain before we take a look to all these exciting things. It's about how to draw a box in perspective. As you can see on this picture, I draw all the lines visible and invisible to help myself to construct a box. I draw the front side first, then I connect all the corners to the vanishing point. Then I draw the back side of the box. Finally, I draw the box shape with thick lines. Remember that both the front and the back side of the box are always parallel and perpendicular to the horizon line. I think it's very important, especially for beginners, to draw not only visible but also invisible lines. However, in my examples later in this class, you won't see a lot of invisible lines. This is because I want to keep the examples as clear as possible for you, using only the lines that are really important for a particular subject. Having said this, I want to move to more specific things you can come across with drawing in one-point perspective. I will start with the view. I want to show you two different situations so you can see how a view could change depending on where we're staying or sitting. I will use two boxes as buildings to make it easier to understand. As you can see, this is the top view and the circle is our viewpoint. Make building 1 a little bit taller and thinner than building 2. Here you can see how it looks on the side view. We're looking from the side where the arrow is pointing. As you can see in this situation, you're staying on the ground. Your eye level is about 1.6 meters from the ground, depends on your length. Of course, it will be higher or lower if you're tall or short, but actually 10 or 20 centimeters aren't very important for this. What will you see in perspective then? I think something like this. Several things are important in this situation. First of all, the horizon line is about the middle of the picture. This could be important when you start to make your sketch. Secondly, in this situation, you will never see tops of the buildings because they're higher than you, and of course higher than your horizon line. Finally, the perspective lines come both below and above the horizon line. In the second situation, you're staying on the roof of a high building and look down to building 1 and 2. Where is your eyes in line now? As we saw before in the example with an airplane, it's still on your eye level. This time about 1.6 meters from the roof floor on the building you're staying on above the buildings you want to draw. That means, differently from the first situation, the horizon line is very high here. Probably, it will be on the upper side of your sketch, close to the top of your paper sheet. Another difference is that anticipation you would always see the tops of buildings 1 and 2, because they are lower than your eyes in line. Finally, the perspective lines come here only below the horizon line. I hope it's clear about the view. Let's take a look to the height and the width of our boxes. A very important thing I'm still repeating is that the lines on the front and the back side of the boxes are always parallel and perpendicular to the horizon line. But how do I know what the proportions of these boxes are? Very simple. You take a pencil and measure the height and the width of your front side, something like two times and a little bit the breadth. What about the height here? You will note that there is no need to measure the back side. I think you understand this, but let's take a look at what happens when there is a building behind one of the front buildings. Actually, nothing really different. The same thing. All the back and front sidelines will be parallel and perpendicular to the horizon line, and you will start with measuring of the front side again. You just draw every time every box from the beginning to the end. I think it's clear, but just to make it more official, when the building behind is taller than the front building, we will see a part of the front side of this tall building. In this case, it's extremely important to draw not only visible, but also invisible lines. When the building behind is lower, it's not really necessary to draw the invisible lines, but I would recommend you to do this anyway, just for practicing. Of course, we can't see the front line of the small building. The depth, perspective is a optical illusion, the way your eyes work. Things appear smaller when they're further away. You can see here that the red line closest to you has a normal size, but it gets still smaller when it comes closer to the horizon. If we continue this row, we will see that the last line would be actually a dot on the horizon line. Of course, to measure the depth, you can use your pencil again. This is all for this video. Don't forget about the project task at the end of the next video. 5. How to understand one-point perspective 2: As you can see, the most easy way to sketch a building is by using boxes. But sometimes, they have an arc, a triangle window, a round lighthouse or a wave in [inaudible]. How can we do this? You could think that all the shapes have a special method to draw, but they actually haven't. Almost every shape, how simple or complicated it is becomes much easier to draw by using a square, rectangle, or a box. Let's take a look at a circle. How I normally draw a circle, I start by drawing a square. Connect all the corners to find the middle of the square. I draw two lines, parallel and perpendicular to the outside line to find the points where the circle will touch the square, and then I draw a circle in it. I think is clear so far. Drawing a circle in perspective is quite similar. I only need to draw my square in one-point perspective, and then I make a circle in the square touching the middle points on the sides. So the circle becomes an ellipse. Note that the half of a circle closest to you will always be wider than the half which is further from you. Here you can see that when I draw a second circle more in perspective, the distance between the left and the right outside points of the circle become shorter. There is one thing that probably would be still difficult for you. I mean, they don't have any reference point on the crossed lines, that could help you to draw the right shape. Now, there are methods to find some points to make a circle more perfect. But I don't think we can really use them in urban sketching because they're quite complicated. So, as with many things about drawing, just stay practicing and one day you will make perfect circles in perspective without any help in lines. Finally, I draw the third circle directly on the vanishing point, and you can see what happens then. The circle becomes a single line. It's not in perspective anymore. Similar, that the circles that are placed perpendicular to the horizon line, we could draw the circles that are placed parallel to it, but only have to change the angle with 90 degrees. On this picture, you can see what happens when we connect all the circles on different sides. We've got a cylinder. Here's an example how you can use circles in your sketches, a lighthouse. Note that in some cases you have to deal with circles of many different sizes. Next one is a diamond shape. This shape is even easier than the circle, but not less important. Think on a house with a pointed roof, which is a hollow for diamond shape or on a diamond shaped window. You can see here that I use exactly the same anchor points as for the circle. I only have to connect them with each other. So they're the same rules as for the circle, and of course, you can draw a triangle the same way, just ignoring the top or the bottom of the diamond shape. Last but not least, the wave shape. Maybe you would never use it in your sketches, but I just want to show you that even such a complicated shape, like a wave, shouldn't be very difficult to draw. As you can see here, the wave is based on a couple of circles. That means that the best way to draw a wave, is by using the same method as for the circles. Here are the circles and here is our wave based on the circles. Notice that the shape of the wave doesn't exactly follow of the circle shapes, but it's a little bit smoother. If you want to draw a wave shape even smoother, you just have to change the amplitude of the wave by using a rectangle instead of square. I hope these two last parts were clear for you. We can talk endlessly about different forms and shapes in one-point perspective, but I think it's an off-study material for a beginner. If you don't understand something or if you have questions about how to draw another shapes, you can ask me anything in the comments below. Finally, the first project task. Draw two or more boxes in perspective, as we discussed in the previous video. You can choose how to and why the boxes will be, and how many of them you want to draw. Just try to experiment and draw a circle, a diamond shape, and the wave shape in perspective. If you think the wave shape is too difficult for you, don't worry, you can just keep it. Maybe you would come back later for it. If you want, you may use a ruler for this exercises. Good luck with practicing. 6. How to draw one-point perspective: In this part of the class, I will give you some practical tips and I will show you how to start with one-point perspective sketch. Here are a couple of my tips. The most important thing with perspective is consistency. Even if not everything is perfect in your sketch, the overall picture looks better when the perspective lines are more or less in their right direction. I mean, if you have one vanishing point, all your perspective lines should go to that point and all the other lines should be parallel and perpendicular to the horizon line. Look at my pictures or at pictures of your most favorite artist. If you look very carefully, you will notice that they are far from perfect but the consistency with perspective lines makes them quite good-looking. Practice, I think I will give this tip in my every class because it's very important if you want to learn something, so I want to ask you to practice until you really understand how one-point perspective works. It shouldn't be perfect. Don't try to make a perfect sketch. Sketching is about impression and absolutely not about perfection. Don't use relevant sketches. Of course, you can use it when you're practicing the shapes, but your sketches will look much more natural if you will draw them using only your eyes and your pencil, make them news to help yourself as perspective. Just a couple of lines would make it more understandable and maybe you can avoid some mistakes in your sketch later and enjoy. Even if the lines are not as straight as you desire and you see mistakes in their perspective when you sketch is finished, I hope you enjoy the process of sketching because it's just really fun to do. How to start with one-point perspective sketch. Always start with the finding of the horizon line. I see there were high on the roof floor and all the objects you want to draw below the horizon line. Then the horizon line comes probably close to the top of your paper or are you sitting on the bench in the park. The horizon line probably comes about the middle of your paper, but not necessarily when the buildings you want to draw are high. The horizon line on your paper would be lower than when the buildings are low. Bridges, hills, balconies, and other places where you can sit about the ground would also have influence on the position of the horizon line on your paper. Now, we have our horizon line, it's time to find a vanishing point. Notice that the vanishing point shouldn't be necessarily in the middle of the scene, it depends on the view and on what you want to show in your sketch. Now, you have to outline the ground to mark where the bottom side of your building will come. Then draw the face side first. Sometimes you can't see the face set of a building, but the single line to mark the face side corner would be enough. Connect the corners to the vanishing point. Draw the back side of the building, as we discussed earlier in this class. Finally, connect the sides of the building. Now, you have to repeat the whole process for every building you want to draw. Don't forget to draw invisible lengths if you think you need them to construct a building. Now, let's take a look at windows. How would you deal with them? First of all, as we learn before, there is no perspective on the front side. However, don't forget that every opening in the wall, similar to every other detail on the front side have some thickness. That means that they also would have a perspective side. Otherwise, the windows on the left side of the building will be in perspective except the wall thickness. Notice that as we've seen before, have further look how thinner everything becomes, so lest a couple of windows would probably look like short, but it's still a little bit thick lines. Finishing our window, we draw a horizontal line first. Then we draw this side length, which is perpendicular to the horizon line. Finally, we connect the point where the lines cross to the vanishing point. Here, of course, you can apply the same rules to the doors. One last thing about windows, if you want to draw windows on different sides of a building on the same level, you only need to extend the helping lines to the corner from the face inside to the perspective side. Then you connect the helping lines with the horizon, so you get automatically the head of the perspective side windows. How to find the horizon line. As I said before, the horizon line is your eye level. But the question is, how can you find it in practice when you're drawing? When you draw from a photo, it shouldn't be a problem at all. But I want to give you some indications to make the process easier. Sometimes you can just look for a line which is parallel on the bottom of your photo like here or you look at people with average length like here. The eyes of this guy would be pretty much in the same head as yours. Or if you don't have any people in your photo but you have doors, you can use the height of a normal door as a reference point. The horizon line would be a little bit lower than the top side of the door, like here. It looks more complicated when the door outside, but actually, it's quite easy as well. First of all, you can use the same indicators as for the photo. But there's also another way. Maybe you notice two icons with the pencil I've put in the part where we discussed drawing with boxes like this. When you draw outside and need you to find your horizon line or a head width or depth, you can always use your pencil for that. Just hold the pencil horizontally with your arm totally stretched out in front of your eyes. The pencil line is your eye level, and so it's also your horizon line. You also should stretch your arm out. If you want to find the height, the width, and the depth, you only need to hold your nail on the pencil to fix the length and then you can apply to your sketch. If you choose to apply two times the fixed length to the height, you should do the same to all the other dimension. The last thing I want to tell you very shortly in this part is an invisible horizon line. Maybe it's very obvious, but I just want to say it for people who maybe aren't sure how it works. Every main part of your sketch is a flat building in the middle. Don't worry, and do everything as we discussed before. The horizon line and the vanishing point will be just behind the main building, so the best thing we can do in this case is to draw or at least to outline the central building first and then start to draw the perspective. I think it was enough theory about one-point perspective. Let's practice. 7. Drawing a street in one-point perspective: I hope you have practiced a lot, and now you are ready to make your own one-point perspective urban sketch. Choose a photo that you like or even better, go outside and draw a real street. But first, I will demonstrate to you how I draw a street in one-point perspective. This is my reference, yes, God bless Google Street, and my thumbnail. I have chosen a quite short street and buildings without a lot of decoration, because I think it's very important to start with easy scenes, and after some practicing, you can make it more difficult. Step 1, I start to draw with a pencil. First of all, I draw some boxes and perspective as we did before. Then, I outline the doors and the windows, and only after that, I start to finalize the sketch by drawing all the details. Notice that for every detail I draw in perspective, I come back to the vanishing point and start to draw a helping line from there. Every time when I draw a line without perspective, I check if it's parallel to the edges of my paper. Let's start to draw. Next step. Now I have a pencil sketch, I can refine it with a fineliner. Here, I don't need to think a lot because I actually drew everything before. I can add some details to my sketch if I want to. Finally, step 3 is a quick coloring. If you'd like to color the whole sketch, you can do that. But I want to show you that you also can make a colorful sketch without using a lot of color. I will only color the buildings on the right side to make an impression of a street with colorful houses and I will apply color to some details. Sometimes, you can even better use just one or two colors for the most important details you want to accentuate. Less is more is actually the only rule here. I have finished my sketch and I'm looking forward to see yours in the project gallery. 8. Final thoughts: I think it was a lot of information for you. So I want to make a brief summary of this class. To begin with, we looked through the types of perspective. Then I asked you to guess which type of perspective you would choose for your sketch. After that, I explained how to work with different views, the head, the width, and the depth in one-point perspective. I showed you that the shapes that look complicated at first sight shouldn't be difficult to draw when you put them in a square. This was a part with the project task, how to draw one-point perspective. In this part, I gave you some practical tips and showed you how to start with your own one-point perspective sketch. Finally, I demonstrated how draw a street in one-point perspective. There was another project asking this last part. Here, I've put all the project tasks together. To get more information check the About page of this class. I hope this class was helpful for you and you understand now how one-point perspective works. Please practice as much as possible. If you still have any questions or suggestions, don't hesitate to ask anything in the comments below. I'm really looking forward to see your sketches in the project gallery. Good luck. Bye. See you in the next class about two-point perspective.