Foreshortening & Vanishing Points

Foreshortening & Vanishing Points

Have you ever wondered what makes Perspective happen? In this video I will tell you exactly that. We have already established that the Horizon Line is the line we see when we look straight ahead into infinity, and that it corresponds to the height of our eyes. The Horizon Line is consequently the Eye-Level.

The following text is a transcript from the video above. You can go ahead and watch it. It will be easier to understand and it will take only a few minutes of your time. But if you are old school and prefer to do all the reading, feel free to do so!


Parallel lines

To be able to draw in perspective, we must think of any object as a simple box.

Drawing of a Railroad done in Clip Studio Paint

Drawing of a Railroad done in Clip Studio Paint

When drawing in Perspective, everything must be simplified inside a box

When drawing in Perspective, everything must be simplified inside a box

When we look at a box in perspective, we see three sets of parallel lines: The Height Lines, the Length Lines and the Width Lines. With only these lines we can understand the volume of the box.

A Cube is made of three groups of Parallel Lines

A Cube is made of three groups of Parallel Lines

But even if we don’t see them, we know that behind that volume there are actually three more lines. The hidden lines are also height, width and length lines, and they are parallel to the ones we can see.

Parallel lines are those which have the same direction. No matter how long we make those lines, they will always keep the same distance between them. To that end, parallel lines never touch.

Parallel Lines

Parallel Lines

A great example of parallel lines are the tracks of a railroad. But, what happens when we stand on the railroad and we look at the horizon?

The Parallel Lines merge in one Point!

The parallel lines merge in one point!

How can this be?


Let’s take a look at the tracks again, this time from above.

To understand this, we are going to look at the tracks right in front of us. If we draw an imaginary line from the corners of each side of the track to our eyes, we will get the measure of that section of the track. Now, if we look further away into the distance and we do the same thing, we will see that the section is much narrower.

Explanation of how foreshortening works

This is how Foreshortening works


The Vanishing Point

Just as a ship in sea doesn’t have the same size when it’s close than when it’s far away, the tracks don’t have the same width either. The further away an object is, the smaller it will look.

So when we raise our eyes to the horizon, the section at that point will have become so small, that we will see it as just a dot. This point is called the Vanishing Point.

What is the Vanishing Point?

The Vanishing Point is the point where things become so small that they “vanish” from our view.



What is Foreshortening?

Like it happened with the railroad and the ships, the phenomenon of foreshortening happens to every object when it moves away from us.

Foreshortening size comparison

We know the first two ships have the same size, but one looks a lot smaller that the other one. If they were the same size, it would mean that they are at the same distance from us, or that the further one is huge!

For this reason, we must be very careful when drawing the foreshortening in perspective. If we estimate the foreshortening of an object wrong, it will appear to be bigger or to be closer than what we intended.

So, remember: Because there is foreshortening, there can be perspective. Be mindful of the power of foreshortening and you’ll have come a long way!


Coming up Next

In the next post we will see how with just one Vanishing Point we can create One Point Perspective. Don’t forget about foreshortening! It will play a very important role in the creation of our drawings.

T hank you for reading the post all the way through! If you liked the contents don’t keep it to yourself… Tell your friends! Thanks to your support I can create amazing projects. Check them out in my web or in my social media and tell me what you think!

See you there!


I am an illustrator and a comic artist. I like to do character designs and play the harp.

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