1.7 Visual depth

The purpose of this exercise was to develop an understanding of the principles of perspective.

Key words from the brief:

  • Produce three drawings depicting a room in your house using one-point, two-point and three-point perspective
  • Find places that can exaggerate these different viewpoints
  • Produce a fourth drawing using isometric projection
  • Produce a fifth drawing of the room in which you deliberately break the rules and draw the space with its own visual logic
  • Finally, do a flat drawing
  • You don’t need to produce finished illustrations
  • Write around 200 words analysing how these different approaches affect the ‘meaning’ of the visual space being represented

Perspective drawings

I decided to make the perspective drawings of urban landscapes from around the Barbican Centre close to where I was working.

I wanted to experiment creating reportage drawing from my studio using reference, a technique used by reportage illustrator Lucinda Rogers.

One-point perspective drawing

My starting point was photographic reference taken on my daily walk from Bank tube station up and over the Barbican Centre.


The final artwork was created on a lightbox using the pencil line art as reference.

Barbican Centre using 1-point perspective. Pen and ink and watercolour – A3 sized

Two-point perspective drawing

I used three reference images to create the 2-point perspective view of the same subject:


2 point perspective thumbnail.jpg
2-point perspective thumbnail – A4 graph paper

On reflection I should have chosen a different viewpoint to break the symmetry of the composition and make the overall image more visually interesting.

Three-point perspective drawing

This was more challenging because I found that the 3-point rule broke down when I tried to make the image more complex and the results were not so predictable.

The subject was one of the Barbican towers.

Photo ref01
View towards the Barbican Centre early morning

I made the drawing in pencil using A3 graph paper and then created a colour version using liquid watercolour.


Isometric drawing

The isometric drawing took me back to O’Level Technical Drawing (without the drawing board and T-square). I created a simple projection to prove the point but didn’t elaborate.

Simple isometric projection

A space with it’s own visual logic

I used reportage drawings and reference photographs to create this image using the same analogue to digital composite and recolour techniques as in 1.5 Less is more.

I experimented with photomontage in the background layer to see how this would work within a reportage context.


Final image composited and coloured in Photoshop.

Magic realism composite artwork

I think this image would have been improved if I’d spent the time to redraw it on a lightbox to get more clarity and consistency between layers.

Flat space

I like the work of Kate Prior who combines flat space, or almost flat space with vibrant flat colour. She uses Adobe Illustrator to make the work and I thought I use this opportunity to extend my Illustrator skills whilst working with a flat and limited colour palette.

I wanted to capture a subject in a posture that communicates some kind of narrative, and took a series of photographs from the Barbican Kitchen as a starting point.


After some quick sketches I decided to focus on the girl eating pizza.

I created a number of ink pen sketches of the subject,  some of which became the reference artwork I worked from in Illustrator.


The line art was drawn in Illustrator using different custom brushes, and I attempted to colour the image using Illustrators colour fill tools but didn’t have the time or patience to master the process.

I’m very familiar with using Photoshop for colouring and compositing so finished everything in Photoshop.

Flat perspective artwork02
Barbican Kitchen – girl eating pizza watching Youtube

On reflection I felt I hadn’t really experimented enough with flat space and experimented further with another drawing of the same subject, this time drawing more freely using a free association technique.

Ink pen drawing/doodle – A3 sized

I used the same Illustrator/Photoshop process that I used in the previous image to digitise and colour the picture. The big difference being that this was all drawn and coloured in a single layer.

Flat perspective version02
Lunch at the Barbican Kitchen

An analysis of how the different perspective techniques affect the meaning of the visual space

The physical world is three dimensional and as humans that is how we perceive it.

Perspective is a tool in an artist’s visual toolbox that provides a set of rules to create the illusion of space in a two dimensional medium (paper or screen), and works alongside visual composition, colour and style. It’s a powerful trick and provides a key from which a viewer can make sense of an image.

1-point, 2-point and 3-point perspective create realistic spaces using a set of rules that approximate to how the physical world behaves. We perceive objects getting smaller the further away they are.  As an illustrator I can use this to communicate my message.

Lucinda Rogers, Dictionary of Urbanism, black and white ink drawing illustration railway tracks trains London

Flat space and isometric space share a number of characteristics. The visual space feels contrived. Whilst objects can have a appearance of three dimensions (although often don’t), there is no vanishing point so conventional visual hierarchy, (foreground, midground and background) don’t apply. This allows the illustrator to bring other visual tools into play such as surface pattern, scale and colour to create a composition with meaning. As a viewer I may have to work a bit harder to understand an image, although this more creative approach can also surprise and delight.

Morris Hirshfield Stage Beauties
Morris Hirshfield, Stage Beauties, 1944, oil on canvas, 40 x 48 inches, collection: Metropolitan Museum of Art.


What went well

  • I enjoyed using the Barbican Centre a subject and got a lot of value from rethinking how to use perspective to represent spaces that I’ve drawn many times in the past.
  • I learned how to use some of the drawing tools in Illustrator more effectively, particularly use of custom brushes.
  • The second Lunch at the Barbican illustration was created using a much more spontaneous doodling style and is probably the more successful of the two flat perspective images. This ties back to tutor feedback received for an exercise in Illustration Sketchbooks, 3.5 Free association, where I was advised to create more work using this approach.
  • The exercise made me consider the meanings and benefits of using the different types of perspective.

What I would differently/better

  • There are whole areas in Illustrator around use of colour that I need to learn. I think it could be a great tool for me to use for future assignments.
  • I could have used more surface pattern in the flat perspective images.


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