Quick Box Perspective: Demo

Sketching Calisthenics- Quick box perspective

This next set Calisthenic Exercises usually follows our Point to Point and Ellipse warm ups. Things to note, sketch on big paper (I used cheap Newsprint 11 x 17), keep loose and free (some people like to start with a ruler, but you have to work your way towards sketching freehand straight lines), and most importantly work on that mileage (practice, practice, practice).

I am quickly going to go through this for your times sake (if you want more detailed notes on constructing a box I suggest a perspective drawing book). The book I used for reference is  “Design Sketching”  by Erik Olofsson and Klara Sjolen (this book is from Umea Institution of Design and is worth its weight in gold, filled with inspiration).

1) Always warm up with calisthenics

I always try to warm up first before I sketch. It helps me to get rid of the jitters and loosen up (just like doing quick warm ups before a run to get the blood pumping). I just draw front and back on an 8.5 x 11 paper my lines and ellipses, nothing fancy, just gotta keep on moving. Also, using cheap pens that I found round the office (Sharpies and ball points), got my little Muji speaker box for music (listening to Justice right now), my clock, awesome book for reference, and of course Archimedes the monkey …


2) Two Point Perspective

So here’s a basic construction of a box in two point perspective. Notice how the vertical lines on the box are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the horizon line (black line). The “horizontal lines” are not parallel, but meet at a specific vanishing points (VP) on the the horizon line. Warning: Placing your vanishing points to close together will result in a distorted or warped perspective.

basic box

3) Three Point Perspective

This perspective is based on the same principles as the above box demo (two point perspective), but it includes a third vanishing point placed above or below the object. Your vertical lines now converge at this 3rd point. 3 point perspective will make a small object appear closer to the viewer’s eye or a large object seem monumental.

3 point perspective

4) Practice, practice, practice

So, after understanding the basics to constructing a box in perspective, this was a warm up exercise we used to do in class. Basically, fill the page with boxes drawn from the same horizon line (Black line). The key is to do this free handed (if you practice your calisthenics of Point to Point everyday, drawing straight lines will come naturally)…this might not be the most exciting thing in the world, but it trains you to dial in the perspective. Another key takeaway is to alway, always draw through your objects, be it boxes or cars. Show your construction!

box perspective exercise

5) Basic Lineweight

Here you can see that the thickest lines are on the baselines (the groundplane), the second thickest are on the edges that have air behind them (notice that the second thickest lines are not only contour lines, but lines that occur within an object, i.e. the cutout), and of course the thinnest lines are the edges that point towards the viewer. This is how you can make your image pop and give punch. It also builds contrast…


6) Choose your perspective

When choosing a perspective, it is crucial to not only consider which viewing angle will best explain your object, but also what feeling you want to convey. For instance, just by changing the horizon line to oblique, your sketch will look more dynamic. A low horizon gives the feeing of high and mighty (used a lot in sketching buildings). Whereas a bird’s eye view gives the view a feeling of survey and control.

composition and background

Thanks for checking out the demo!

Hope this demo and exercise helps…or at least is a refresher and gets you doing warm ups…for myself, I keep my calesthenics under 8 minutes, no need to get carried away…just gotta do it everyday!

Please let us know if you got any questions, comments or suggestions…

    • Anonymous
    • June 21st, 2012

    Your lessons are trully a life saver. I have learned so much

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