How to Achieve Depth Perception in a Drawing

By Steven Lafler
The box cars in this photo emerge from a single vanishing point.

Depth perception can be achieved in a drawing using tried and true art techniques. Objects look smaller as they recede in space. Artists use vanishing points in drawings to help them construct objects such as cars and buildings receding in space. You can also show depth in drawing by working from light to dark, with darker objects appearing further back in space. This can be achieved with a series lines with the cross hatching technique.

Take a pencil and a piece of drawing paper. Draw a single point on one side of the paper. This is called a vanishing point and can be used to show depth perception in a drawn object. Draw a square on the other side of the paper, away from the vanishing point.

Use a ruler to connect three corners of the square to the vanishing point. Do not connect the point on the opposite side of the square from the point, as you would have to draw through the square.

Measure two inches from each corner of the square along the lines to the vanishing point and mark each spot with a dot. Connect the three dots. The result is a box drawn in perspective with the use of a vanishing point, showing depth perception. Erase the lines outside the box that connect with the vanishing point. Try adding more objects in the drawing using the same vanishing point.

Use a pencil to draw two dots on opposite sides of a piece of paper. These are vanishing points for a drawing with two vanishing points. Draw a line centered straight up and down between the two points. Start the line above the points and end it below them.

Use a ruler to connect the vanishing points to the top and bottom of the center line. Measure three inches from the center line along each connecting line and mark with a dot. Connect the dots on two dots to the left of the center line, then connect the two dots to the right of the center line. The result is a box drawn using two vanishing points, showing it receding into the distance on both sides of the box. Draw a horizontal line behind the box to indicate the horizon.

Draw a series of horizontal lines very close together on the object that is further back in the picture. Draw a series of vertical lines close together on top of the horizontal lines. Add a series of angled lines close together over part of the object to create a tone. This technique of drawing straight lines close to each other to create a tone is called cross hatching. Note how the object with the crosshatching appears separated from the other object in space.


Try drawing objects using vanishing points. Add crosshatching to the sides of the objects to show depth perception. Try crosshatching with anywhere from one to four series of lines crossing each other to create a variety of tones. Drawing from life, such as figure drawing, is an exercise that is helpful in learning to achieve depth perception in drawings.

Draw with a variety of tones to achieve depth perception in drawings. Use a drawing pen to draw two or more objects on a piece of drawing paper. They could be very simple objects like boxes, or more complex objects such as people or flowers. Draw them as outlines.