How to add perspective to your images

Dynamic digital drawing of racing car speeding towards a tunnel drawn at a low angle

Struggling to give your work a strong sense of perspective? There are perspective tools built into both Photoshop and Illustrator that will help (for example, click Edit>Perspective Warp in Photoshop).

When you’re first experimenting with perspective I’d strongly suggest using these tools as a guide to help you with your compositions. Once you feel more confident and understand which is the right perspective for your composition, then you can start to create your own perspective grid for more flexibility. (And if you need a refresher on the basics, see our how to draw perspective guide.)

Having a strong perspective in your work helps the image feel more realistic, and it also enables you to convey the power you want the image to have. For example, picking a lowangle perspective, like in my racing car piece here, gives a real sense of speed and power, whereas picking a higher perspective angle (imagine looking down from a tall building) can give a sense of height and fear.

Once you’ve decided on a perspective and angle for your composition, you can start to bend the rules slightly and exaggerate your perspective for a more dramatic effect. However, don’t go too far because it will begin to feel unrealistic!

01. Create a horizon line

Digital canvas illustrated with low horizon line and vanishing point

It all starts with a horizon line

It all starts with your horizon line. Once you have this you can then pick your primary vanishing point and begin to create your guides from the point. Keep your angles simple to make your life easier – you can always rotate your artwork later.

02. Place your object

Digital drawing of basic racing car shapes speeding towards vanishing point

Take a couple of passes to settle on a good shape

Once you’re happy with your perspective, sketch some loose shapes to see where and how you want your objects to sit. I often have multiple sketches with different angles and perspectives before I decide on the one I feel works best.

03. Add details

Detailed drawing of racing car speeding towards a vanishing point

Add a secondary vanishing point if needs be

When your angles and perspective are working well together, start to add detail and flesh your drawing out. You can also add a secondary vanishing point if necessary. For my piece here I added a secondary vanishing point for the buildings.

This article was originally published in issue 156 of ImagineFX, the world's best-selling magazine for digital artists. Buy issue 156 or subscribe to ImagineFX here.

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Chris is a vector-based artist who specialises in sport and comic book illustration. He's worked with Sky Sports, NBC Sports, and many personalities within the motorsport industry.