How To Draw Tutorial: Perspective
This how to draw tutorial on perspective introduces basics which have been only recently uncovered after two decades of intense research.
An essential key to good drawing is a firm understanding of how to depict three-dimensional form.
What A "Vanishing Point" Really Is
If extending far enough away, a foreshortened object will eventually "vanish." (right) That point where this occurs is conventionally called a vanishing point.
Every object extends outward in various directions. The fact is, a vanishing point only represents a direction an object points away from us.
For that reason, it should just be called a direction point instead.
One might even think of the direction point as the direction that something points.
As such, everything going in the same direction will converge to the same direction point. Note how each side of this square goes off toward one of two different directions, each with its own direction point. (left)
Despite all of the complex definitions in every how to draw tutorial I have seen about the vanishing point, I have never come across a single one which stated that simple fact.
After its discovery, most artists only understood how to use one vanishing point near the center of their picture which then came to represent where everything is moving away from us. (right) Even when more vanishing points came into use later, this idea of it having a depth and distance-related function has persisted.
At best, any other how to draw tutorial will define the vanishing point as being:
"That point at which parallel lines appear to converge into the distance." (top pic)
But the only relevance of those parallel lines, which are mentioned in every single vanishing point definition, is that parallel lines point in the same direction. After all, that's what parallel means.
This was the only hint that direction was a part of the process, with any emphasis on it having been missed and placed on distance instead.
But really, every individual direction on an object has a direction point somewhere and so we do not need two or more parallel lines for these points to exist. (below) Still, knowing this is rarely useful, giving parallel lines more emphasis.
Converging lines have the separate function of outlining forms, yet are always part of the vanishing point's definition in every how to draw tutorial. But without those converging lines a vanishing point has nothing "vanishing" there to justify its name.
The subject of "linear perspective" is based on using converging lines to suggest depth. (top pic) As it turns out, the conventional definition of vanishing point stated earlier is really much more than a simple dot. It is, in fact, describing that overall system of linear perspective!
Since these are two separate things being assigned to one dot, the vanishing point should just be called a "direction point" with those converging parallel lines given their own name. Guide lines is the simplest and most descriptive term used, being that they guide a form's directions and shape.
Next, observe that a direction point functions equally well with objects that are all lined up in one direction. (left) This direction point takes into account, not the directions of each object, but all of those objects as a whole.
As shown here, that direction can be entirely different from any of the directions contained in those objects. Strangely, this is something I have never seen suggested before in any how to draw tutorial.