Most perspective tutorials I've encountered cover the basics of one, two, and three point perspective. However, they fail to discuss more complicated scenes in which there may be multiple horizon lines (i.e. any picture of hilly San Francisco illustrates my confusion!)

For instance, where are the horizon lines and vanishing points located in the following images?

Example 1

Example 2

  • 2
    Globally there's only one horizon line, but planes (roads in your example) can be oriented differently in space and have local VPs. If you want to find VPs for a rotated plane, you find them the same way you normally would: by finding intersections Jan 20, 2020 at 7:55
  • What if you were constructing a similarly hilly scene without reference? Would each hill represent an independent plane with its own set of vanishing points? Jan 23, 2020 at 6:10
  • If I’d wanted objects to exist on this plane, sure. Cars or, dunno, boxes. Buildings for instance are aligned to horizon, so for something like windows a ‘usual’ grid would be used, but a base of a building on a hill would use this hill grid. Jan 23, 2020 at 7:55

1 Answer 1


The perspective grid is a crutch. When your drawing gets more complex than a mere box you can not rely on a grid anymore. A detailed scene might need a hundred or so grids. But a lot of art can still get a lot of mileage out of restricting themseves.

Instead of a grid start constructing your scene by projecting items. This allows you to build a wanishing point separately for each item as neccesery.

  • How is it that a a sufficiently detailed scene would need more than one grid - don't all objects in a scene need to fall on the same grid regardless of the complexity? Even when things aren't boxes, they can still be placed inside of invisible boxes, which can then be placed in the grid correctly Jan 20, 2020 at 14:57
  • @superluminal yes and no. any scene has a unlimited number of grids or none depends on how you look at it. The grids purpose is to help you divide space. It can be easily shown that there is no such thing as 1 point perspective. Just perspective, 1 point perspective and 2 point perspective are the same thing, just rotated around the ground plane. Arguably no such thing either as vertical being infinite so all perspective should be 3 point perspectives.
    – joojaa
    Jan 20, 2020 at 15:11
  • @superluminal proof
    – joojaa
    Jan 20, 2020 at 17:35
  • Do you have sources for your tip about projecting items? Referring to the pictures of SF, would each hill be considered an independent plane with its own vanishing point(s)? That would be quite tedious Jan 23, 2020 at 6:09

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