Interior sketching

What is perspective in drawing? Perspective basics for interior designers

what is perspective drawing

Here, we will familiarize ourselves with the most extraordinary and most exciting field of descriptive geometry and will discover two main types of perspective – the most important skill in interior sketching.


Perspective is an area of descriptive geometry. Not many people are keen on learning descriptive geometry at school and for many it is synonymous with boring technical tasks and dull routine. Perspective is an intriguing subject, full of surprising secrets and is absolutely essential for interior designers. It is this knowledge that will let you work wonders on paper allowing you to create exciting views of interiors and to reflect your ideas in the most effective way.

Perspective is the basic and most fundamental knowledge for sketching. It will help you deliver your projects expertly. Without it you will get nowhere – if you don’t know the laws of perspective, then you lack the foundations, which means you cannot move on, and no rendering technique or stylistic device will help you out if you don’t have a clear understanding of how to plot a space. The eye of a man has an admirable organization and it is thanks to the laws of geometry, that we can put down on paper or visualize the real world in the way our brain perceives it.

2 point perspective interior

Types of perspective

What types of perspective are there and which ones are of greatest importance to interior sketching?

There are many types of perspective. To name but a few: aerial perspective, frontal perspective (or 1-point perspective), angular perspective (or 2-points perspective or oblique view), perspectives with 3, 4, 5 and even 6 vanishing points. So, which ones are of the greatest value to interior designers?

First of all, it is the frontal perspective (it is sometimes called a perspective with one vanishing point), secondly, there is oblique view or angular perspective (with two vanishing points) and, finally, aerial perspective (or tonal perspective). If the first two allow us to correctly draw an interior, the last one will enable you to fill your drawing with air and convey three-dimensionality of space. Once we master the basics, we can address more complex types of combined perspective – with three vanishing points, and various three-dimensional effects. These are exciting perspective techniques which add more expression to a drawing.





There is one artist that I want to point your attention to whose mastery of perspective I particularly admire. I am talking about Dutch graphic artist Maurits C. Escher. His work is simply mind-boggling! My favourite work is his extraordinary self-portrait (check it here), where he is drawing himself while looking in the mirror sphere which also reflects the interior. If you remove the ball, the room appears in 1-point perspective, but because the room is reflected in the spherical mirror surface of the ball, it causes amazing effects and distortions of the space.

Escher’s art is one of the brightest examples of mathematical laws of perspective coupled with the author’s imagination. Escher published a book, “Impossible Worlds”, where he plays with geometric laws, planes, creating inconceivable spaces. Scientists are well-versed in the beauty of mathematics and Escher shows all of us that beauty.

We adore chaos because we love to produce order.          
— Maurits Cornelis Escher

Once you grasp the rules of construction of geometry of a space, you can start experimenting with them. I call it ‘playing with perspective’. All sketching masters have excellent command of this knowledge. So let’s get going and discover it for ourselves!

1 point perspective interior sketch

1-Point Perspective 

In the 1-point perspective, we have a vanishing point, which is always on the horizon line. This vanishing point is where all the lines converge to (that’s why it is called 1-point perspective). When we draw an interior, we see three walls: one that is parallel to the picture plane (frontal wall) and two side walls.

Basically, 1-point perspective is linear perspective and it comes into play when your line of sight is parallel to the horizontal set of lines that converge upon a single point in the distance and perpendicular to the other set of lines in the view. It is the simplest type of perspective because we deal with only one vanishing point.

We are forever indebted for this knowledge to the Italian Renaissance. In the second half of the XVth century, Renaissance artists and mathematicians developed the linear perspective theory and brought precision and mathematics into mainstream art. Viva Italia!

Before that, artists drew ‘by eye’ or used Inverted Perspective (Bizantine Perspective), which is an art form unique to pre-renaissance religious art and is full of embedded meaning. As an example, look at Andrey Rublev’s “Trinity” and observe how the space appears flat and converges towards the viewer.

Thanks to Renaissance and its masters, who were not only prolific artists, sculptors, architects, but also prodigious mathematicians, the laws of perspective were discovered. Brunelleschi, Alberti, Masaccio, Ghiberti, Piero della Francesca introduced the use of perspective, and, in doing so, forever changed further development of art.

Renaissance masters were so fluent in the complexities of geometric construction that they were able to apply their knowledge of perspective to perform most complicated tasks and solve quite challenging problems. For example, painting of a ceiling of a dome has to take into account a variety of factors: first, people look at frescos from below, which significantly alters their perception. They also had to take into account the curved shape of the dome and correct for distortions that arise. Apart from that, there is a host of technical aspects such as erection of scaffolding, working at a high altitude, temperature, humidity (in the case of frescos, the humidity is very high, as painting is performed over damp plaster), technique of mixing colours, a problem of lighting, and even the position of a painter’s body (for instance, Michelangelo almost completely lost his sight, while painting the Sistine Chapel).

My drawing for the book  “The SKETCH“

My drawing for the book “The SKETCH“


When should we use 1-point perspective?

1-point perspective is an ideal choice for depicting public spaces: bars, cafes, restaurants, hotel lobbies, as well as spacious residential interiors: sitting rooms, dining rooms, halls, and lounges, etc. This view lets you represent your idea on a drawing by showing the maximum amount of space. Suppose, we have a restaurant layout, rectangular in shape: it would be sufficient to draw two 1-point perspective views – in one direction as you enter and one in the reverse. If we were to use a 2-point perspective view to demonstrate the design idea, we would have to draw all four corners of the space, plus a general view, a view from above, or even make a model (at least 5 sketches in total). In contrast, the 1-point perspective view allows you to show the idea with only two drawings.

We can change the position of the vanishing point in relation to the centre of the picture plane placing it anywhere on the horizon line. It can be right in the centre, or it can be shifted to the right or to the left. This will make the picture asymmetric. This adds dynamism to the composition and allows you to reveal one of the walls to a greater extent. However, when the vanishing point is right in the centre, both walls are shown to the same degree, and, thus, appear balanced. In fact, it is this placement of the vanishing point that is often used in classical drawings of interiors. Classics loves symmetry.

1 point perspective interior

2-Point Perspective 

Another type of perspective important for designers is the perspective with two vanishing points. It is often called an «Oblique View». In this view, horizon contains two vanishing points, and the picture reveals two walls of a space. You can move these points on the horizon line, but it is important that the distance between them should remain the same fixed value (usually this distance equals to the diagonal of the picture plane). When you have understood all the most important basic laws of perspective, you will be able to experiment with them, creating drawings with the most effective angles.

2-point perspective is a linear perspective in which there are two vanishing points on the horizon line. This type of perspective appears when your line of sight is at an angle to the horizontal sets of lines that converge upon points in the distance.

This type is usually more dynamic compare to 1-point, because we are able to see the volumes of objects.

My drawing for the book  “The SKETCH“

My drawing for the book “The SKETCH“


In which case 2-point perspective is the best choice?

It is indispensable when we want to show a space containing one main object, a dominant feature. In the bedroom, it is a bed. In the study, it is a desk. In the nursery, it is a cot. And so on…

This perspective is ideal for small spaces, or when we want to draw in detail a specific corner of an interior. It is important that we draw this object in great detail. Also it is the oblique view that allows us to show furnishings and other separate objects. I often use it to specify upholstery. A picture is worth a thousand words and it is way easier to send an image along with an order for a piece of furniture depicting exactly what I had in mind.

My drawing for the book  “The SKETCH“

My drawing for the book “The SKETCH“


Read more about perspective drawing in my book “The SKETCH“ (Amazon paper-based version or PDF).

Well, my creative friend, I hope you enjoyed this article, please let me know your thoughts on it in the comments below.

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© Olga Sorokina, 2018


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My 10 rules of interior sketching

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1. Foundations of everything

Without solid knowledge of the principles of perspective nothing will ever work out. Study the method, refer to my book often and make sure you understand it completely. For the moment concentrate on the frontal perspective – it is a very powerful and hugely useful technique.

2. Horizon line

Remember, that the horizon line level has an effect on the general impression of your sketch. Whether the horizon is at the eye level of a seated person or at 2 meter level above the floor, it is an absolutely critical decision for the whole of the drawing and for how different planes are revealed.

3. Composition

A well-chosen view angle and the knowledge of composition are most crucial! They will contribute greatly to your sketch; by making your project look elegant and allowing you to present it to the best effect.

4. 3D Effect

To be sure, knowledge and application of the rules of light and shadows, the aerial perspective, tonal gradations and texturing are key. It is these things that give volume and expressiveness to a drawing.

5. The Trained Eye

Examine as many works and drawings as possible, learn wherever you can: YouTube tutorials or Skillshare classes, drawing exhibitions, read books about design, drawing and illustration. You have to become satiated with visual references for your own new and unique style to emerge.

interior sketching markers.jpeg

6. Materials

Use quality materials. You don’t need a great number, but make sure they are top quality. For a successful start, you will need 7-10 colours of professional markers (with 3-4 of them being tones of grey), a pencil, a black liner, a white pen, an eraser, and paper. Later on, when you start becoming more involved with sketching, don’t pinch pennies and buy Copic sets.

7. Techniques

The classic techniques of sketching will always be in high esteem: this are watercolours, Chinese ink, coloured pencils and pastel. But experience tells me that the easiest, quickest and the most effective tool in interior sketching is markers: they give wonderful results, even when you use them for the first time.

8. Masters

If you want to become proficient at sketching as quickly as possible, learn from the masters of the craft: take note of their devices, copy their techniques, and use this rich foundation of knowledge to develop your own unique and inimitable style.

9. Customers

Remember, that all customers are guided by their emotions when they make decisions, which is why your portfolio and sketches must be “savoury to the eye”. Assess your portfolio one more time and ask yourself: «Would I buy it?» If the answer is «No», burn it and make something spectacular instead!

10. Everyday practice

Draw every day and train your eye and hand as much as possible. If you start practicing every day for approximately 30 minutes, it will take you about 3 weeks to achieve a pretty high level of mastery of your hand and your pictures will start showing confidence which is the main quality of a professional, since you can always tell a pro from a beginner by the confidence of their lines and hatchings. Confidence only comes with experience!

Learn more about interior design drawing from my book «The SKETCH» (available on

P.S. Please share this blog-post with your friends! They would be glad you did. Thanks in advance, you're awesome!

© Olga Sorokina, 2017


Which brands of markers are the best choice for interior sketching?

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markers for interior sketching


So if you are reading this blog post chances are that you are a newbie in sketching and hand rendering, maybe you are going to buy your first set of markers and now you’re asking yourself a question: Where do I start? Well, here is my strategy: Less is More.

Which colours?

First and foremost, buy basic colours, as you will need them most. For interior sketching, it is better not to use pure, bright colours, but rather tones that are a bit ‘dusty’, ’noble‘ tones. What does that mean? With interiors it is better to choose colours that people would feel comfortable living in. A typical palette would include beige, grey, blue, olive, and woody tones.

You can buy the markers individually or in sets. There are even sets of ready-to-go colour combinations for architects and designers which consist of marker colours that work well with one another.

markers for interior sketching

You first marker selection might be as follows:

  • Light gray (NG 2, Neutral Grey #2)

  • Mid-gray (NG 4)

  • Dark gray (NG 7)

  • Light beige (or vanilla)

  • Olive

  • Dark brown (chocolate)

  • Black

As you can see, there are seven colours in all, of which three are grey shades. Greys occupy a special place in interior sketching. Firstly, they are used to give background colour to the entire sketch. Grey markers differ not only in tone, but also in warmth and coldness: there are Neutral Greys, Cool Greys and Warm Greys. To start with, you will need Neutral Greys. Usually they are marked by ‘N’ with a number: the higher the number, the darker the tone.

materials for interior sketching

What brand of markers to buy?

One of the first questions people often ask in my online sketching classes is about which materials they should use. What brand of markers is the best? How do various brands of markers differ from one another? 

Up until now, I have tested 5 brands: Promarker, Copic, TOUCH, Stylefile markers and Chartpak. All of them are good. These firms make professional quality markers that are perfect for drawing and are non toxic.

interior sketch markers

If I was to pick a favourite, it would be Copic. They have an extremely wide array not only of colours but also of marker tips. These include ‘Classic’ markers, ‘Extra Wide’ ones, the thin ‘Ciao’ markers and remarkable ‘Sketch’ (the last two have brush points). Maybe it is Copic Сiao that has influenced my technique most of all.

I did this drawing with Copic Ciao markers

I did this drawing with Copic Ciao markers

Check my interior drawings in the PORTFOLIO section on the website.

Firstly, they have a thin body that is very convenient to hold in the hand. However, the main difference is that on one side there is a wide tip (incidentally, a bit narrower than a Copic Sketch, Promarker or Stylefile), and at the other end there is a brush tip, also known as the ‘super brush’, which truly lives up to its name! It is the brush that lets you make absolutely photo-realistic effects and fantastic not only for sketching but also for landscape drawings, abstract painting, portraits, architectural sketches and even for calligraphy. Copic markers can be refilled and that is their tremendous advantage over the other brands. Although they are the most expensive markers available, in the long term Copics are the most cost efficient.

Promarker is also very good. They are quite similar to Stylefile and Copic Classic. But these are single-use markers, which cannot be refilled.

Chartpak is markedly different from the markers mentioned above. These markers have one very wide tip, that is highly convenient for interior sketching. The only disadvantage is that these markers have a rather strong smell of solvent.

copic markers sketching

A couple of more tips

  • Before buying a marker, test it in the art supplies shop and find the marker that suits you best. If you don’t have this opportunity, watch videos on marker brands on YouTube (f. ex mine is «Olga Sorokina») – this will help you make a decision about which materials are most suitable for you.

  • When you realize that sketching is ‘your thing’, be ready to invest into quality materials, training courses and books. This way you can develop your skills to become very good at sketching. This will happen quite fast. Sketching will be of great use in your work and will raise your professional skills level.

  • It is recommended that you store markers horizontally – this will extend their service life.

  • Storage and transportation: keep your markers away from the sun. If you are going on a trip, pack them into your hand-carried baggage, because the low temperatures in the baggage compartment will have adverse effect on the pigments inside the markers.

Learn more about markers from my book «The SKETCH» (available on


P.S. Please share this blog-post with your friends! They would be glad you did. Thanks in advance, you're awesome!

© Olga Sorokina, 2017

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