Righting the Wrongs

Last week I posted a drawing with perspective errors.  How many did you find?  Here’s a numerical list of the errors I purposely drew incorrectly.  Read below for the explanations:


1.  From where the viewer is looking at this scene the ellipse of the flower planter would appear narrower on top, and more curved on the bottom.

2.  The siding boards from the cornice down to the top of the awning are evenly spaced at the same angle.  As lines move toward a vanishing point, they must get closer together and change their angle.

3, 4.  The bottom edges of the windows on the door should move toward the same vanishing point, as should the mullions on the bay window because everything within a parallel plane moves toward the same vanishing point.

5, 6, 7.  This horizontal lines of each of the windows all appear to be going to a different vanishing points which would be fine if it was a wonky building – but it’s not.

8. The sign that juts out perpendicularly to the side must go to the same vanishing point as the side of the building which is perpendicular to the street; not to mention that because it’s just slightly above eye level, it should be nearly parallel to the horizon line.

9.  The lines on the side of the third building are all parallel to the edge of the paper.  That’s a no-no!

10.   When things get farther away from us, they get closer together.  Note that not only the roof details are farther apart, but the farthest window is wider than the closer one.  Oops!

11. A circle in perspective should be some form of an ellipse.

12.  Stairs are generally perpendicular or parallel to the side of a building and thus use the same vanishing points.  The line that’s incorrect here is the top rail along the landing at the top of the stairs.  Because that’s incorrect, it makes the far hand rail incorrect.   This is a good example of how one incorrect line can lead to another.

13.  Even the curb of the sidewalk must get narrower as it extends into the distance.

14.    The angle on the bottom of the roof edge is  more slanted than the top of the angle.  How can that be when the bottom of the roof is closer to the horizon line?

15, 16, 17.   All of the horizontal lines on this building should be moving toward the same vanishing point.

18.  No matter how small a mistake is, it will stand out if it’s wrong.  This little corner of the cornice must go to the left vanishing point.

Perhaps the better way to explain all of this is to show the correct drawing.  Here is a much improved line drawing.


It’s amazing what a few vertical lines and a little watercolor can do.





  1. Thanks, my husband and I enjoyed trying to find all of the errors. We found quite a few but not all of them. Your explanations helped me learn alot so when I went to an Urban Sketch crawl in Seattle Sunday I felt better about my sketch of a couple of buildings.

  2. I’ve begun a study of Picasso’s work, and I’m noticing that from the point of view of perspective he seems to have got things “wrong” more often than he got them “right.” But it seems we value his work for that very reason. I’ve been wrestling with the language to find two terms that would characterize these features in a less pejorative way, and I can’t quite capture them. Any suggestions?

    1. Picasso and many others make a point of contradicting and exploiting traditional art. In fact, there are those who consider that the goal of art. Intention might be one word that answers your question. Do we draw for reaction, for personal expression or simply to develop new skills? The beauty of art is that it is totally individual and unique to the artist. I’m going to keep thinking about this and I’ll let you know what other words I come up with. Thanks for asking!

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