Starting Out With Perspective Drawing – What Paper To Use And Why?

by AVA
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During my first year at university studying interior design, I did a great deal of free hand and technical drawing work as was required by the syllabus and also the lecturers from the course, who were established designers themselves.

It was a really great course and at the time – which was the 1980’s – we did all our drawing work on large A0 drawing boards, something that is not so common to do these days, (due to the meteoric rise of the computer) and spent ages drawing lots of interesting things such as plans, side views of buildings, technical drawings of furniture, exhibition stands, film sets, all sorts of stuff, all of which we had to design first. They were always on large sheets of tracing paper too.

Then we started to learn perspective drawing, and these too were drawn on tracing paper, executed with the exactness and rigidity of technique just like all the subject matter we had produced before.

Now I had always felt that the way our lecturers wanted us to produce perspective drawings – precise and rigid – was very restricting and long-winded, especially since it made the subject matter more difficult to see developing on the sheet of paper, due to the laborious style we had to draw them in.

‘There has to be a quicker way of doing this’, I thought to myself, and there was! As a test, I took a look at the big ‘layout paper’ pad I had which was part of the equipment list we needed to have for sketching. I used a sheet of this to draw my perspective drawing and suddenly I saw a huge difference.

Instead of laboring over a tracing paper drawing, I would instead use white layout paper with either a pencil or special fibre-tipped pen to draw quick, lively looking sketches which were easier to see, simply because they were on a white background (Duh!!)

But that was not all. You see, because layout paper is semi-translucent nature, it can be used almost like tracing paper, by overlaying a fresh sheet of layout on top of a previously drawn sheet underneath. And because you could see the drawing underneath quite well, its was easy to produce rapid, fluid and lively looking drawings at will, with none of the forced engineering style ‘only use one sheet of paper’ approach that we had to get used to.

So what’s my tip? Well, when starting out on your first perspectives, choose Layout paper. Buy an A3 size pad by Daler or other recognized brand and the following step is what you do: Take out a sheet, fold it in half and then carefully tear the sheet along the folded line.

You will now have two sheets, both of which are A4 in size. Take one sheet and tape it down onto your desk or drawing board (landscape) with masking tape (any diy store should sell this).

Choose your subject matter; start simple. Draw a chair, a camera, something boxy looking and start with that. Try not to get bogged down with your line work. Instead draw quickly and develop a fluid style.

when your drawing is starting to look full of construction lines, lay the other blank sheet of paper on top, tape it down and then produce your final piece by tracing over the ‘right’ lines which you will see though the top layout paper layer. Once finished, add you colour work in your desired medium, whether crayon chalk pastel or marker pen.

with a bit of practice you will come to really enjoy this method of drawing perspectives, since it allows you to correct mistakes by the overlaying of a new sheet of paper and drawing clean lively lines, instead of rubbing out extra lines that you don’t want when all drawn on a single sheet of paper. And your hands don’t get dirty either!

Once you’ve got the hang of it, move up to a ‘bleed proof’ marker pad again A3 size. This is slightly denser than layout paper and slightly more expensive, but allows you to use marker pens if you so desire. You could of course just scan your drawings into Photoshop, Gimp or some other graphics programme and apply your colours that way, if you know how to do that.

I hope this article is helpful to you and if you would like a little more info, then check out my website where you’ll find some great tutorials, a gallery and an e-book which I am sure you will enjoy.

Thanks for reading!




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