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To understand Freehand Drawing, you need a thorough understanding of perspective: how to draw different objects correctly in perspective, how the perspective points work and how to construct each volume just by guesstimating the perspective.

To make things easy to understand and then apply – we got a horizon line, which is set by default at the standard human line of sight.

If the standard person has 1.80 meters in all our drawings (and unlike snails,we humans do not have eyes on the top of our head), then the standard horizon line should be lower than the human height…. so that puts it at 1.65 meters.

Relating to the horizon line, all objects can fit into three categories:

They are below the horizon line – that makes them fit into a ‘top down view’ like you are literally looking down at them.

Some examples of objects like this? The computer or laptop you are seeing this lesson from… more than likely it is sitting on a desk somewhere so if you are standing up it is below your horizon line.

Other top down objects – the desk or table you are sitting on- tables usually are 70 cms tall or 120 if you are watching this at a bar somewhere…

So a table or bar surface fit in a top down box perspective as it is much lower than the standard horizon line.

2.) They are above the horizon line, so if objects are above the horizon line this means you can see the bottom face of each object and that perspective is a Bottom-Up Perspective.

If you are inside a building… look up at the ceiling. Would you agree that the ceiling is a really flat box which floats above your head, so is in a bottom-upperspective.”

Other than that maybe there is a ceiling lamp nearby… however,curvilinear the lamp, it as well fits into a bottom-up perspective.

3.)An object that is so large that it goes above and below your perspective line is in a Building View perspective.Just stop for a moment and look out the window at all buildings surrounding you… these all fit into the ‘building view’ type of perspective.

Obviously, it all depends on the composition of your image – you could have a small object but if you look really close at it might seem like it is drawn in building view perspective.

Top Down Box Perspective 

We will start with ‘top down’ perspective view…

Draw a horizon line, choose two perspective points (careful that one is on the page while the other one is off the page, thus ending up with an unsymmetrical perspective).

Draw the top of the box, choose the height (relating to the front vertical edge as it is closest to the viewer so most relevant for choosing the proper object height).

Draw all the construction lines (resist the temptation to skip the back lines) then thicken the contour lines, and that’s it.

So, ashort recap: horizon line, two perspective points, top face of the box, heights, bottom of the box, and thicken contour lines.

Be careful at one thing – when you are drawing your first perspective, youwill more than likely end up drawing a really small drawing.

That is inevitable as you are a beginner at the moment and still a bit uncomfortable with drawing.

Draw a large perspective that will fill the entire A4 page.

This is what you need to be doing for now; we will be focusing on cast shadows and hatching a bit later…

Bottom Up Box Perspective 

Bottom-up perspectives are symmetrical to the top-down perspectives.

Start off with the horizon line being drawn at the bottom third of the page, then constructing the bottom of our box.

Then we will go for drawing heights and are the mirrored line construction of the standard top-down perspective… the only difference being that you start with constructing the bottom of the box and you move up from there, in contrast to starting off with the top of the box and going down.

Building View Box Perspective 

For a ‘Building View’ perspective, you can start off with the base of the box and then go up just as before.

Just remember, you need to measure the height of the box on its closest edge – this way you will have an accurate measurement of the perspective height.

Top Down Hatch Shadows 

Hatching a top-down perspective is really simple: just construct an estimated cast shadow on the short side, then hatch the shadowed face adjacent to the cast shadow.

Hopefully, by now, you have realised that the shorter face of the box is always in shadow, while the longer one is directly hit by light.

Also, the intensity of the cast shadow should be 10 to 8 (according to how close the shadow is in perspective), and that of the shadowed face should vary from 5 to 3, following the same rationale.

Hatch Top Down Background

The top-down perspective follows a similar approach, the difference being that a top-down perspective might have a cast shadow that goes about both faces of the object.

Building View Hatch 

We will not get too labour-intensive here, so this time we will not be hatching the full page, but rather a rectangle.

Truth be told, these backgrounds are sometimes borderline ‘fluff drawing’ elements… so we need to do them not to make our drawing take twice as much time or to distract attention from the main elements of our composition… but to make our initial volume stand out.

A smaller rectangle will suffice to achieve that effect for now.

Bottom Up Hatch

Following the same line of reasoning, we will draw a circular background this time… this will add more dynamism to your drawing and take less time to finish.

Although hatching and line drawing are essential when you are starting off, it is best that you invest your energy in things that require higher levels of mental focus and sharper skill sets – such as getting the general idea of the perspective by.

Download Assignment PDF

Training Information

Difficulty: Complete Newbie

Video Time: 25:20

Lesson Objectives:
– The three types of perspective.
– The principles of hatching and shading.
– Finishing a complete A4 perspective in line drawing and hatching



  • Draw large, clear and confident drawings – these box perspectives are the foundation for all other freehand exercises to come
  • Draw everything 100% by freehand (without a ruler). No matter how crooked the lines, you draw them by freehand until they look acceptable – this will build up your hand drawing prowess for later

Common Mistakes To Avoid


  • You will draw small perspectives. This is a very common beginner problem – to counter it remember that you need to extend the horizon line out of your page and have one point on the horizon line extension
  • You will mess up at least one of the three perspective views. This again is a beginner mistake – remember that this exercise is not just about drawing, you need to develop your spatial vision as well

Other Resources

Back to: Advanced Drawing and Design > Month One - Introduction To Arch Drawing And Design

Disclaimer: Results will vary, and you should not use this information as a substitute for getting formal architectural education. Good luck! ©2008-2017 Architectural Graphics Ltd, All Rights Reserved. "Freehand Architecture" and "Advanced Drawing And Design" are trademarks used by Architectural Graphics Ltd.

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