Have you ever tried to design an interior space but wanted to know what it would look like in real life? Here is a guide on how to draw expressive interiors using two-point perspective. As entertaining as it would be to live in a paper-flat world, we see and understand the world in physical volumes and three-dimensions. Perspective drawing is a handy designer trick that helps to visualize space beyond a two-dimensional floor plan. It’s something I’ve learned from my time drawing for RedInk Homes. If you are not an interior designer, drawing interiors can even be useful when creating backgrounds for character illustrations or even concept sketches for a video game world.
“If you can draw a box, you can draw practically anything in perspective.”
Two-point perspective drawing can be a somewhat of a tricky skill to figure out if you haven’t dabbled in it before, but it is a skill that can be a game changer in your sketching game. If you are a two-point perspective newbie you might also check out our recent post that tackles one-point perspective, Perspective Guides: How to Draw Architectural Street Scenes. So let’s get right into it!
Types of interior spaces
There are infinite types of interior spaces you can possibly draw, and all of them are completely unique. You can create virtually any space you can imagine; cafes, restaurants, bedrooms, bathrooms, libraries — the list is endless.
You can choose to go with a classic (above) or modern interior style (below) to express different settings or eras. If you want a classic old-timey look, you can illustrate classic interiors by adding in formal elements such as barrel vaulted ceilings, ornamented chandeliers and frames, classical moulding. If you want a sleek modern interior, consider rigid frames, contemporary furniture, and large glass planes.
Choosing the right elements will help communicate the story of your illustrated space. A home kitchen interior will have elements that different from a cafe kitchen interior. Although they have the same functions, they are completely unique, and you want to be able to distinguish them from each other because they express completely different narratives.
A home (above) might have a small warm kitchen with an island, cabinets, counters, and less seating compared to a cafe (below) which will have giant counter space, some food on display, group seating, and coffee menus.
Depending on what kind of interior you want to draw, these elements will play an important role in defining character, personality, and style. It’s all up to you! If you are not sure what kind of elements to add in a space, there are a lot of popular resources out there that showcase interiors to drool over. You can soak in some inspiration with websites like Dezeen or Houzz that feature some of the top interior design trends and spaces.
How to draw simple furniture
I remember first year in design school where we would spend hours drawing a perfect cube with our profs repeated iteration of, “If you can draw a box, you can draw practically anything in perspective.” Here is a trick that has helped my drawing immensely every time I would get stuck on how to draw something I have never drawn before. I would simply rough out some boxes till I could use them as building blocks to construct the final form that I wanted.
Drawing furniture is a key component to drawing interiors. Without furniture we would just have plain and boring empty space. Furniture sketching is as easy as drawing a series of boxes and then going in and carving out the details once you have nailed the basic perspective of the drawing. This method is useful when you are planning out where you want to put in your furniture in your interiors because a distorted chair can make or break your whole two-point perspective.
Laying out the foundations in two-point perspective
An easy way to lay out the main foundation of your two-point perspective space is with the perimeter walls themselves. Once you have carved out your space, it becomes a lot easier to understand your perspective and lay out the fun details like windows, furniture, decor and all that good stuff.
Start by creating a new layer in SketchBook Pro with the horizon line at the centre of your canvas. This is where your two viewpoints are located. I like to re-adjust my viewpoints slightly off the page so the lines don’t become completely dramatized at extreme angles. I then add in the the eyeline slightly above the horizon line in order to get a sense of how a person would fit into the space I am creating. Locating both these lines will help you get a sense of scale when you begin drawing your space, especially when you are adding in doors and furniture.
I like to begin the sketch by drawing a line vertically downward that represents a corner in the room. I find that it makes it easier to find where exactly you are going to throw in your floor and ceiling lines. Next you can add in your ceiling extending from the top point of the vertical line and floor lines extending from the bottom point of the vertical line. This first step can help your brain to begin to translate the 2D drawing into a 3D space.
Continue to carve in the bare bones of your space by adding outlines of different volumes that will define the walls, windows, doors, and ceiling fixtures. I wanted to create a glass atrium entrance for my library with a dropped ceiling fixture, so I roughed in a few simple boxes to show where these elements will be. I also added in the outlines of the doors and windows.
Here I start to add in some of the the fine details like mullions on the glass walls and frames for the doors. Remember this is a very rough outline of the elements you want to include in your space which is good practice for getting your perspectives on point without thinking about the all finicky details.
Once you have all the elements you want you can start to outline the final details. Remember to add in depths of your objects like the window and door frames others your drawing will appear flat. Two-point perspective drawing is a completely active drawing exercise. You need to constantly be thinking about which direction the lines will go and to what viewpoint they will converge so your drawing will make sense.
On a new layer, roughly position your furniture by, once again, drawing in boxes in order to add some context. It is a good way to get your perspectives right without fully committing to tedious line work. If you don’t like how it looks, erase away and try it again on another layer.
The next step is to turn down the background opacity and begin to add in the details, paying attention to how objects overlap. I added in a reception desk, computer, tables, chairs, couches, a bookshelf, and modern light fixtures. Putting the right elements in your space can instantly change the atmosphere and context of your drawing. This is my favourite part because I get to see all the fruits of labour come together and become a whole cohesive sketch. It’s time to add in all your favourite furnishings without all the heavy lifting. Drawing in the aesthetics is always the fun part if you are someone like me who instantly fangirls and sheds a tear over beautifully designed objects and interiors. You can get creative and invent your own furniture and fixtures or even draw inspiration from your favourite magazines.
Humans naturally don’t have x-ray vision so we need to get rid of all these overlapping lines! I selected the background outline and erased any lines that I didn’t want to show through the furniture. Once that is done, you will have your finished two-point perspective interior outline looking great and professional!