Illustrator CS5 now has a set of tools for perspective drawing. A system of 2D drawing that has its origins in the 15th century, its language comes from engineering and architecture. Unlike Illustrator’s Extrude & Bevel, Revolve and Rotate tools, it is not in the strictest sense of the term 3D.

This tutorial explores how to set up a perspective grid, draw directly on to the grid, then map existing artwork in a perspective plane. Beyond the creation of visuals, perspective drawing can lead to new ways to develop logos and icons that play on the ambiguity of 2D space.

Previously, using 2D artwork to make 3D visuals had been a convoluted process that required CAD skills and extra software. Let’s take a look at what Illustrator can do now.

1. Arrange Your Workspace  Let’s start this tutorial by creating a new blank document. So, File > New and in the New Document window choose Print from the New Document Profile menu and A4, in landscape, will work well. Next set the Workspace; chose Window > Workspace > Essentials, here the Palettes have been expanded. Then from View > Perspective Grid, chose Show Grid.

2. Set Your Grid  The menu various options found under Perspective Grid allow us to Define Grid…, you may find you visit here just to change the opacity of the grid. Rather than key in parameters here, we’ll use the Perspective Grid Tool to set the grid. Though do note the option to save customised grids for future use, if you so wish.

3. Perspective Grid Tool  Students of technical drawing will understand One Point, Two Point and Three Point Perspective. We’ll stick with the default of Two Point. Configure this grid using the Perspective Grid Tool. This is in the Tools panel. Hovering the cursor will cause the Tool labels to appear. Use Tearoff, so Perspective Grid and the Perspective Selection Tool become a floating palette. 

4. Changing Perspective  The default perspective won’t suit our needs. Let’s change it. Make sure you have Perspective Grid Tool selected. Note a lot of handles have appeared all over the Perspective Grid. If you click and drag a few handles you’ll see what they do. The Horizon line is the higher of the two lines with diamonds at the end, move this upward.