What is a vanishing point?

When you draw or paint, the vanishing point is the point where things "disappear" into the distance. If you draw a train track, for instance, it will be wider toward the front (bottom) of the paper, and narrow as you go farther back (up), if you are trying to create perspective. The lines of the track, parallel in real life, will meet at the imaginary vanishing point, which is often a place not even on the paper or canvas.

A vanishing point is a point in a perspective drawing to which parallel lines not parallel to the image plane appear to converge. The number and placement of the vanishing points determines which perspective technique is being used. The concept was first used by Renaissance artists such as Donatello, Masaccio and Leonardo da Vinci.

  • linear perspective is a drawing with 1-3 vanishing points.
  • curvilinear perspective is a drawing with either 4 or 5 vanishing points, in 5 point perspective the vanishing points are mapped into a circle with 4 vanishing points at the cardinal headings N,W,S,E and one at the circle origin.
  • reverse perspective is a drawing with vanishing points that are placed outside the painting with the illusion that they are "in front of" the painting.

Vanishing points can also refer to the point in the distance where the two verges of a road appear to converge. This is often used to help assess the upcoming curves in the road; to judge the radius and therefore the entry speed and optimum line. If the vanishing point moves towards you or to your sides, the curve is tightening. If the vanishing point moves away from you or comes to center, the curve is straightening.
A vanishing point is the point where parallel lines seem to meet when represented in perspective.
The point at which receding parallel lines viewed in perspective appear to converge.