In Illustrator CS5, you can easily draw or render artwork
in perspective using a feature set that works on established laws
of perspective drawing.
Perspective grid allows you to approximately represent a scene
on a flat surface, as it is naturally perceived (by the human eye).
For example, a road or a pair of railway tracks, which seem to meet
or vanish in the line of vision.
The following features in Illustrator facilitate drawing in perspective:
Utilities to define or edit one, two, and three vanishing
point perspectives in a document.
Control different perspective-defining parameters interactively.
Create objects directly in perspective.
Bring existing objects in perspective.
Transform objects in perspective (move and scale objects).
Move or duplicate objects toward a perpendicular plane (perpendicular movement).
Define real work objects and draw objects with the specified
real world measurements in perspective.
For a video on perspective drawing, see www.adobe.com/go/lrvid5205_ai_en.
Illustrator provides presets for one-point, two-point,
and three-point perspectives.
Perspective Grid Presets
A. 1-point perspective B. 2-point
perspective (default) C. 3-point
To select one of the default perspective grid preset, click View>
Perspective Grid and then select from the required preset.
To define grid settings, click View > Perspective Grid
> Define Grid. In the Define Perspective Grid dialog box, you
can configure the following attributes for a preset:
To save a new preset, select the Custom option from the Name
Select the type of preset: One Point Perspective, Two Point
Perspective, or Three Point Perspective.
Select the units to measure the grid size. The options are
centimeters, inches, pixels, and points.
Select the grid scale to view or set the artboard and real-world
measurements. To customize the scale, select the Custom option.
In the Custom Scale dialog box, specify the Artboard and Real World
This attribute determines the grid cell size.
Imagine a cube in such an orientation that no face is parallel
to the picture plane (in this case the computer screen). Viewing
Angle is the angle which the right face of this imaginary cube makes
with the picture plane. Therefore, the viewing angle determines
the positions of the left and right vanishing points from the observer.
A viewing angle of 45° implies that the two vanishing points are
equidistant from the line of vision of the observer. If the viewing
angle is greater than 45°, then the right vanishing point is closer
to and the left vanishing point is farther away from the line of
vision and vice versa.
Distance between the observer and the scene.
Specify the horizon height (observer’s eye level) for the
preset. The height of the horizon line from the ground level is
displayed in the smart guide readout.
This option is enabled when you select the three-point perspective.
You can specify the x and y coordinates for the preset in the X
and Y boxes.
To change the colors for the left, right, and horizontal grids,
select the color from the Left Grid, Right Grid, and Horizontal
Grid drop-down lists. You can also select a custom color from using
the Color Selector as well.
Use the Opacity slider, to change the opacity of the grid.
To save the grid as a preset, click the Save Preset button.
To edit grid presets, click Edit > Perspective Grid
Presets. In the Perspective Grid Presets dialog box, select the
preset to edit and click Edit.
Perspective Grid Presets dialog box
The Perspective Grid Preset Options dialog box opens in edit
mode. Enter the new grid setting and click OK to save the new grid
You cannot delete the default presets. To delete a user-defined
preset, click Delete in the Perspective Grid Presets dialog box.
Illustrator also allows you to import and export user-defined
presets. To export a particular preset, click Export in the Perspective
Grid Presets dialog box. To import a preset, click Import.
Illustrator can create only one grid in an Illustrator
document. You can move the grid across artboards using the Ground
level widget while the Perspective Grid tool is selected, to place
it at the required position.
You must select the Perspective Grid tool to perform this
task because the ground level widget is not displayed if this tool
is not selected.
To move the perspective grid do the following:
Select the Perspective Grid tool from the Tools panel
or press Shift+P.
Drag-and-drop the left or right ground level widget on the
grid. When you move the pointer over the ground level point, the
pointer changes to .
Moving the perspective grid across artboards using the left
ground level widget (shown as A)
You can manually adjust vanishing points, grid plane controls,
horizon height, and cell size using the respective widgets. However,
these widgets are only visible with the Perspective Grid tool selected.
To adjust the left and right vanishing points use the left and
right vanishing point widgets. Notice that the pointer changes to
a two-way arrow pointer () when you
move the pointer over the vanishing points.
While adjusting the third vanishing point in 3-point perspective,
holding down the Shift key constrains the movement to vertical axis.
Moving the right vanishing point in a two-point perspective
If you lock the station point using the View > Perspective
Grid > Lock Station Point option, then both the vanishing points
Both vanishing points move when station point is locked.
You can also adjust the left, right, and horizontal grid planes
using the respective grid plane control widgets. The pointer changes
to a two-way arrow (, ) when you
move the pointer over the grid plane controls.
Holding the Shift key while moving the grid planes, constrains
the movement to the extent of cell size.
Adjusting the left and right grid planes in a two-point perspective
If you shift the origin, the x and y coordinates of the horizontal
plane and the x coordinate of vertical planes are affected. When
you select an object in perspective while the grid is visible, the
x and y coordinates displayed in the Transform and Info panels change
with shift in origin. You can also see the change in coordinate
measurements when you draw objects using the rectangle or line group
tools and press Shift, while the relevant grid plane is active.
If you move the mouse over the origin, the pointer changes to .
If you move the ruler origin, you can see the station point.
Changing the ruler origin and viewing the station point
A. Station Point B. Changed
Adjust horizon height to fine-tune the observer's eye-level.
When you move the pointer over the horizon line, the pointer changes
to a vertical two-way arrow .
Adjusting the horizon height in a two-point perspective grid
You can change the grid extent to define the extent of the grid
on the planes. When you move the pointer over the grid extent widgets,
the pointer changes to .
Gridlines are set to display onscreen when there is a 1-pixel
gap in them. Progressive zooming in brings in view more gridlines
that are closer toward Vanishing Point.
Moving the right grid extent away from the right vanishing
point in a two-point perspective grid
You can also adjust the grid extent to increase or decrease the
vertical grid extent.
Adjusting the grid extent to decrease the vertical grid extent
To increase or decrease the grid cell size, use the grid cell
size widget. When you mouse over the grid cell size widget, the
pointer changes to .
When you increase the grid cell size, the number of grid cells
Increasing the grid cell size by dragging the grid cell size
To draw objects in perspective, use the line group tools
or rectangle group tools while the grid is visible. While using
the rectangle or line group tools, you can switch to the Perspective
Selection tool by pressing Cmd (Mac OS) or Ctrl (Windows).
You can also switch the active plane using the keyboard shortcut
1 (left plane), 2 (horizontal plane), and 3 (right plane) with these
The Flare tool is not supported with Perspective Grid.
When you draw an object in perspective, use Smart Guides to align
the object to other objects. The alignment is based on the perspective
geometry of objects. Guides appear as the object approaches the
edge or anchor point of other objects.
You can use numerical values for any of the rectangle or line
group tools (other than the Flare tool). You can specify height
and width values for the object in the same way as you would draw
in regular mode, but the object is drawn in perspective in this
case. Also, the values represent real world dimensions of the objects.
While drawing in perspective, you can use the regular shortcuts
available for drawing objects such as Shift / Alt+drag (Windows)
or Option+drag (Mac OS).
While drawing in perspective, objects can be snapped to grid
lines of the active plane. An object snaps to the grid lines within
1/4th distance of the cell size.
You can enable or disable the Snap to Grid option from View >
Perspective Grid > Snap to Grid.This option is enabled by default.
For a video on drawing artwork in perspective, see www.adobe.com/go/lrvid5211_ai_en.
If you have already created objects, Illustrator provides
the option to attach objects to an active plane on the perspective
To add an object to the left, right, or horizontal grid:
Select the active plane on which you want to place the
object. You can select the active plane using 1, 2, or 3 keyboard
shortcut command or by clicking on one of the faces of the cube
in the Perspective Grid Widget.
Click Object > Perspective > Attach to Active Plane.
Using the Attach to Active Plane command does not affect the
appearance of the object.
For a video on mapping artwork to perspective, see www.adobe.com/go/lrvid5212_ai_en.
If you want to release an object with a perspective view,
click Object > Perspective> Release with Perspective option.
The selected object is released from the associated perspective
plane and is available as a normal artwork.
Using the Release with Perspective command does not affect
the appearance of the object.
When you bring an existing object or artwork into perspective,
the appearance and scale of the selected object changes. To bring
regular objects into perspective, do the following:
Select the object using the Perspective Selection tool.
Select the active plane on which you want to place the object
by using the Plane Switching widget or using the keyboard shortcut
1 (left plane), 2 (horizontal plane), 3 (right plane).
Drag-and-drop the object at the required location.
Use the Perspective Selection
tool to select objects in perspective. The Perspective Selection
tool provides a marquee to select objects using the active plane
You can select between normal marquee and the perspective marquee
after starting to drag using the Perspective Selection tool and
then switch between different planes of the grid using 1, 2, 3,
or 4 keys.
To move objects in perspective, switch to the Perspective
Selection tool (Shift+V) and then either use the arrow keys or the
mouse to drag-and-drop objects.
During the drag loop while moving the objects, changing the
plane using the respective keyboard shortcut changes the object's
You can also move objects in perpendicular direction to the current
object location. This technique is useful when creating parallel
objects such as the walls of a room. For this movement:
Select the object using the Perspective Selection tool.
Keeping the number 5 key pressed, drag the object to the
required position. This action moves the object parallel to its
current location. Using Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) along with
the number 5 key while moving, duplicates the object at the new
location without changing the original object. In Draw Behind mode,
this action creates the object behind the original object.
Moving a rectangle in perpendicular to its initial position
arrow keys do not work when you move objects in perpendicular.
Use the keyboard shortcut, Alt+drag (Windows) or Option+drag
(Mac OS) to copy the object. To constrain the movement in perspective,
press Shift+drag. To specify a precise location where you need to
move the object during perpendicular movement, see Precise
You can also use the Transform Again command (Object > Transform
> Transform Again) or the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+D (Windows)
or Cmd+D (Mac OS) to move objects in perspective. This option also
works when you move object in perpendicular direction.
The keyboard shortcut 5 for perpendicular movement and the
keyboard shortcuts 1,2, and 3 for plane switching while drawing
or moving objects, work only from the main keyboard and not from
the extended numeric keypad.
To move objects in precise perpendicular movement, double-click
the required plane widget using the Perspective Selection tool.
For example, double-click the right plane widget to set the options
in the Right Vanishing Plane dialog box.
Setting options for perpendicular movement of all objects
on the selected grid plane
For precise perpendicular movement, for all objects:
In the Location box, specify the location where the objects
need to be moved. By default, the current location of objects is
displayed in the dialog box.
Select from the following movement options for objects:
If this option is selected, the object does not move when
the grid is repositioned.
If you select this option, then all the objects on the plane move
with the grid movement.
If you select this option, then all the objects on the plane are
copied on the plane.
To move a selected
object in precise perpendicular movement, select the object and
then double-click the required plane widget. In this case, the following
dialog box is displayed:
You can also move objects in perpendicular direction by
dragging the grid plane using grid plane controls. When you move
an object in perpendicular direction, the object is placed parallel
to its existing or current location.
To move an object parallel to its current position:
Select the Perspective Selection tool from the Tools
panel or by pressing Shift+V.
Press Shift and drag the grid plane control depending on
the grid plane where the object is placed.
Moving a rectangle in perpendicular by dragging the right
To create a copy of the object parallel to its current position:
Select the Perspective Selection tool from the Tools
panel or by pressing Shift+V.
Press Alt and drag (Windows) or Option and drag (Mac OS)
the grid plane control depending on the grid plane where the object
The automatic plane positioning feature allows you to create
objects by inferring the height or depth of the object. For example,
to draw a cube, the height of the top face of the cube must be known.
With automatic plane positioning, perspective grid automatically
adjusts the horizontal grid plane to match the height of the top
face of the cube.
Two faces of a cube
Horizontal grid plane is adjusted to the height of left face
of the cube when horizontal grid plane is selected and you place
the pointer on the anchor point using Perspective Selection tool
and press Shift. The other grid planes are hidden temporarily.
After creating the top face of the cube using the rectangle
tool, the grid resumes its original state
Before drawing or placing objects, the object height can be inferred
Other objects by going to one of the anchor points (getting
the anchor label) and pressing Shift, which temporarily hides other
Grid lines by going to the intersection point and pressing
the Shift key. Changing plane in this state brings that plane to
the selected offset.
Once the object is drawn or placed, the inference mode is reset
and all planes are restored to normal visibility.
Using the automatic plane positioning options, you can select
to move the active plane temporarily when you mouse over the anchor
point or gridline intersection point by pressing the Shift key.
The automatic plane positioning options are available in the
Perspective Grid Options dialog box. To display this dialog box,
double-click the Perspective Grid tool icon in the Tools panel.
Automatic Plane Positioning options
When you want to draw or bring objects in perspective at
the same depth or height as an existing object, select the existing
object in perspective and click Object > Perspective > Move
Plane to Match Object to bring the corresponding grid to the desired
height or depth. You can now draw or bring new objects in perspective.
You can scale objects in perspective using the Perspective
Selection tool. While scaling objects in perspective, the following
Scaling is done in the object’s plane. When you scale
an object, the height or distance is scaled based on the object’s
plane and not the current or active plane.
For multiple objects, scaling is done for objects that are
on the same plane. For example, if you select multiple objects on
the right and left plane, then all the objects that are on the same
plane as the object whose bounding box is used for scaling, are
Objects that have been moved perpendicularly, are scaled
on their respective plane and not the current or active plane.
You cannot directly add text and symbols to a perspective
plane, when the grid is visible. However, you can bring text or
symbols into perspective after creating them in normal mode.
To bring text or symbols in perspective, do the following:
Select the existing text or symbol using the Perspective
Selection Tool and drag it to the required position on the active
plane, while the grid is visible.
The Edit Text option is available in the Control panel and
under the Object > Perspective menu. In addition, you can edit
text in isolation mode or by double-clicking the text object.
Control Panel with Edit Text options
A. Edit Text B. Edit Perspective C. Isolate
Edit Symbol option is also available in the Control panel and under
the Object > Perspective menu. In addition, you can edit a symbol
in isolation mode or by double-clicking the object.
Depending on whether you are editing a symbol or
text, the options in the Control panel change to Edit Symbol or
A symbol instance in perspective is the same as an expanded symbol
instance. You can edit a symbol definition just as you would edit
the symbol definition of a flat symbol instance. However, a symbol
definition cannot contain art types that are not supported in perspective
such as raster (images), non-native art, envelope, legacy type,
and gradient mesh.
Functionalities such as replacing a symbol, breaking link
when expanding the a symbol instance, and reset transformation do
not work on symbols in perspective.
As a workaround to replacing a symbol instance, you can Alt+drag
(Windows) or Option+drag (Mac OS) a symbol instance in perspective
and leave it over the symbol in the Symbols panel. However, make
a copy of the symbol before replacing the symbol instance because
when you drag the symbol instance, the previous symbol instance
is permanently deleted from your document.
You can edit or modify text in the same way as is done in the
normal mode. For more information, see Creating
You can configure the Perspective Grid settings using View
> Perspective Grid. The options available include:
This option shows the ruler division only along the true
height line. The gridline every determines the ruler division.
This option allows snapping to gridlines while bringing in perspective,
moving, scaling, and drawing in perspective.
This option restricts the grid movement and other grid editing
using the Perspective Grid tool. Only the visibility and the plane
position can be changed.
When the Lock Station Point option is selected, moving one vanishing
point moves the other vanishing point in sync with the movement.
If not checked, then the movement is independent and the station
point also moves.