How to Create a Perspective Grid in Illustrator

Written by amanda tromley
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Any illustrator who has struggled with drawing a convincing street scene, building or vehicle can make use of the new time-saving perspective grid feature available in Adobe Illustrator CS5. By defining a perspective for your Illustrator document, you can easily draw in precise perspective or map existing artwork to the grid.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Click on the "Perspective Grid" tool in the Tools panel. This will automatically display Illustrator's default two-point perspective grid. Alternatively, press the "Ctrl," "Shift" and "I" keys simultaneously, or click on the "View" menu, hover over "Perspective Grid" and select "Show Grid."

  2. 2

    Click on the "View" menu, hover over "Perspective Grid" and select either "One Point Perspective" or "Three Point Perspective" if you want to change to a different perspective preset.

  3. 3

    Adjust the vanishing points, horizon height, grid planes, grid cell size and grid extent as necessary. You must have the Perspective Grid tool active to make these adjustments onscreen. Alternatively, you may make mathematical adjustments by going to "View," then "Perspective Grid" and selecting "Define Grid."

  4. 4

    Click on the "View" menu, hover over "Perspective Grid" and select "Lock Grid." This step, while optional, will help you avoid making accidental changes to the grid as you draw.

  5. 5

    Click any of the sides of the icon in the Plane Switching Widget to activate the corresponding plane in your document.

  6. 6

    Use any of Illustrator's drawing tools. The shapes will snap to the active plane of the perspective grid as you draw.

Tips and warnings

  • If you think you might want to use your grid settings again later for other projects, you can save the settings as a grid preset. Go to "View," hover over "Perspective Grid" and select "Save Grid as Preset." Type a name for the preset and click "OK."

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