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Where’s the Point?: Two-Point Perspective in Texas Bird’s-Eye Views


This lesson plan was written for grades 9–12.


Students will:


Materials needed are:

Note: Those without classroom Internet access may use the poster of the 1891 Fort Worth view to complete portions of this lesson. The poster is available through the Amon Carter Museum’s Teaching Resource Center.


1. Explain that bird’s-eye views, many of which are more than three feet wide, appear as something between a panoramic view and a map. In fact, they were drawn by hand using, most often, two-point perspective to produce a three-dimensional rendering. The bird’s-eye-view artists were usually itinerant, traveling from city to city. They used existing maps, as well as firsthand observations, to create their views, and once they had secured enough subscribers, they would send their drawings off to be turned into lithographs.

2. Have students learn about Texas bird’s-eye-view artists by reading their profiles. As students read the artists’ biographies, have them consider the following questions:

3. Show students examples of bird’s-eye views to discuss two-point perspective. Two-point perspective is a technique artists use to make two-dimensional objects appear three-dimensional. The artist first determines the viewer’s point of view by placing a horizontal line called the horizon line; this line may be real or imaginary. Next, the artist proceeds to draw buildings and other objects using parallel lines that appear to converge as they recede and that will eventually meet at one vanishing point in one-point perspective and two with two-point. With one- or two-point perspective, the converging lines make objects diminish in size the further they are from the spectator. As students look at several bird’s-eye views, have them complete the following activities:

4. Have students produce two drawings in two-point perspective of either their neighborhood, the area around their school, or key landmarks in their city, making sure to include a horizon line. Each drawing should be completed from two different orientations.

5. Either orally or in writing, have students analyze their completed drawings. Have them consider answers to the following questions:

TEKS Connections


Social Studies

This lesson plan was created by the Education Department of the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, to accompany the Texas Bird’s-Eye Views Web site and was made possible by a generous grant from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Foundation representing BNSF Railway Company.