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In this tutorial, we'll be looking at two point perspective. Two point perspective is by far the best suited perspective drawing styles available for rendering environment concept art. The reason for this is the fact that realism and proportions can be achieved fairly quickly, and the focus remains on the composition, rather than on the technical details.
Some Points to Consider
When working with two point perspective, there are some things you should consider.
- All vertical construction lines are parallel to one another
- All vertical lines constructed at the intersection point of the two lines running towards the vanishing points
- All horizontal construction lines lead to a single vanishing point, based on the plane on which they are located on
- The two further away from each other you place your two vanishing points, the flatter your objects will appear
- This style of perspective requires choosing two vanishing points
- One or both vanishing points can be placed outside of your canvas, as well as inside
When to Use Two Point Perspective:
Whenever you need to quickly render a three dimensional object geometrically accurate, this is the perspective style to go with. That doesn't mean that the three point perspective wouldn't be equally, if not better suited, but for obvious reasons, the current style is far easier to implement. As opposed to one point perspective and two point perspective, with the two vanishing points, offers you the ability to focus more on your actual subject, than on the potential negative effects of choosing an inappropriate single vanishing point and perspective direction.
I recommend using this style of perspective for the following scenarios:
- Architectural exterior scenes
- Complex Object concepts
- Concept art of any kind, particularly larger scenes
Choosing Your Vanishing Points
Keep in mind that the position of your vanishing points is very important. All your lines extend to their respective vanishing point, and as a result, this choice will affect the degree of deformation your object/scene will display. The vanishing point placement however, is far less strict than in the case of the one point perspective.
You can opt to place these vanishing points at equal distance from your canvas center, on or outside of your canvas limits for example. Please note that the closer one of the vanishing points will be to the center of your canvas, the more biased the image will seem. What this means is that the side of your object affected by this vanishing point will seem "squeezed".
When working digitally, in Photoshop for example, you can create a much larger canvas than needed, and isolate the actual visible area with a layer you use as a "Crop-mask". This is useful when you decide to place your vanishing points far apart, outside of your main canvas. In hand-drawing you could make use of a bigger piece of paper, but digitally you just need to consider a few extra steps.
You can see what I'm referring to in the image below, showing you how I've used this technique for the first image in this article.
To ensure that you have a firm grasp of the basic concepts presented here, let's take a look at this quick exercise. Let's try to create a house! Feel free to vary from the example presented here, as this was kept simple for specific reasons:
- Start off by choosing two vanishing points, preferably located outside of your canvas.
- Draw your base volume. Don't forget that the height of your Horizon line should be located around 1.80m off the ground (viewing height). Your proportions should feel right when drawing the first vertical line, in context with the horizon.
- Start defining the base of your building, as usual, making use of as many construction lines as needed. Add a few windows, a door, and the foundation
- Refine your volume, maintain your focus on proportions rather than finer details, add thickness and depth
- Start adding details, extrusions and surrounding objects. Again, when drawing surroundings, create construction lines at the base of objects and extend them to your construction's base, to maintain correct proportions
1. Create the Base Construction Lines
Choose your Vanishing Points. I've decided to place one of them right on the left margin of our canvas, and the other a bit further outside. The Horizon Line was placed at 2/5 of the canvas height as the object will be located fairly close to our viewing position, and this height represents the normal viewing angle for an average person (approx. 1.80m height)
Define your perspective, or better said, what your position as the viewer will be. In this step, it's important to get the base of your volume defined, and see how it will lay on the ground.
Now that the placement has been clarified, let's start extruding the volume upwards to identify exactly how tall the building will appear to the viewer.
Separate your lateral and front sides of the volume by using two different shades and layers. This will help you further down the line when trying to further refine your details.
2. Find Your Roof Line
Now that we've decided upon the final dimensions of our volume, it's time to go deeper into refining the proportions. We need to think about what other major elements need to be built into this perspective:
- The roof
- The pillars
- The porch
- The chimney
- The fence
Identify the exact center of your lateral wall by drawing out the diagonal lines, and extending a vertical construction line. The height at which you decide to extend this will represent the highest point of your roof. Be sure to repeat this procedure on both sides of your volume to obtain the correct slope in the next step.
To define the lateral margins and slope of your roof, you simply need to extend a line from the highest point towards the ground, and pass through a corner of your initial volume, in the direction you're extending to.
Having done that for all four corner points, I strongly suggest that you now separate the surfaces both visually, with different shades, as well as on their own layers, for easier later edits (if you'd want to add roof shingles later, this would make perfect sense).
3. Refine Your Base Volume
Step 1: Add Your Porch
To create the porch, we will simply extend the base of our building by about two meters towards the viewer, and around 40 centimeters in height. Of course, as we're not actually measuring in our case, I'm just providing you with some dimensions worth keeping in mind, so that you can identify correct proportions.
Step 2: Add Your Pillars
Firstly, we want the pillars to be located exactly at the corners of our building, but we also want them to be visible, so we're going to have the walls pushed in slightly.
The easiest method would be that of identifying the base of each pillar and extruding it upwards. Aim to repeat the same process used when defining the base shape in the second step of the exercise, only this time, within the initial boundaries of your volume.
Here is a closer look at this:
Step 3: Place Your Windows and Door
In this step, it's important to keep in mind the fact that due to the porch, your position as a viewer is slightly lower, and this in turn will mean that your door will seem taller. Further extend the highest line of your door to line up your windows.
4. Add Shading and Additional Sub-Objects
Step 1: Separate the Pillars from the Walls
As the number of construction lines is constantly growing, I suggest you take the time ever so often to shade the faces that you defined, and to separate them on dedicated layers as often as possible. You do not have to spend a lot of time on this step, but the more time you invest now, the more precise your selections will be further on, when you'll want to start adding details.
Step 2: Add Thickness to the Front Wall
Similarly to how you managed to push the walls towards the inside of your volume, you will now have to define the thickness of the front wall. Draw a secondary lane on your floor, extending it to the right vanishing point. Project your windows on the ground, then connect them with your left vanishing point. The resulting intersections will have to be extruded upwards.
Here's a better look at it:
Step 3: Unify the Shading
Now that the construction lines have been drawn, once more, clean up the image and make sure to use the same shades, depending on the orientation of the resulting faces.
Step 4: Build the Porch Steps
As the porch is a bit higher than the average "comfortable" height, we will have to create a step to ease the ascent onto it.
The key is drawing as many construction lines as needed, and always projecting relevant points on already existent faces.
Step 5: Shade the Porch Steps
Add the same lighter shading on the top faces, the darkest shade to the faces that are not in direct light (our light source is to the right).
Step 6: Add a Chimney
In order to be able to do this, you will first have to decide upon a good position for the chimney. Start off by picking two points on the highest rim of your roof. Project these on the front face, then connect the resulting points to your left vanishing point.
Finally, draw two construction lines connected to your right vanishing point, across the front face of the roof. Aim for a relatively square shape. Now all that is left to do is to extrude the volume upwards.
Step 7: Shade the Chimney
As you can see in this step, a mistake made earlier becomes quite visible! The front-left pillar is shaded incorrectly, same as the lateral wall... but then again, this is easily fixed if you took the time to separate the faces onto dedicated layers, as suggested previously.
5. Refine the Surroundings
Step 1: Build a Surrounding Wall
Given the rather steep perspective, a great part of your fence may fall outside of the canvas area. Don't worry about it, but do not skip the construction process, because the human eye is very receptive to perspective errors, and what might save you a couple of minutes, would have a negative effect on your final image.
Start off by drawing a rectangle, similar, but larger than your initial base. Double this rectangle and enlarge it slightly, to create the thickness of your fence/wall. Raise the resulting volume by extruding upwards. Now all you have to do is decide where you'd like to have the opening!
Step 2: Shade the Surrounding Wall
This step can always be replaced by adding more detail. You could use the resulting volume as a bounding-box for a more complex fence for example. In our case, I've opted to simply shade it, this time using a lighter shade palette.
6. Add a Hint of Contrast
Separate the Sky from the Ground
Use your Horizon Line to separate the two sections. To enhance the depth perception, I recommend using a gradient for the sky, and maybe something more solid, but much darker for the ground.
This step of course is entirely up to you, and in a real usage scenario, requires a bit more work.
Your House is Complete!
Please keep in mind that drawing in perspective takes far less time if you're doing it on paper, rather than digitally. The scope of this tutorial is that of explaining the work flow, and helping you learn by doing. That being said however, I recommend that in actual usage scenarios you just keep these techniques in mind, and rely on them just to build so called "bounding boxes" (less detailed containment volumes) to which you add details as it comes naturally.
With enough practice, you will only need a minimal amount of construction lines, and still be able to achieve convincing perspectives. Good luck, and most importantly, have fun!
Hope you enjoyed reading this, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to write in the comments below!