Making a perspective drawing - part 1

Perspective: Seeing where you stand

For this you will need either a sheet of A1 paper, an A1 drawing board, an A1 T square, a largish set square, some care and some patience. Or you could try drawing it on your computer. You wont need the drawing equipment, but you will still need the care and patience.

Tip: Use different colours for the different kinds of lines (or stages) of your drawing. This will make it easier for you to see which lines are which.

Tip: The bigger the paper or image-file the better. Your picture will have a lot of lines on it and things can get a bit cramped.

1. First draw a 10 x 10 grid of squares. Make this grid about a third of the width of the paper and draw it on the left side of the paper, not in the middle. Most of your drawing will happen in this grid, but some things will happen on the right side of the paper too. The horizontals must be horizontal, and the verticals must be vertical.

2. Draw in your horizon line. This must also be horizontal. Your horizon line must go all the way from one side of the paper to the other. Where you put it is up to you. A lower horizon will make things look bigger - a higher one will make things looks smaller (see: Eye Level).

Tip: It's easier if you put your horizon line near the middle and on one of the horizontal grid lines.

3. Put a dot on this horizon line somewhere inside your grid near the middle. You can put it wherever you like (but see tip 3). This dot is going to be your Vanishing Point (see: Vanishing Point).

Tip: It's easier if you put your vanishing point near the middle, and on one of the crossovers of the vertical and horizontal grid lines.

4. Now draw straight lines from all the bottoms of the verticals of your grid up to meet this Vanishing Point. I will call these lines Receding Lines

5. Next make another dot on your horizon line, but this dot must be at the other end of the line away from your grid on the right. This second point is your Distance Point (see: Distance Point). Distance points have to be a long way from the vanishing point, otherwise the picture will look distorted. The further away the better, but unless you have a very long ruler and a very big bit of paper this becomes a problem. Setting your distance point about twice the width away from your grid is about the minimum distance you can get away with.

6. Now draw a straight line from the bottom of the left hand vertical of your grid, up to this distance point.

Can you see that the line you have just drawn crosses all of the receding lines that go to the vanishing point?

7. Now, draw horizontal lines wherever this last line crosses one of the lines that go to the vanishing point. These lines will go from the left hand receding line to the one on the right. You should now have what looks like a block of square paving stones lying down before of you.

Can you see the line that goes up to the distance point, goes from the front left corner of the paving stones to the right corner at the back? This is a diagonal in perspective.

8. Fill in all the others by lining up all the corners of the squares and joining them up. Can you see that all these diagonals will actually go to meet the distance point?

9. Now join up all the front right corners with all the back left corners. This will give you all the diagonals going the other way. If you extend these lines off to the left of your picture, you will find that they all meet up too. The point where they meet is exactly the same space away as the distance point is from the vanishing point, but on the other side of the grid (this point is off the edge of your drawing). You could call this new point: Distance Point 2 but you don't need it in this project.

You should now have what looks like a square made of triangular paving stones lying down in front of you.

(If you want to take this grid further back toward the vanishing point, then take another line from the back of the left hand corner of the first grid to the distance point. Then repeat steps 7 and 8.)

You can also use this grid to plot shapes on to make them look as if they are in perspective.


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