How To Draw a Scene In One Point Perspective
By Joe Catapano
Introduction To Two Point Perspective
Drawing with perspective can be a daunting task for someone who hasn’t delved into the art of it for very long. With that being said, the challenges that come with perspective drawing are easily understood and overcome with the right help.
And so, with me as your guide you will start to learn the concepts, guides and practical applications of, what I think is, the most important perspective setup: two point perspective. However, if you would like to tackle a slightly simpler setup, please refer to the One Point Perspective tutorial.
The “two point” in a two-point perspective grid is referring to two different vanishing “points”. Each vanishing point is an anchor that we use create a 3D object on a 2D plane. And the placement and relationship between these two points will dictate an object’s position in 3D space. Before we begin with a perspective drawing, let’s run through the perspective concepts that enable an artist to give the illusion of volume on the page.
Overlap – Shapes that cover over top of other shapes appear to be closer to the viewer.
Convergence – As they get farther away from the viewer, objects seem to get closer together (towards a single point).
Diminution – As they get farther away from the viewer, objects seem to get smaller.
Foreshortening – Lengths of objects seem to get shorter when viewed in certain angles.
Atmospheric Perspective - Objects that are extremely far from the viewer seem to get hazy because of particles in the atmosphere.
Value / Color – Objects that are closer to the viewer tend to have a higher contrast and saturation than objects that are farther away.
Great! Also, don’t worry about memorizing those concepts. You will naturally get to know these conceptual tools as you start using perspective in your own drawings. Now, let’s set up a few different types of two point perspective grids.
A Basic Two Point Perspective Grid
Rather than explain anything at first, let’s just run through the process of setting up a simple two point grid.
So here’s what you do:
Step 1: Draw a Horizon Line
In this case, draw this line completely flat. The horizon line and the height of your viewer or camera are one and the same.
Step 2: Draw the Vanishing Points (VPs)
Place two dots or marks evenly measured out from your picture plane. Make sure these points are placed on your horizon line. The distance between these two points will dictate the focal length of your drawing. I will explain focal length in the next section.
Step 3: Draw the Left VP’s Guidelines
From the left vanishing point going outward, draw several straight lines to the edge of your picture plane. Erase away the lines that go outside the picture plane.
Step 4: Draw the Right VP’s Guidelines
Do the exact same process with the right vanishing point. Remember to clean up the outside of your picture plane. Leave just the horizon and the VP’s for future reference.
Excellent! Now, let’s talk focal length for a moment.
Focal length is a very complex concept but as far as artists need to understand it, focal length is just a term that helps us classify what our perspective grids will look like and what kind of distortion we may get in our drawing. Focal length is usually talked about when discussing cameras and since as the artist you are doing the same job as the camera, we also apply to these classifications.
To keep this as simple as possible I’ve set up the 3 big examples of different focal lengths.
Wide Angle – A wide angle focal length will have the vanishing points close together on the horizon line. Having the VP’s this close together creates a very sharp angled grid. This setup is great for showing as much information as possible and making something seem very important and dynamic. Even though the human eye sees at a wide angle focal length, this setup should be used sparingly.
Normal – This is a standard camera set up. You know you have this set up when there is a good distance between your VP’s. This grid will have minimal distortion in the majority of the picture plane. This is great choice for every type of situation. When drawing your comic, this focal length should be used for most of your scenes, that way when you use one of the other types of focal lengths, it will create the most impact.
Telephoto - This setup is found when the VP’s are very far apart. Most of your grid lines will be nearly parallel with the horizon. This effect happens from a telephoto zoom on a camera. So apply this grid when you want the audience to either be looking from afar or if you want a more graphic look to the scene. This view seems more graphic because objects will flatten out just like the cube in the example image.
Now that we know more about two point perspectives, let’s build us a scene with a Normal Lens’ perspective grid.
Step 1: Make the Grid Transparent
Either with an eraser, for all of you who are drawing on paper, or with the layer opacity slider, for those who are working digitally, make the opacity of the grid lighter in contrast.The grid will now be faint enough so we can create a scene on top of the guidelines.
Step 2: Begin Drawing a Warehouse
To start the drawing, block in the main shapes of the warehouse. This will include two cubes representing the stock areas, a series of planes for the back wall, and two elongated cubes for the main support beams.
Step 3: Make Divisions in the Block Out
Here, I start with the blue line. The blue is all of the measurement lines that helps me find how space recedes toward the two different VP’s. Here I want to replicate the same distance for the stock area shelves and also for the doors on the back wall.
The X Method-First, I put an “x” into the first rectangle that I want to repeat toward a vanishing point. To duplicate that rectangle in space, I draw a line from the top or bottom corner through the middle line that the “x” naturally finds for us. This helps find how long the next section will be. Where the intersection of that line and the perspective lines that are used for that original rectangle meet is where the next duplicated rectangle will end.
Afterward, I will draw in the beams that make up the stock area to the left and the garage like doors for the back wall using these blue lines for reference.
Step 4: Use Specific VP’s for Specific Objects
In this step, I draw two different objects that need to be turned in space.To do this, I make a new VP for each object and then draw new guidelines (shown in blue line).
From there, it’s just a matter of drawing the objects using the new perspectives guidelines.I looked up reference for both the pallets and the tow lift to draw them as accurately as possible.You can easily place other props there instead if these objects are too difficult.
Step 5: Add Divisions for Height
To figure out how tall the shelves and other objects need to be I draw in a mock figure (shown in purple). I use a technique for finding out the scale all around the image.
To do this, first, draw in a simple figurine that looks like it fits with the rest of the scene.Now, to find how tall that person would be in other locations, we look at the relationship between the figurine and the horizon line. In this case, the figure’s head lines right up with the horizon line.
Knowing this, we can place a figure anywhere in the scene accurately. See, the head of the figure will always line up to the horizon in the exact same way no matter how up close or far away the figure seems to appear in the scene.
Tracing how tall the figure is over to the blocked in stock area, I use this measurement and the “x” method to make divisions going up the cubes. Then, do the same for the other stock area cube.
Step 6: Add a Foreground Element
At this point, I realized that the scene seemed unbalanced.In order balance the composition, add some warehouse props in the bottom left corner. Compositionally, this works because the props redirect the viewer’s eye back to the center of the image. Make note that I use a thicker line weight with these objects to represent the darker contrast that should be found in the foreground’s elements.
Step 7: Add Lots of Detail
This is where a lot of artists get fed up with drawing backgrounds; its time to add a lot of detail to the stock shelves. Most of these objects are just cubes and cylinders that I modify slightly to look more natural but it still gets a bit tedious. You need to be patient and add as much as the space requires. The more you add the more believable the warehouse will seem.
Step 8: Add Detail to the Background
Great! With all those shelves stocked the warehouse is starting to take shape. Now, let’s get the back squares to look like garage doors. Draw the same elevated doors and guard pillars for each entry.
Step 9: Add Trucks and Shelves
Since this back area is where all the shipping and receiving happens, it's a good idea to imply that there are trucks outside of the doors. Add just the back end of a couple trucks and put some left over stock inside one of them. Now add some detail for the door’s work areas. This includes a tables, craned arms, and lots of little boxes.
Lastly, I add another set of shelves to hold more warehouse props on the right side of the background. Keep in mind all of these props, more or less, are referencing to the main vanishing points.
Step 10: Finish the Back Wall
To finish up the background we need to add wall of electrical boxes and close up the remaining shipping doors. The electrical boxes are just a random set of cubes that are connected by cylinders. Similarly, the shipping doors are really just a grid of rectangles with a border. Try to keep the grid as even as possible as it recedes to the Left VP and it will look great.
Step 11: Add in a Warehouse Ceiling
This part will require a lot of patience. To make the ceiling you will need to space out lines coming from the right VP and have them get tighter and tighter as they get farther away form the viewer. The ceiling also has a few triangle based struts for supports.When trying to find the right shapes and angles for triangles in 3D space, remember to use the “x” method. The “x” itself makes triangles that you can use to judge the distance for each set on these struts.
Step 12: Add the Drop Shadows
Wow! This scene looks great. To really tie it all together lets add some drop shadows for some objects in the mid-ground and foreground. In some cases, all I did was add a strong line weight to imply the shadow.
Also, for the stock shelves in the mid ground I applied hatched lines instead of solid blacks to show that the shelves are farther away. Remember, there will be lighter shadows as things recede in space.
Incredible! We’re done! This is a great example of how to use a two point perspective and draw a believable back drop. The two point perspective grid is a great and simple setup to jump start a scene for any comic book scenario. As you can see, the results will be more that enough to enable you to place your protagonists in your setting.
Alright! You made it through!I hope that your scene turned out to be a great learning experience for dealing with a two point perspective. You can also use a two point perspective grid for many other types of drawings. They are great for isometric looking layouts for site planning, concept art and all types of action scenes, as well.
Keep practicing using perspective grids for all of your drawings.Even characters should be placed in a perspective grid to aid you in placing anatomy correctly.
As a note for when drawing backgrounds:
If things start to get boring as you draw the tedious details, it means that you need to get more invested in what you are drawing.If you are drawing a cardboard box, don’t just draw a six sided cube.Imagine what’s inside of it. Ask yourself questions like: Is the box old or new? What is in it and what is it used for? Where did it come from? Questions like these trigger one’s imagination and start to engage the artist’s creativity. All of a sudden, you will care about the impact that the box might make on the scene as a whole.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and be sure to come back and check out the other tutorials on more perspective grids.
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