I drew this image a couple of weeks ago:
I admit the shadows aren’t correct, but I only half-heartedly shaded it in since the real test was to actually build the room itself using a perspective grid, which I thought was a success. The room’s nothing spectacular, but hey, I’m learning how to do it, and I’ll show you how I did this in a nutshell. This image started with a perspective grid I put together in Adobe Illustrator. It looks like this:
Can you see the space that the “living room” picture is sitting in? We’re looking inside of a 12ft. by 12ft. cube. I didn’t bother to build the grid for the back wall or the front wall (the one closest to us). I figure when I print this grid out to draw over, I’ll be able to use a T-Square and draw whatever lines I need to help me identify locations on the back wall grid.
Take the grid, lay it down on a flat surface and draw whatever it was you were going to draw with it. Carefully using light lines, a T-square, a triangle, and some rulers, you can figure out where things are relative to one another in the grid-space. Say each block is one square foot, then a sofa could be 2 ft x 3 ft. and sit in the center of the room. You’d know where to place the TV. If you needed to subdivide the space a little more, using a blue pencil and your rulers could help you do just that. And in the end you’ll have something that might resemble this:
Now you can scan this image back into the computer and using your favorite graphics program, take out the blue and after some clean up you’re left with the image up above.
How do I make this fancy-smancy perspective grid?
So, obviously, if you want to draw something with a low horizon (low angle) or draw a two-point perspective image (a cube seen on the side), then this grid is totally useless to you. Don’t despair you can make your own. If you have Adobe Illustrator CS (and really any version will probably do. If you like using Flash or some freeware vector tools, you can still put a grid together. I’m going to assume that you have some ability with Illustrator so when I say things like “smart guides” you know what that means. I also assume that you know some geometry, since doing perspective (to me) is a very mathematical thing, that’s the terminology I’ll use to describe it.
The first thing to do, is on a layer, place the horizon line and then make a line perpendicular to it anywhere along the horizon line. The point at the intersection of these two lines is your vanishing point. This is the point where all the lines will shoot out from. For the sake of this demo the vanishing point is made larger with the red dot.
The next step you’ll want to subdivide your space vertically by drawing lines. To help me (what’s not pictured) is that I used Illustrator’s rulers to determine the spacing. Nothing special in this case, each line is just 2 units apart. So my grid will be six blocks wide. It looks like so:
Using these vertical lines and Illustrator’s smart guides you can easily pinpoint the start and end point of your line segments. Draw from the vanishing point to each point where the red lines intersect the lower dark line. Hopefully, you put the red lines on a separate layer, right? And colored them red? This way you can use those vertical lines as a reference guide and hide them when they’re no longer needed — or just plain out delete them to remove clutter.
With the cutter removed, now I can start drawing the horizontal lines that complete a floor grid. Start by drawing horizontal lines that define the boundaries of where the grid lies — this way you can find out how deep you want the grid to be. Once you have those lines laid out you have a trapezoid, or a grid plane in perspective. How do you know you’re square? Lay down a diagonal from one corner of the square to it’s opposite. Now you’re square. Maybe your perspective square looks narrow, or too fat, you can adjust that by manipulating the lines. Once you’re happy with everything, and it’s all nicely spaced you can start to form the grid squares. At every point where the diagonal you created crosses one of the lines going back to the vanishing point you can draw a horizontal line, and you’ll quickly have a 6×6 grid. Want more? Draw more vertical partitions.
Do you want walls? You can use the same procedure above to build them. On a separate layer make horizontal lines just like you did the vertical lines. Now the horizontal lines and vertical lines should together make a square 2D grid if you were to view them together. For the sake of clarity I haven’t included them so you can see what the spaced horizontal lines would look like. They’re all lined up with the bottom of the grid, that is considering that that is the edge of the room — where the wall closest to you is.
Now just follow the same pattern. Draw lines to the vanishing point and draw vertical lines that meet where the horizontal lines of the floor meet the wall. Do the same for the ceiling and other wall (or whatever else you need) and you’re done. I then colored my grid all a “non-photo” blue (really just a blue that didn’t show up in the blue layer in Photoshop), and printed it out — of course, after some clean up with the lines to make the grid more finished looking. Draw over it and scan it back in, remove the lines and you’re in business. So why go through all the trouble of doing a proper perspective grid? I like/want to invent realistic looking scenes where things are placed relative to one another, the best way is to get your perspective right and a grid helps. Not only that, a grid cuts down on the time it takes for you to figure out where everything goes in a 3D scene. You won’t have to second guess because you can draw the floor plans on the sides and reference them as you draw.
One experiment I want to try next with this method is to freehand draw a perspective scene and then take it into Illustrator and figure out all the correct perspective lines based on my freeform drawing, print out the corresponding perspective grid and get to work drawing a final image over it. Whenever I get a chance to do it, I’ll post it.
Of, if you just want to get started drawing with a perspective grid here’s a larger version of the one I made for myself.
Perspective Grid Large
You can print it out and start drawing perspective, like, right now!