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Landscape Drawing Tutorial

Part Two -“Going 3D

Let’s return to the original grid with the little central house from where you pulled the lines. It´s time to go 3D and create your first landscape feature, using precisely the first imaginary grid we sketched.
In this case, we want to add another house. But as it´s located closer to the viewer’s eyes, it stands on the ground and is very important; in this case, we are looking slightly down from an imaginary high point (maybe a hill), and you get to see the top of the roof.
If you only saw the facade, the view would be different, but more on this ahead.

The new house looks 3D and with volume. That is simply because I´ve pulled the sidelines of the original triangle further back to create some roof faces. Notice I´ve followed precisely the exact angle of the imaginary green grid lines? This is the secret to all this and why you must pull them from a vanishing point. It adds depth.

Well… these grid lines. 🙂

As you can see, the lines that define the roof’s bottom area also follow parallel to the new imaginary guidelines for the sky.

The angle of these lines determines the depth or perspective of how the roof looks to the viewer.

Once again, you can experiment with grids having different angles to see slightly different depth views. Just remember always to pull lines and faces from an object in a parallel way to your grid lines originated by the vanishing point you designated for each particular object.

This type of grid works well for a more graphic example like this, and it´s good for beginners to get a good sense of how a vanishing point is used to create depth and volume, but as you can see, it constrains the whole natural flow of a landscape and can make it a bit unrealistic. Tunnel-vision-style is never good if you want to create a dynamic fantasy landscape or children’s book scenery.

After all, look around you… you don´t see everything converging into a single point of detail, do you?

So, how do you avoid creating a landscape, background, or scenery with this constraining and unrealistic tunnel view?

You simply have to build a landscape based on multiple vanishing points. And those points don´t always have to be associated with an object. Some can even be located outside of your canvas.

Take a look at the next image, below.
See those clouds? What´s up with those?

What grid lines are these floating shapes following, then?!

Well, they´re not following that single vanishing point grid for sure. And much less have much to do with the vanishing point on which the little house was built with depth.

At least at first glance.
Keep on reading and forget about the clouds for a moment.
Let us focus on the actual landscape ground elements.

More on clouds later.

This — pointing to vanishing points technique is the trick to place things right in a 3D setting. As long you know which objects relate to its vanishing point, you´re on the right track to create all sorts of illustrations you dream of.
You could get into freelance illustration one of these days, too.

Let’s take a look at the example where you´re looking slightly up at the little house.
Notice you can see a little bit from underneath the roof?
Why´s that?
Is it pointing to the same vanishing point?

What imaginary grid lines is this roof following?

Let’s do the same with the other house on the side.
Notice you still have the original house facade intact. You´re only adding additional volume to it in relation to the guidelines.

See how the left bit of the roof follows exactly the nearby left grid line?
See how the right side of the roof does precisely the same related to the following nearby right guide-line on which the house stands?
Also, now you can see a right wall on the house because we had to pull more lines from the facade’s square shape to follow the same grid lines the roof follows.

And because we are looking from slightly above, the roof overlaps a bit of the new wall, and you don´t need to pull the top line of the wall face also because that right side face of the roof already defined the shape of the house when it was aligned with the grid line. A house is pointing to a vanishing point.