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Building an ellipse bank

From: Digital Matte Painting Essentials 2: Perspective

Video: Building an ellipse bank

In the last two lessons, we dug deep into some fairly advanced perspective and determined this ellipse was our master elipse. The elipse we would base all of the other ellipses off of. This elipse is around 18.5%. And let's review how to find the percentage of an elipse. Select the Ellipse path tool or press shift u on the keyboard to cycle through the path shapes. And make sure that path is selected in the top drop down menu. Let's zoom in so we can be really precise.

Building an ellipse bank

In the last two lessons, we dug deep into some fairly advanced perspective and determined this ellipse was our master elipse. The elipse we would base all of the other ellipses off of. This elipse is around 18.5%. And let's review how to find the percentage of an elipse. Select the Ellipse path tool or press shift u on the keyboard to cycle through the path shapes. And make sure that path is selected in the top drop down menu. Let's zoom in so we can be really precise.

Then holding down the shift key to constrain the shape to a circle draw a circle the size of the master elipse. Press Cmd or Ctrl+T to transform the shape and scale the height until it matches the elipse. You can see in this top height readout that this is around 18.5%. Photoshop can be rather jumpy while working with this and it's hard to get a precise number so settle for something close to that. I should mention for those of you who skipped the last two lessons, that if you have a background in geometry, you'll be more familiar with degrees when working with ellipses, but in Photoshop, there's no way to work in degrees, only percentages. So I think of this as an 18.5% ellipse.

So how do we make an intelligent guess as to what percentage of our master ellipse should be. As long as you have set up the position of your vanishing points to be similar to what I have here, an ellipse between 15 and 25 percent will give you acceptable results in this project. The percentage of your ellipse tells you how close your vanishing points are to the edge of your picture. If you have them very close in, you'll get a wider high percentage ellipse. If you have the vanishing points very far out, you'll get a flatter, low percentage ellipse .

If you have a master ellipse that is too flat, your castle will look flat also. If the master ellipse it too wide, your castle will look distorted. But again, anything between 15 and 25% will work here. Now it's time to build the ellipse bank. You'll want to construct it somewere over to the side of the castle, you don't want to do it right on top of it, this area to the right will work. Rename the path layer with the master ellipse on it, Ellipse Bank. And move the master ellipse to the side.

You'll need to scale it down so it'll fit in the open area. But, scale it uniformly to keep the same percentage and retain the same height above the horizon as the original master ellipse. For purposes of this ellipse bank, we're going to consider this top ellipse the 100 percent ellipse, and the ellipse on the horizon which would be a flat line, as a zero percent ellipse. We're going to divide up the space between the 100 percent ellipse and the zero percent ellipse into eighths and then position ellipses of the matching percentage at each division.

In the Layers Panel, create a new layer and name it Ellipse Bank Guides. Select your Brush tool and lower the opacity to 40%. These will be guides, so they should be lighter. Zoom in. You need to be precise in drawing this. And draw guides from each side of the master ellipse down to the horizon. Then, draw through the long axis of the master ellipse, right through the center. This will be the top line for dividing this section into eighths and the location of the 100% ellipse.

The ellipse on the horizon will be 0%. So, let's mark that. I'm going to mark the bottom the box which is on the horizon so that it's very clear. And then carefully draw an x through the box to find the center. And that's the location of the 50 percent ellipse. Draw another X from the 50% line up to the other corner of the 100% line, define the half way point on the upper box, which will be the location of the 75% eclipse, we don't have to draw a complete X through the divisions if you draw a vertical line through the center of the box, then just draw one side of the X to find the center.

Where this line from corner to corner touches the center line is another division. This upper division would be halfway between 75% and 100% or 87.5%. I'm going to round it to 87%. Now do the lower half, marking all of those divisions. 62% rounded from 62.5%.

25%, 37%, and 12%. With the Path Selection tool, select the master ellipse. You should make sure you're on the ellipse bank paths layer. Then Copy and Paste it into place, Move the copy down on top of the 50% division, and press command or control T to transform it. It can be hard to get it to exactly 50% height, so it's easier to just type it into the height dialogue box.

Use the arrow keys to scoot it up or down so it's right on top of the 50% division line, and press return twice to accept the transformation. Copy the master elipse path again, paste it in place, and move it down on top of the 75% division line Again a typing 75% into the height dialog box will probably be easiest. Copy and paste it again. Move it on top of the 25% line.

Scale the height to 25%. So copy and paste. Type in 87% Copy and Paste, type in 62% Copy and Paste, type in 37% Copy and Paste. Type in 12%, you can add a collapse ellipse for the 0% ellipse on the horizon, but Photoshop won't allow you to type in zero.

You can use 1%. We're almost done creating the ellipse bank, you may have ellipses below the horizon, but you don't have to manually add them. Just select the paths of the entire top set from 0% to 100%. Copy, paste, then transform them negative 100, lining up the bottom of the transform box with the 0% ellipse. Accept the transformation, and you have all of the lower ellipses for free.

Next up, we'll use the ellipse bank to add ellipses to all the curved surfaces on our project.

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Digital Matte Painting Essentials 2: Perspective

30 video lessons · 3060 viewers

David Mattingly
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