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Finding the vanishing point

From: Creating Perspective with Photoshop

Video: Finding the vanishing point

We've seen how important the horizon line is to establishing the correct prospective you ever seen. The question is, how do we work out where the horizon is supposed to be? It's all the question of vanishing points. What we're going to do here is hide all the figures in our scene, so we see just the background. Now we can see lots of lines in here that we know are suppose to be horizontal. The base of this lower wall, the top of the lower wall, the top of the upper wall, the dividing line between these storeys in the building and, in fact, the lines in the windows themselves.

Finding the vanishing point

We've seen how important the horizon line is to establishing the correct prospective you ever seen. The question is, how do we work out where the horizon is supposed to be? It's all the question of vanishing points. What we're going to do here is hide all the figures in our scene, so we see just the background. Now we can see lots of lines in here that we know are suppose to be horizontal. The base of this lower wall, the top of the lower wall, the top of the upper wall, the dividing line between these storeys in the building and, in fact, the lines in the windows themselves.

All of these point in the same direction. So, let's find out where they all point to. We'll make a new layer and we'll call it vanishinglines. Now, let's switch to the Shapes tool and pick a good strong color. This green will do nicely. I want to draw not shaped layers and not paths, but actual pixels. We're going to use the Line tool which is one of the variants in the Shape tools, and let's set a width of 5 pixels so we can easily see what we are doing. We'll begin with this low wall.

I can then click at the extreme right of the bottom of the wall, and drag that the cursor follows the line of the wall all the way along and, in fact, beyond it to the edge of the picture. And when we release the mouse button, we see a green line drawn on our new vanishinglines layer. Let's take another obvious line on the picture, maybe the top of this dividing line between the storeys in this building. Once again, we'll start on the right. And I'm dragging all the way until it crosses over the original line we drew, and I'll release.

That gives us upper and lower vanishing lines and you can see, they cross at this point, over on the far left. Let's try taking a line along the top of this low wall. So, once again, we're following the top of the wall and we find not entirely, to our surprise, that it meets the other two lines pretty much at the same point where they cross. Let's try a line along the top of these windows, where we can drag through the windows and I'm continuing to drag all the way down with a line following the tops of those windows and we find once again, well, everything meets at this vanishing point. And this is the key to understanding where to draw the perspective. Everything tends towards that vanishing point.

The important thing about that is that vanishing point gives us our horizon. So, let's now make a new layer. We can call this horizon. And let's switch to, say, a bright yellow color. Now, we're going to position the cursor at the intersection of all those vanishing lines and hold the Shift key as I drag it, and that draws an exactly horizontal line. And when I release it, that log is filled with yellow, and that is our horizon in this picture.

Not surprisingly, we could see that it actually lines up with the lowest wall right at the back in front of these windows, and it lines up with the horizontal part of that. An we'd expect that the word horizontal means lined up with the horizon. We could now hide all our vanishing lines, because that horizon is all we need to deal with in this image. And actually, it's very much lower than we might expect. Although you look at a scene and you think you're going to be on quite a high viewing point, in fact, that's where the horizon really is.

Vanishing points can be worked out in just about any Photoshop document. There's always some clue as to where the vanishing lines should be drawn. Well, that isn't always as straightforward as in this example.

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Creating Perspective with Photoshop

37 video lessons · 1262 viewers

Steve Caplin
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