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Digital Matte Painting Essentials 2: Perspective

Setting up vanishing points using the Path tool


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Digital Matte Painting Essentials 2: Perspective

with David Mattingly

Video: Setting up vanishing points using the Path tool

With the number of layers in our file reduced, its time to add vanishing points and lines of conversion to our castle to be used as guides for creating our perspective drawing. Click on the paths 'g tab in the same window as layers. Select the pen tool from the tool bar or press the P key to invoke it. The first thing we need to find is the horizon line, which in this case is easy to find, since it's where the earth meets the sky, or where these mountains meet the sea of lava.

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Digital Matte Painting Essentials 2: Perspective
2h 37m Beginner Aug 27, 2013

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An accurate perspective drawing is an essential base for most matte paintings. Learn how to create linear perspective drawings of a castle in Adobe Photoshop with this course, and migrate the lessons to your own project. David Mattingly, a matte artist for many groundbreaking motion pictures, teaches you about the three types of perspective, and how to set up vanishing points, find and rough in the forms in your painting, add detail like crenellations, draw ellipses, and polish the final drawing.

Note: This installment of Digital Matte Painting Essentials builds on the concept sketch from the first course, but it's not necessary to have those files to proceed.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the three types of linear perspective
  • Preparing your concept sketch for drawing
  • Setting up vanishing points
  • Finding the first boxes in perspective
  • Roughing in the other rectilinear forms
  • Creating a flat crenellation
  • Plotting measuring points
  • Drawing ellipses
  • Adding repeating details to walls
  • Delineating the background
Subjects:
3D + Animation Rendering Design Digital Painting Visual Effects
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
David Mattingly

Setting up vanishing points using the Path tool

With the number of layers in our file reduced, its time to add vanishing points and lines of conversion to our castle to be used as guides for creating our perspective drawing. Click on the paths 'g tab in the same window as layers. Select the pen tool from the tool bar or press the P key to invoke it. The first thing we need to find is the horizon line, which in this case is easy to find, since it's where the earth meets the sky, or where these mountains meet the sea of lava.

With the Pen tool selected, click to the right of the picture where the horizon would start, then holding down on the Shift key to constrain the path horizontally, Click to the left of the picture, now you need to select the path selection tool by press the A key. The path selection tool has two states, the black arrow would select the entire path so you can move all points on that path at the same time to adjust the position of the horizon. The 2nd state, which you access by pressing shift + a is the direct selection tool.

Which turns the arrow white. With the direction selection tool you can select individual points on the path with out moving the entire path. Rename this path marking the horizon line horizon. And then duplicate it. Rename this duplicate of the horizon RtVP. With this direct selection tool you want to select on the left end point by drag selecting it. The reason you should drag select is that if you accidentally click on the path itself rather than the end point, You'll have selected the entire path so drag-select around only the end point.

Now copy, cmd or ctrl+C, then paste, cmd or ctrl+V, the path right back into place, and drag that left end point up a bit. Continue to copy and paste the paths up until you have covered your entire castle. Don't space them too close together or you'll obscure your castle, or too far apart, since they won't give you enough guides. Try to reproduce something like the spacing I have here. Make sure that the points on top of your right vanishing point aren't moving.

They need to be all right on top of each other for this to work. You also need lines of convergence to go below the horizon to cover the front of the structure with the lava waterfall. So continue copying and pasting until that section is covered. With the paths for the right lines of convergence finished duplicate them and rename these left VP. Drag select around that vanishing point. It's again important to drag select, because if you just click you'll only select that one point, and you need to grab them all.

Holding down the shift key to constrain the movement horizontally, drag the vanishing point over to the left side. Since this is the left side vanishing point. Then drag>select all of the end-points of the lines of convergence, and again holding down the shift key to constrain them horizontally, drag them to the right. Now I have two path-sets gridding out the lines of convergence, one vanishing to the left, and one vanishing to the right. And since I held down the shift key while moving the vanishing points, it remains exactly on the horizon.

Select the right vanishing point paths layer again, and zoom in on the castle. We need to move the right vanishing point further out. It's much too close in. If your concept sketch has a basic indication of the perspective setup, you can use it as a reference as to how far out your right vanishing point should be. As you look at the lines of convergence, in comparison to the right side of the castle, you can see the lines angle in much more than the walls. An indication that you need to move the vanishing points out.

So zoom out and drag-select the right vanishing point and holding down the shift key, drag it to the right. Then zoom out more and drag it even farther to the right. If Photoshop is floating your picture in a window and you can't zoom out and see the sides like I'm showing here. Make sure you have Application Frame turned on in the Window drop-down menu. One you have dragged the vanishing point much more to the right, you'll need to zoom in again, and check it against the castle walls.

In this case, it looks like it could go even farther out, so zoom out again, and drag the vanishing point more to the right. The lines of convergence won't exactly match the paintings since it's just a sketch. But is far enough out that I know it'll work. As I look at this concept sketch, I know the left vanishing point will be farther away from the edge of my picture then the right vanishing point. Since the left side of the castle is facing more towards the viewer then the right side.

The more the side of the structures turned towards us, the farther out the vanishing point will be. And the more the building is turned away from us, the closer the vanishing point will be to the edge of the picture. So just remember the more toward the viewer, the farther out the vanishing point. The more away from the viewer, the closer the vanishing point. Zoom out again and select the left VP layer. Then drag select the left vanishing point and holding down on the shift key, Move it far out to the left side.

Once you have it pretty far out, zoom in again and check it against the side of the castle. It looks like this could go even farther out. Click back and forth between the left VP layer and the right VP layer. Your vanishing point should be something like this distance from your picture edge. The most common mistake I see my students making is putting their vanishing points too close in to the edge of the picture. So make sure your vanishing points are far enough out. One last thing to do before you're finished with this path setup.

Click on your Horizon Path layer and holding down the Shift key, pull the end points of the horizon line out so that they contact the right and left vanishing points. Click back and forth between the vanishing points and the horizon and confirm that the VPs have not accidentally moved up or down while you were positioning them. They must be on the horizon. The great thing about this path system is that its reusable. You can just drag the paths into your next project, and not have to set it up all over again.

You'll just have to reposition the vanishing points in horizon to match the object in your new scene. In the following section, we'll stroke the paths in different colors and start the perspective drawing.

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