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Digital Matte Painting Essentials 2: Perspective
Illustration by John Hersey

Towers and domes


From:

Digital Matte Painting Essentials 2: Perspective

with David Mattingly

Video: Towers and domes

With the crenellations finished, it's time to turn our attention to the rounded surfaces, the dome and towers. Center them in the View port. The first thing we want to do is add center lines to them. Set the Opacity of the brush to 20% and create a New layer and name it Guides. These guides should be light so you can see them, but they're not overwhelming. Holding down on the Shift key so that the line remains absolutely vertical, draw right down the center of the domes and towers.

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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

Towers and domes

With the crenellations finished, it's time to turn our attention to the rounded surfaces, the dome and towers. Center them in the View port. The first thing we want to do is add center lines to them. Set the Opacity of the brush to 20% and create a New layer and name it Guides. These guides should be light so you can see them, but they're not overwhelming. Holding down on the Shift key so that the line remains absolutely vertical, draw right down the center of the domes and towers.

We're going to draw an interesting profile for each of these structures and use this guide to flip over the profile to create symmetrical towers and domes. We've also got these smokestacks at the front, we'll handle in the same way. Let's add a New layer above our Guides layer and call this one Towers and Domes. Center this top set of towers and let's zoom in. Set to Opacity of the brush to 100%. We need to see these lines clearly and let's start drawing an interesting profile for this tower.

At this point, you're welcome to take a look at interesting castle towers on the Internet or in reference books as visual inspiration. But don't use anything directly, just as inspiration to get a good tower profile. Once you have an interesting half of the tower drawn, don't draw the other side. Just select the half you have, Drag-Copy it to one side, press Cmd or Ctrl+T, right-click inside the Transform box, select Flip Horizontally, and move it into place using your center line guide as reference.

If you press Cmd or Ctrl+H, you hide both the selection and the Transform box, which can be helpful while getting the alignment exactly right using the Right and Left Arrow keys. My line went in a little too far so I'm going to clean that up. This other tower on the castle is a copy of the tower we just created. So we can duplicate it and scale it down a bit to match the perspective. A guideline would be helpful for matching the position of the tops of the two towers.

So on the Guides layer, add that at 20% Opacity. Return to the Towers and Domes layer, select the first tower, Copy-Drag it into position for the second tower. Press Cmd or Ctrl+T and carefully looking at your guides, scale the second tower down so that it's in perspective. Let's turn our attention to this onion tower over here. I was looking at some of the towers on the Taj Mahal in India for inspiration on this profile.

On these rounded surfaces if you hold down on the Shift key and draw in short straight lines, you can carefully control these rounded surfaces as you work. I do keep my hand on the Undo button for when I go offtrack. One of the advantages of working digitally is that when you create a complex profile like this, you don't have to draw the mirror image of it, which would be tricky. You can just flip it horizontally and get a perfect reverse copy. When I work traditionally, I would do this by copying the profile on tracing paper, flipping it over and then retracing the reversed version on the other side.

I need to clean up a little bit of this tower that goes behind the big dome. Let's do this thinner tower next. This one will go in front of the large dome and I want it to have a base on it. This tower will be similar to the one we just did. You should probably have your tower somewhat resemble each other, Some of my students have done castles with seven or eight radically different towers. But the castles never looked unified with that many different styles.

Let's select the tower we just drew and move it down here. These two towers are exactly the same, so there's no reason to redraw them. I'm going to reuse this tower a couple of times since on my concept sketch, they look like they're the same.

And there's one more tower behind the castle but it's almost hidden. And let's cut off the bottom. Let's draw the big dome. Create a New layer and call it Dome so we can keep it separate from the towers for now. Again, I'm creating this curve surface by drawing short straight lines while Clicking and Holding down the Shift key and clicking again. Just watch out for lumps in your curve, and Undo when they occur.

And let's create an interesting decorative top for the dome, just like this. You should be familiar with the drill by now. Get the one side nicely done, select it, Drag- Copy it to one side, flip it horizontally, and you have your dome. Let's clean up those edges.

Now, we can merge that dome layer into the Towers and Domes. We still need to add a fancy top to this pointed tower. Then, select it and Drag-Duplicate it and flip it to get the other side. And all that's left are the smokestacks on the front of the bridge here.

So what might seem like the rather daunting task of creating interesting shapes for these towers and domes, is actually pretty easy, and fun. I'm going to add a guide to help me line up the tops of these smokestacks and scale it down to fit into place. Now that we have the exteriors of all these rounded surfaces drawn, we're going to take on one of the most vexing topics in all of perspective, ellipses.

And we'll do that in the next lesson.

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