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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.
- 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
Skill Level Beginner
Now that we found our measuring points, we need to add another line called a horizaontal measuring line to our project. The horizontal measuring line is always parallel to the horizon. On this line we can make measurements that are flat, not in perspective and then use the measuring points to bring those flat measurements back in perspective. We use this to construct the two equal front sides of a square. Once we have that we can take the back corners to the vanishing points to get all four sides of the square.
When we draw an ellipse in this square we have our master ellipse. Let's start from the beginning and do this in detail. First we will add the horizontal measuring line. In the station point layer of the Paths panel. Add a horizontal line high up in your project. Click once to one side. Hold down the Shift key + click again on the other side to make sure its horizontal. We're getting a lot of lines. So I'm going to mark this, horizontal measuring line.
The horizontal measuring line intersects the distance line and I'm going to use that as the front corner of our square. You could use any point on this line as the start of your square that I'm just using it because its right in the middle. I'm going to create two equal segments on either side of my distance line to measure the slides of our square. You need a new layer in the Layers panel to paint on and call this one MasterEllipseGuides.
Draw one segment along the horizontal measuring line starting at the right side of the distance line. Lasso around it and copy, drag, duplicate it to the other side of the distance line. That guarantees you have two exactly equal segments along the horizontal measuring line. Scoot these two segments down a bit so they're right on top of your horizontal measuring line. Now, you need two lines of convergence that go back to your right and left vanishing points from the front corners of the horizontal measuring line.
I'm going to use path lines again in order to keep the number of guidelines down. Zoom out, select the Right Vanishing Points Paths layer, select one of the lines of convergence, copy it out, paste it into the Station Point layer. Select your Left Vanishing Points layer. Select another line of the convergence and move it on to the station points layer. Zoom in again. You'll want to be accurate when doing this since even a minor misplacement can make your results much less accurate.
With the white selection arrow select only the end point of the line of convergence and place it at the front of the square where the distance line meets the horizontal measuring line. Do the same thing on the other side. Zoom in tight so that you can make sure you're right on the intersection. These lines we just added are in perspective going back to our vanishing points. We'll now take the flat measurements from our horizontal measuring line back to the measuring points and where that meets the lines in perspective is the same measurement in perspective.
Now, we need to draw measuring lines from the end of each segment of the horizontal measuring line back to the measuring points. Lower the opacity of your brush to 40%. These will be guides, so they should be lighter. Click on the end of the segment, zoom out so you can see your right measuring point and Shift + click on it to draw your measuring line. Zoom in again to check on it. That looks good. Do the same thing for the left segment.
Click, zoom out to see the left measuring point and Shift+click on the left measuring point to draw the guide. Then zoom in again to check it. One mistake that I often see students make is to use these measuring lines as lines of convergence to the vanishing point. They sort of look like they are but these are measuring lines. I'm going to mark them clearly so we don't make that mistake. Where this measuring line crosses the line of convergnce, that is the original flat measruement taken back in perspective using the measuring point.
Now that we found the two front segments using the guides, let's mark them both clearly by setting the brush opacity to 100% and carefully drawing in the front of the square. Remember, these 2 segments in perspective are equal because the 2 flat segments we used to measure them are equal. Let's go ahead and draw in the backsides of the squares. I just made a major mistake. Did you catch what it was? Stop a minute and look carefully.
I used the measuring lines to draw the backs of the squares. Those lines are only for measuring and it is extremely common mistake to use them as perspective lines. To draw the backs of the squares you have to take the lines back to the vanishing points. Let's draw guidelines back to the vanishing points. Lower your brush opacity to 40 percent, click on the left corner of the square, then Shift+click on the left vanishing point. Zoom in so you can see the other corner of the square.
Click on it, zoom out and Shift+click on the right vanishing point. Now with all of your guides in, set the brush to 100% opacity and clearly mark all four sides of the square. Inside the square we'll draw our master ellipse. Now we need to divide up the square as before to position the ellipse inside of it. Draw an x from corner to corner to find the center and rather than guessing about the center line to each side I am going to run a guide from the center of a square back to the vanishing point so I can get it just right.
Using the guide as a reference, draw through it to the other side. Click again in the center of the square, zoom out, and Shift+click on the right vanishing point to set up the other guide. And draw through it to the other side. Mark the center of each side and we're ready to position our ellipse. We have a lot of guides here so let's turn off the path guide so we have only the guides for the construction of the master ellipse.
Select the Ellipse Path Tool or press u on the keyboard. There are multiple choices in this menu so you may need to press Shift+u to get to the ellipse tool. This is just like drawing a round path with the Pen tool in only it's pre-made as an ellipse. With the Ellipse Path Tool selected make sure that Path is chosen in the top drop down menu. We want to create a path, not a shape. Holding down on the Shift key to preserve it as a circle, draw out a shape something like the size of our square.
Press Cmd or Ctrl+t to transform it and scale it horizontally to exactly fit inside of our square, touching in the middle of each side. This is going to take some adjustment to get it just right, but take your time and get it positioned properly. You'll be tempted to rotate it, but that wold invalidate your ellipse. The short axis of the ellipse is always perpendicular to the horizon on upright ellipses like this, and rotating the ellipse would position the short axis at an angle.
So you can only scale it into position here for proper results. Before you hit Return to accept the transformation we will get the top menu to see what percentage the eclipse is. The h, or height percentage tells you the percentage of your eclipse, or 18.36%. So, that's the percentage of our master ellipse. Make a new layer and call it Master Ellipse. Name the path layer with the Master Ellipse on it Master Ellipse also. With the Brush tool selected, stroke the Master Ellipse path. Turn off the guides and deselect the Master Ellipse path so you can see it more clearly, and that's the master ellipse.
That's what we'll base everything else off of. Before we leave the subject of measuring points, I want to talk about three more related topics. First I want to make it clear that measuring points are specific to one set of vanishing points. If you move the position of your vanishing points, these measuring points no longer work. This right vanishing point works only with this right measuring point. And of course, this left vanishing point uses only this left measuring point.
Next, while students are working on their prospective drawings they often ask me how to figure out the position of a second set of vanishing points. For instance, what if I had a building in my scene that was rotated 30 degrees to my castle. The answer is that any 90 degree angle from your station point contains another valid set of vanishing points. So just rotate that half box we created to find the station point to find another set of vanishing points. If you do, you'll of course need to go through the same procedure to find measuring points for them.
And one last point. You can have horizontal measuring lines anywhere you need them in a composition. Above or below the horizon, not just at the top like I just demonstrated. As long as you're using the same vanishing points, you can add horizontal measuring lines anywhere you need them. And use the same measuring points. Let's say you want to construct an ellipse lower down on the right side of the composition. Draw a horizontal measuring line where you need it. And take the corners of the square back to the left and right vanishing points.
Again, I'm clicking on the front corner of the square, zooming out, and Shift+clicking on the vanishing point to draw the guide. Click off the Path Guide so we can see our scene a little easier. Let's add a new layer to add our measured segments. And I'm going to change the color to green so you could see the drawing. Since we're constructing a square with equal sides, draw a one segment then drag, copy, duplicate it to get another one exactly the same length.
Click on one end of the first segment, zoom out, click on the station point layer so you can see all our paths, and Shift+click on the right measuring point. Do the same on the other side. Then zoom in and clearly define that front side of the square. Then from the back corners, draw guides back to your vanishing points.
Then clearly define the backsides of the square. Now your square is constructed and ready for you to add an ellipse. I've shown you how to use measuring points to construct equal sides of a square, but you can use them for anything you need a specific measurement for. If you've made it through the last two videos and understand how to find your station point and add measuring points, congratulations, you have a grasp of some very complex perspective. Next, I'll show you the very easy, but less acurate way of figuring out your master elipse that doesn't require any of this.
And then construct the elipse bank for your project.