Getting Into Perspective – Part 1

Although my earlier CS3 course covered the mechanics of creating images, in Chapter 6 of How to Cheat in Photoshop, 6th ed.,  author Steve Caplin gives readers important fundamentals in art. These lessons make the difference for creating truly realistic images.

Like chapter 5, Caplin begins chapter 6 with an instructional tutorial, rather than a hands on lesson. But, a very important lesson in perspective it is.  Incorrect perspective is high up on the list of errors for Friday Challenge submissions.   Caplin’s Golden Rule is:

“The horizon is always at the same height as the eyeline of the viewer.”

While I had certainly heard of perspective, it was previously only a vague theory to me. Thus, I found this chapter highly instructional.

Introducing Vanishing Points
Before Caplin’s book if I heard the term “Vanishing Point” I thought of a 1997 movie starring Viggo Mortensen.  I knew the term had something to do with perspective but didn’t know what it meant. Caplin gives a very good lesson in both how to determine the vanishing point and the use of repeat transformation as seen in the following series of images:

124 - Introducing vanishing pointsCombined images1In the top left image, the tops and bottoms of the store fronts make natural perspective lines.  In the top right image the perspective lines (red) have been added and the horizon line (green) has been calculated by drawing a horizontal line (hold down the shift key and drag horizontally) from the point were the perspective lines cross back to the left side of the image.  Note how the people’s heads in the background are intersected just as in Caplin’s rule.

The bottom left image shows the added elements (security guard and first row of the shutter). They are duplicated in perspective by using Free Transform repeatedly.  The bottom right shows the completed image.  Caplin did provide the shutter element in the exercise, but the technique he used to create it isn’t explained until Chapter 12.

Two Point Perspective
When I was in grade school I used to spend time in class doodling boxes.  I didn’t know how to create them in perspective and sometimes they came out looking more like crushed boxes.  In this tutorial Caplin shows how to box up a cow realistically and create a Damien Hirst-style image.

126 - Two point perspectiveCombinedIn the original image, besides the cow and one side of the box, Caplin also provides a nice clear horizon to help his readers create the perspective lines.  In the top right image, the perspective lines have been drawn and turned into a selection and filled. This is because copies of the side of the box will need to be distorted along the perspective lines using Free Transform and paths must be turned into objects or they will distort too. This is an important fact to remember because the final Chapter 9 tutorial requires making another Hirst knock-off. However, in the later tutorial the reader not only must draw the perspective lines, but the sides of the box must also be drawn as well.  The bottom image shows the cow neatly boxed up.

Three Point Perspective

If I had heard the term “three point perspective” before this tutorial, I would’ve thought it had something to do with an op-ed piece in a newspaper.  Not so. When an image you need to create isn’t at “street level,” that’s when you need to use the three point perspective technique.128 - Three point perspectiveCombinedThe left image demonstrates the type of perspective lines that need to be drawn.  Since the angle is now off the actual horizon, the verticals in the image will no longer be straight up and down.  An additional vanishing point is needed either above the object (if it is being viewed from below) or below it (if it is being viewed from above).  The right image shows the completed box as if it were being viewed from one of it’s top corners looking down.

That’s enough for now. As this chapter was so full of new concepts for me, I’m splitting it into three posts. Nest time I’ll cover correcting the perspectives when combining elements into one image. Stay tuned!

Next: Getting Into Perspective – Part 2

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