If you’re anything like me, you’ve struggled with drawing in perspective and you’re looking to find better ways to learn perspective drawing in different scenarios. Sometimes you can know the rules of perspective drawing and still have trouble applying them. I recently stumbled upon the 39 drawings you’ll see below by illustrator and animator Thomas Romain who teaches in very easy to understand diagrams how to draw in perspective.
“Drawing is like filming the inside of your mind.” -Thomas Romain
Romain posted all of these drawings on his public Twitter account, @ThomasinTokyo, in 2015 to help people improve their drawings. These perspective drawing lessons are the best practical guides I’ve seen and I think they will help get you drawing any concept or scene in no time. Use these as starting points and practice guides to get you to start drawing architectural spaces with ease.
Who is Thomas Romain?
Thomas Romain is a French animator who is responsible for creating Code Lyoko alongside Tania Palumbo. He is also responsible for designing and co-directing the Franco-Japanese animated series Ōban Star-Racers, which was the start of his career in Japan.
In early 2017 Romain attracted mainstream media attention when he began tweeting illustrations he had drawn based on his children’s sketches which eventually became a book entitled Family Traits. You can purchase it here. Thomas also published another book in 2015 entitled Lost in Anime.How to Draw in Perspective: 30+ Perspective Drawing Lessons By Illustrator Thomas Romain Click To Tweet
Perspective Drawing Lessons: Learn How to Draw in Perspective
Lessons on Eye Level in Perspective Drawing
1) Trace the eye level.
The first thing Thomas does when starting a drawing is to trace the eye level. It is important because it defines the height at which you are drawing your scene.
2) Practice on random photos.
Thomas took three pictures of the same street with different eye level heights. It is a good exercise to trace eye level (and vanishing points) on random pictures. It really helps you understand the concept.
3) Use your eye level as a guide to how objects will appear.
All the things that you draw from above the eye level will appear as seen from below. All the things that you draw from below the eye level will appear as seen from above. Your beloved vanishing points will be somewhere on the eye level, not necessarily in the middle though. The more your objects are close to the eye level, the more their horizontal plans will appear thin. Potentially the plan may become a line. Don’t be afraid by that. It happens to everyone.
4) Choose your eye level based on what you want to show.
Choose your eye level smartly according to what you want to show. Thomas uses a high eye level when he wants to show the room’s global layout. Thomas uses a low eye level when he wants to show the ceiling.
Lessons on Eye Level Height in Perspective Drawing
1) When the eye level is in the middle, vertical lines are parallel.
Thomas shows you the height of the eye level in your frame has an influence on the global perspective of your layout. When the eye level is in the middle of the frame, all the vertical lines are parallel.
2) When the eye level is low, the converging point changes upward.
If the eye level goes down in the frame, all of the vertical lines will start converging to a new converging point, upward and very far away. Do not draw it since it’s so far. Instead use a perspective guide to help you.
3) When the eye level is high, the converging point changes downward.
Now on the contrary if the eye level goes up, all of the vertical lines will converge to another converging point downward. If you play a lot of FPS (frames per second), you are probably very familiar with that.
4) Learn the rules of perspective before you break them.
To sum up: if the eye line is in the middle of the frame, vertical lines appear parallel. The more you trace the eye level far from the middle of the frame, the more the vertical lines will converge faster to the new converging point. According to the perspective rules, you can not make your vertical lines on abnormal slants in a realistic environment. However, in cartoon stuff, it can look cool which that’s the beauty of animation since everything is possible. Thomas’ advice though: Learn the rules before you break them.
Lessons on Drawing People at the Correct Size
1) When eye level is slightly taller than a normal person, you can check your character’s height in relation to the eye level.
Here is a tip to help you draw your characters at the correct size, anywhere in your scene. When the eye level height is slightly taller than the height of a normal person, you can draw a silhouette and check how it is related to the eye level height.
2) Duplicate your silhouettes and place them so that the eye level is always crossing the character at the same height.
Now you can duplicate your silhouette, move it in your picture, and adjust its size (Photoshop’s transformation tool) so that the eye level is always “crossing” the character at the same height, this time slightly above it.
3) When eye level is neck height, it’s good to determine the size of someone partially off screen.
When the eye level is at the height of the neck, it is especially useful to determine the height and size of a character who is partially off screen.
4) Try drawing your eye level at knee height to train your eye.
Also try drawing a scene where the eye level is at the height of a person’s knees to train yourself.
Lessons on Drawing and Choosing the Correct Lens
1) The same place will appear completely different depending on the lens you choose.
The same place will appear completely different depending on the lens you choose. Even though we are accustomed to seeing these kinds of images, layouts drawn with a wide angle lens can not be seen by the human eye naturally. The perspective effect is very strong. Layouts with a standard lens look perfectly natural while layouts with a telephoto lens are like the image has been zoomed in. All the perspective lines are almost parallel. Note that Thomas drew all three layouts from the same distance. He did not move closer to the building.
2) There are a lot of different ways to draw the same set depending on the feeling you want to communicate to the audience.
Now what happens when you get closer to the subject and change the lens? Thomas shows all three lens choices again, this time he is closer to the subject. He showcases that there are a lot of different ways to draw the same set depending on the feeling you want to communicate to the audience.
3) Understand where your frame will be located depending on the type of lens you are using.
If you are using perspective guides which Thomas highly recommends, he showcases examples of where your frame will be located depending on the type of lens you are using.
4) Then look at the results of what you will see and how you will see the image using the perspective guides with all three lens choices.
Thomas showcases the results of what you will see and how you will see the image using the perspective guides with all three lens choices that he showed in the previous slide.
Lessons on Drawing Street Slopes
1) Beginners make a crucial mistake when drawing streets.
Something to keep in mind when you are drawing a street: Thomas showcases a drawing that doesn’t feel quite right but is technically drawn correctly in perspective. However, it doesn’t feel real and isn’t very good. He has shown a mistake every beginner does at first.
2) Identifiable features look wide when seen in elevation view.
The windows and other identifiable features are too wide when you look at the image in elevation view.
3) To correct this increase the number of houses and make the windows and doors thinner.
In order to correct the mistakes of the first layout, Thomas increases the number of houses and makes the windows and doors thinner.
4) You can take it further by drawing the windows and doors even thinner as slits.
To push it further, Thomas draws the windows as slits In order to correct the mistakes of the first layout, Thomas increases the number of houses and makes the windows and doors thinner and creates an eye-catching background in a foreign labyrinth.
5) There is a trick to drawing street slopes in perspective.
Thomas noticed that some people have a hard time drawing street slopes which is sad since since slopes always look more interesting on screen. Thomas shows how a flat street looks in perspective.
6) For a street going uphill, you’ll need to add a second vanishing point right above the first one at eye level.
For a street going uphill, you’ll need to add a second vanishing point right above the first one. Don’t draw it too far though. You will use it to draw the road or the ground and determine how the houses are lined up, but of course, all of the horizontal parts (the roofs, windows, and doors) are still converging towards the first point at eye level.
7) Do the same thing with a street going downhill, but this time the vanishing point will be located under the eye level.
Do the same thing with a street going downhill, but this time the vanishing point will be located under the eye level. Don’t forget to draw the distant background on the eye level. The eye level equals the horizon.
Lessons on Drawing Cars in Perspective
1) It is easier to think in 2D at first before drawing in perspective.
Thomas shows an example of something he had to draw for the show Cannon Busters. Thomas was not familiar with cars so he gathered research images and thought first in 2D elevation of the front view and side view. Thomas finds it a lot easier to think about the image using only two dimensions at first. He tried to make the two elevation views match as much as possible while trying to get an interesting silhouette.
2) Once you are satisfied with your 2D design, put it into perspective.
Once you’re satisfied with your 2D design, put it into perspective. Use a perspective grid and the Photoshop transformation tool. Be nice to your brain and use different colours for each axis. This will make a very good base to work with.
3) By getting spatial information from your 2D views, you can build your 3D shape.
By getting spatial information from your 2D views, you can build your 3D shape. This part can be tricky for beginners though. The horns of the car are the hardest to draw in volume, but the side of the car will remain almost the same from the 2D version so it is easier to draw.
4) Add colour and dimension to your final drawing.
Thomas shows the final results with some fancy colours in his full 3D version.
Lessons on Drawing Clouds
1) Smaller clouds with flat shadows should appear near the horizon and big clouds should be above us.
A few drawing tips about clouds: Smaller clouds with flat shadows should be near the horizon. Bigger clouds with shadows underneath should be above our heads. Thomas shows a naive way to draw clouds except clouds are not flat. Clouds must follow perspective rules as well.
2) Composition of the sky matters.
Composition of the sky matters. You do not want your sky to appear regular and boring. You should always try to apply more contrast so the sky appears more dynamic. The second image Thomas shows is more contrasted and interesting.
3) Don’t forget that clouds cast shadows.
Don’t forget that clouds cast shadows. It can help you greatly when you draw large scale pictures. It adds depth and contrast. It can make your picture look awesome.
4) Clouds are your allies.
Clouds are your allies. The white surface of the clouds, when used smartly, can help you make your pictures catchier and can add contrast to your colour selection.
Lessons on Casting Shadows in Perspective Drawing
1) Regardless of where the light comes from, cast shadows of vertical elements on vertical surfaces are always vertical.
Sometimes Thomas notices other people’s drawings that accidentally skew their shadows and light sources abnormally. While this can work for a stylish cartoon project, it’s not realistic. The only case in which you see tilted shadows are when the surface of the casted shadows are tilted themselves. Regardless of where the light comes from, cast shadows of vertical elements on vertical surfaces are always vertical.
2) Shadows do not come from a weird dimension so the classic perspective rules apply to them.
Shadows do not come from a weird dimension. The classic perspective rules apply to them. It can be difficult to draw them accurately but they just need to be believable enough. Thomas showcases a shadow he created with the very useful Photoshop transformation tool.
3) Before using colour, shadows will help you describe the time of day and help give your drawing its mood.
Even before using colour, shadows will help you describe the time of day and help give your drawing its mood. Around noon, the shadows cast will be very small. Classic shadows are usually of a medium size. Early in the morning or in the afternoon, the shadows grow substantially. Just after sunset or before dusk, shadows will overtake your drawing and the sunlight will only reach the tallest parts of the drawing.
4) Don’t forget you can create cast shadows of off-screen elements as well.
Cast shadows can bring information and contribute even more to the atmosphere of your frame or shot. On the show Basquash!, Thomas used a lot of cast shadows of water tanks and palm trees. Don’t forget you can create cast shadows of off-screen elements as well. Thomas compares two images of a crosswalk: one with no shadows and one with overbearing shadows. The second one is more interesting and conveys more information.
Lessons on Drawing Interiors in Perspective
1) Think 2D at first.
Think in two dimensional terms at first. It’s easier. You can also place a human down flat for size reference.
2) Put your idea into perspective.
Then put your idea into perspective and draw your perspective guidelines.
3) Elevate yourself and the walls.
Then elevate yourself and the walls. Slide your walls upwards and decide what looks correct based on your perspective guidelines.
4) Work hard.
Work hard. Sorry, but you can’t skip this part. It will take a lot of work and practice but in time you will become great at drawing in perspective.
Click on an image to enlarge:
Did these perspective drawing tips help you better understand perspective drawing and how to draw your concepts in perspective? Let us know your thoughts and your own perspective drawing tips in the comments below.
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