How to use perspective to characterise your castle

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Moguriro

Moguriro

Intro

When we see them in the world or in fantasy works, castles have the power to transport our minds to ancient times and fantastic dimensions. There are many types, depending on the climate and culture, or where they were built, but every castle had the same purpose: to defend and show the power of the owner.

In this article, I will show you how perspective can affect the perception of castles, whether you want to emphasise the power, the tranquillity, the romantic, or any other aspect of your castle. If you don't know how to start drawing a complex structure, I'm also going to give you some tips on how to break down the concepting process into small steps. You will be able to improve the perspective of your castles and give them a stunning appearance, no matter what your drawing skills are.

Basic of perspective

Let's start with confidence in perspective, it may seem quite challenging but I will show you how to develop the ability to think in perspective to give your castle a certain mood. In fact, changing perspective can change the perception that people will have of your castle.

The first thing to note is that perspective is strictly related to the point of view of the observer. So, changing the point of view can give a building a completely different aspect.

I am going to explain 3 types of perspectives we need to master and then when to use them, and four different approaches to concepting, depending on the result we want to achieve.

1 Point perspective (theory)

The first type is the one-point perspective. This type of perspective emphasises depth. In each type of perspective, we will always have a line to define the horizon and a vanishing point, which in this case is only one.

Castles can be quite complicated as buildings, but we can think of their structures as simple geometric shapes that combine to form our castles. Let's see how to draw our blocks from a one-point perspective. 

 

Note: You can draw a perfect line in Clip Studio Paint in many ways, I suggest two ways for the purpose of this article, which are using the tool Figure(U), Straight line. Or you can select the Pencil(P) tool or any other type of brush, and after clicking on a point on the canvas while holding down the Shift key and moving the pen, you will see the shape of the line, click on the desired point to draw the line. I will also show you how to use the Perspective Ruler and Grid so you can draw perfect lines right away.

First step: draw a line to define the horizon and then choose a vanishing point on the horizon, wherever you like:

As you can see in the image above, there is a horizon line in black and a vanishing point, you can place the vanishing point anywhere on the horizon, it doesn't have to be in the middle. Once you have defined the vanishing point, draw a simple square and connect the angles to the vanishing point so that you can visually define the other faces of the 3D object.

The same method can be used to draw a cylinder, you can draw a parallelepiped first and then, using the top and bottom edges as a guide, draw two circles to define the shape of the cylinder, as you can see in the following example:

You will notice that this method allows you to see the top, bottom, or one side of these 3D objects. It is important to remember, however, that in a one-point perspective, the vertical and horizontal lines that make up the front perspective structure must remain parallel or perpendicular to the horizon line.

As you can see in the picture above, we have a basic wall, a column or a tower, and various shapes to create the structure of our castle.

Concept (calm, mystery)

Let's put a one-point perspective into practice by drawing a concept. You can use this perspective to give your castle a sense of calm or mystery, by showing the overall shape of your castle from a distance. You can also use it to draw a very long corridor, which is typical for palaces and castles.

1 Point Perspective ruler (approach by blocks)

Now that you know the theory behind it, we are going to use a very useful tool in Clip Studio Paint: the Perspective Ruler. Go to Layer, Ruler/Frame, Create Perspective Ruler…

Select 1 point perspective, if you want to create a new layer check the Create new layer box and click ok. You will see that the horizon and a vanishing point have been created, of course, you can use the Operation tool to adjust the position of the horizon and the vanishing point, we will see how to do that in a moment. In the tool property, you can also click on the Grid to activate a perspective grid, and check the Snap box as shown in the image above, this will make the line you draw perfectly in perspective, it's fantastic isn't it!

However, when you select Snap, the ruler lines turn purple, and when Snap is not active, they turn green. If you need to disable only one line of the ruler, you can do it by clicking the small circle near the line with the Operation tool, you will see that only this line is green, and as a result, this line will not act as a ruler. See the following picture:

Remember that to make thinking easier, you can always start with a simple block or cylinder and then sketch over the block to define the shape and add detail.

If you look at the picture above, you can see the horizon line, the vanishing point, and 3 simple blocks that form the defense towers; following the rule of this one-point perspective, you cannot see the fourth tower at the back. I left a lot of empty space around the castle because I decided to give this castle a calm atmosphere in a wide peaceful plain. For now, concentrate on the general shape and the perspective, respecting the rules you have just learned, as you will notice that the horizontal and vertical lines do not converge in this type of perspective. Toggle the Snap box on and off to draw details freely.

The concept above gives you an idea of how to go from the image you have in your mind to the first concept, setting up a perspective guide and thinking gradually with simple blocks.

When you draw the concept always think about the functions of the structures, remember that castles were built to defend the population that lived inside, so always think about defensive towers and walls, some castles had a moat filled with water to increase the defense. The windows of the defense towers were very narrow to prevent attacks, as you can see in the concept. I will go through some of the features that castles have in this article.

2 Point perspective (theory)

The second type is the two-point perspective. In this case, compared to the one-point perspective, we ideally get closer to the subject and look at a corner.

The first step in creating a two-point perspective is to draw the horizon line and then choose a two-point on the horizon line wherever you prefer, then draw a vertical line, ideally the corner of the block. See the following picture:

Now draw a second vertical line to define the other corner of the block. You can choose the dimensions of the block.

After drawing the vertical line, connect the top edge to the vanishing point, as you can see in the picture above.

The next step is to draw the other corner and connect it to the other vanishing point as shown in the picture above. I think you are beginning to see the bigger picture of this method, in the final step we will connect the other edges to the vanishing point and as a result, we will have our block.

It is important to remember that in this type of perspective, the vertical lines must remain straight, while the horizontal lines converge towards the vanishing point. On the other hand, in the one-point perspective, remember that both the horizontal and vertical lines do not converge. This is our block:

To get the final block, you need to connect the other edges of the vertical lines to the vanishing point and then highlight the corner of the block with a thicker line.

Concept (closer look, romantic)

The two-point perspective is ideal to give the viewer a closer look at your castle and to create a romantic feeling, ideally, you focus more on the castle itself and not the whole area compared to the previous concept.

2 Point Perspective ruler (approach by geometric shapes)

Now that you have learned the theory behind the two-point perspective, let's start by drawing a concept of a castle using the perspective ruler as I showed you in the previous chapter. Go to Layer, Ruler/Frame, Create Perspective Ruler…, and this time select 2-point perspective.

Ok, now that you have the ruler set, use the Figure(U) tool to draw rectangular shapes in perspective, don't worry, with the ruler active any shape you draw will conform to the ruler, just move your cursor after you have traced the shape and it will conform to a different plane, then click again to confirm the position. Anyway, this time we are going to take a different approach to concepting. In the previous chapter, you drew single blocks that represented a single structure of the castle, now I want you to focus more on the front appearance of your castle, so the rectangular shapes represent the facade of the castle. See the next picture:

I imagined each rectangle to be part of the facade of a block, also keeping in mind the roofs that I will draw in the next step.

I would like to point out that, as you can see in the image above, the vanishing points are not on the canvas but far outside of it, remember that you can move the vanishing points to get the result you want, experiment yourself moving the vanishing points outside of the canvas. Now in the next step draw the roofs and other elements of the facade, remember to snap off the rulers to draw these elements freely, don't be too precise in this phase:

Your concept is almost ready, let's add the concept of the environment, we want to create a romantic feeling and we want the viewer to focus on the castle.

For example, we can enclose the castle in a frame made of sakura trees. Japanese castles were built on massive stones as the foundation of the structure, and they had very beautiful roofs.

3 Point perspective (theory)

The last is the three-point perspective. We want to use this method when the viewer is ideally close to the building and we want to emphasise the height of the building. We will have two conditions: from above as if the viewer were flying, and from below, as if they were really close to the building. 

 

Draw the horizon line and two vanishing points on the horizon line in the same way as in the two-point perspective. Draw four lines, two from one vanishing point and the other two from the other, making sure these lines intersect as in the following example, you will get one face of the block:

Now draw another vanishing point, but this time not on the horizon line, but at the bottom of the canvas, following the next example:

Connect the third vanishing point to the corners, as I did in the picture above. Then draw four lines from the two vanishing points to the horizon line, making sure the lines intersect to form the base of our block, see the next picture:

As you can see, in the three-point perspective, both the horizontal and vertical lines converge compared to the previous perspective. Following the same steps we used to draw the block at the bottom of the canvas, draw another block at the top, see the next picture:

As you can see in the picture above, you need to draw another vanishing point at the top and then connect the corners of the base to the vanishing point to get the final shape.

Concept (powerful and intimidating)

Let's draw a concept using a three-point perspective. This kind of perspective is ideal to give a look of power to your castle if the viewer is ideally looking from bottom to top, so the castle will appear powerful and intimidating with its height.

3 Point Perspective ruler (approach by lines)

It is also important to keep in mind that you can move the vanishing points to get different results in your drawing, especially with a 2-point and 3-point perspective, try moving a vanishing point very far away from the others and see the result.

Go to Layer, Ruler/Frame, Create Perspective Ruler…, and this time select 3-point perspective.

The first and most important step is to position the vanishing points and the horizon line, in this case, we want the horizon line to be in the lower part of the canvas, see the following picture:

As you can see in the picture above, the horizon line in blue is in the lower part of the canvas and two of the vanishing points are outside the canvas, that is because we want to create the feeling of height and we want to see the imponent front part of the castle.

Now in the next step, I will draw simple lines with the perspective ruler active, when you draw the first lines of your concept try to imagine simple blocks as you did in the 1-point perspective, but don’t draw all the faces of the block, see the next picture:

In the picture above you can see that the rules help you to draw lines with right angles, so you can focus on visualizing the front of the block first and then draw the other faces, the line you see on top of the buildings is the line that defines the height of the roof. In this face it is not important to be too precise, try to visualize the general structure.

 

In the next step, use the Marker tool to define the blocks, roofs, windows, and other elements of the castle. Remember that at this stage you want to visualize the general aspect, so don't focus too much on details, try to draw solid shapes, not lines, you will do that later when you render your castle.

3D material in perspective

I want to show you another way to easily visualize a 3D structure while keeping everything in perspective. After you have chosen the type of perspective you want to use and created the ruler, go to the 3D material, select the primitive you want to start with, and drag it onto the canvas.

Now you need to align the vanishing points of the perspective ruler with the vanishing point of the 3D object so that the object will be perfectly in perspective. To do this, select the Operation tool, click the ruler icon on the layer, and move the vanishing points until they match, see the following picture:

The next step is to click on the 3D object and adjust its dimensions and position by clicking on the little icons above the object and on the navigation sphere, is very intuitive, don't be discouraged! See the next image:

Concept (vastness of the kingdom)

We can also use this kind of perspective when the viewer is ideally flying and looking at the castle from above, the 3-point perspective allows you to emphasize the height of the castle but also the vastness of the kingdom. Let's draw a concept.

3 Point Perspective ruler (approach by layout)

So, in the previous chapters, we used the process to think about the structure as simple 3D blocks, geometric shapes, or lines, to obtain the shape of the castle in perspective.

This time, this kind of perspective is very useful to show the expansion of the empire, so we will draw simple shapes to define not a single building block, but the base of a whole area, ideally containing a certain number of buildings. To do this, we can start with the layout as a flat surface. Of course, this is also a method you can use with other perspective types, it's just a different way to approach concepting. Remember that at this stage we don't want to add a lot of detail, just think about the general shape.

Sometimes it can be difficult to visualize the castle as a 3D image in your mind, so you can follow these steps to simplify the process.

Set the ruler with the horizon line in the upper part of the canvas and the vanishing points out of the canvas, as in the picture above, because this time we want to draw a big castle formed by many structures.

Then, use the Figure(U) tool to draw a flat shape in perspective that defines different areas of your castle, keep in mind that those areas will contain other structures inside.

Imagine that you are a dragon that is flying over the castle so you will see the castle from above.

Second, draw a flat, simple plan of your castle on a new layer, then go to Edit, Transform, Free Transform. Adjust the plan to fit the area, as shown in the following picture:

When you draw the layout of the inside area of the defensive walls of a castle, always think about the function that each structure has, and remember that the position of the structure inside the castle is never regular, but always creates a little street between the houses and other structures, while you design your castle always think about a story, as if the structure itself communicates something to the viewer just looking at it.

Sometimes these structures were also built at different heights due to the irregularity of the terrain.

Now you are ready to draw with simple lines the height of the buildings starting from their bases.

As you can see in the picture above, I imagined a massive castle on several levels, surrounded by water, with many structures, defense towers, the blacksmith, the population, the gates, and a long bridge. The only limit is your imagination, have fun building your favorite castle.

Once you have completed the 3D model of your castle, you can start rendering on a new layer, first with a marker to define the position of details like windows, doors, roofs, and so on. Then you can add the texture, and the color and finish your drawing with shadows and highlights.

Castle parts

In the previous chapters, you learned how to set the perspective according to the mood you want to give to your castle and how to start developing the concept. Once you have completed your structure, you want to add all the special elements that make a castle, a respectable castle.

Here are some examples of the most common parts you can use as a base. Of course, I always suggest using real-world references, whether you find them on the Internet or photograph castles on your travels. To realize these elements you need to break them down into simple geometric shapes, take a look at the next pictures:

As you can see in the picture above the simple circles in green constitute the basic structure, and then from their intersections, you can obtain the final form you want. Observe the first arch that has a complex intersection between six circles inside a hexagon. The only tools you need to do those arch and even more complex ones are the Figure (U) tool and of course, your ability to observe. You can use these shapes as the basis for both windows and doors and then render them differently.

Remember that you can always draw things flat and then adjust them with the Transform tool by selecting Edit, Transform, Perspective, or Free Transform. You can apply your arches, doors, or roofs to the faces of the blocks you drew in perspective. Let’s take a look at roof shapes:

These are the most common and basic shapes you can draw to realize the roof of a castle and then you can make a lot of variations starting from these shapes.

There are literally thousands of arch typologies or roofs and so on observe real-life reference and when you see an element of a castle that you like and you want to reproduce break that element down into simple geometric shapes and after you have realized the structure as in the examples above you can render and add details.

Outro

The first thing you need to do to give your castle a stunning look is to choose the right perspective to emphasize the mood you want to convey. We have seen how different perspectives affect the look of a castle, and how you can approach the concept in different ways if you prefer to think more in terms of individual 3D blocks, if you want to focus more on the facade, or if you want to build the layout of your kingdom thinking in terms of a whole area instead of individual blocks. And if you don't know where to start drawing the details, I have shown you all the typical elements that make up a castle and how you can break down complex architectural elements into simple geometric shapes.  I encourage you to look at real-world references, and if you want to create a fantasy version of a castle, start with these elements and modify them afterward. Now you have all the basics to create a great piece of art. Thank you for reading.

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