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Quick Sketch Technique - Full 2 Point Perspective
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Proper two-point perspective is the hardest of the three examples here to get correct. For this reason I usually wait until I have a rough idea of my design before moving to this kind of view. It is however essential that you do learn to sketch using full two-point perspective, since sketching with simplified viewpoints does not allow you to fully resolve all the surfaces in a design. You can see in the graphic on the left that using this kind of perspective means that all parallel lines running both down the body side and across the front or the rear of the vehicle will converge. This can make it hard to figure out how to draw things such as sloping shoulder lines. A good way to practice to begin with is by sketching a simple cube or rectangle in perspective, and then by adding wheels at each corner. Once you are confident at this you can begin to add simple forms to this box, building the drawing into a more car like image. From there you can begin to disregard the box and only use the guidelines you feel will help you sketch your design.

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Stage 1

I have started this sketch by drawing some simple guide lines, all showing the convergence of the parallel lines. Onto this I have sketched the wheels. You can see that as explained earlier, the major axis of the ellipses are at right angles to the axle lines on the vehicle. Remember to sketch lightly here as it is almost certain you will want to adjust your ellipses as the sketch progresses.

Stage 2

In the second step I have built up a simple side surface for the vehicle. You can see how the shoulder line of the vehicle also creates the rear corner, creating a single surface down the side of the vehicle. It is usually easier to work in this way, working out the major surfaces before adding the smaller surface details such as wheel arches. You can see I have also added the front shutline from the door to help me define this side surface.

Stage 3

This stage is the hardest part of drawing in perspective. You must now work out how the surfaces you have drawn on the near side of the vehicle will appear on the far side. There are some very technical techniques of perspective construction grids you could use to do this, but when sketching I prefer to work these out roughly in my mind. The important thing is that you understand the general rules and principles of perspective. From there you should practice sketching using only simple guidelines which will ensure that the sketches remain fast fluid and spontanious. It is usually helpful at this point to have some pictures of similar vehicles at the same angle of view on your desk that you can look at. As in the previous step you can see that I have worked out all the major surfaces first. Also of note is the way the tumblehome (leaning inwards) of the side windows flattens out the far edge of the vehicle. Again, looking at pictures of actual cars will help you get a feel for this

Stage 4

Once you are happy with the rough proportions and are confident you have got the major elements of the perspective correct you can add the rest of the detail surfaces. Note how the centre line of the vehicle can be used to emphasise the treatment of the surfaces. You can also see that I have exaggerated the plan curve of the rear by putting the far side lamp almost out of sight around the corner of the body.

Stage 5

The final pen stage is to add some interior and alloy wheel details to the drawing. When adding the interior details you don't have to spend a lot of time, since all you want to do is give a suggestion of the shapes inside.

Stage 6

To shade the inside of the vehicle I have used two grades of marker. With these two markers you can achieve four tones of colour. By using only two grades of dark gray you can help keep the change in shades very subtle. If you half shut your eyes and look at the sketch, you should “read” the whole window, and not each separate shade. The same should be true after you have applied the colour to the bodywork, which is why you should choose a reasonably dark colour for your windows and a light one for the bodywork (or vice versa).

Stage 7

Remembering to keep things simple you can now add a light coloured marker to the bodywork. You can see that I have also added a little marker at the furthest edge of the vehicle. You could also try blocking in every surface on the far side of the centre line except the upwards facing ones, as shown in the flat 2 point perspective sketch

Stage 8

It can be easy to over-complicate the pastel work when shading a 2 point perspective sketch, since you try to 'correctly' shade every surface. I always try to resist this temptation, and try to use only two dominant areas of colour. The first one passes down the body side of your vehicle just as in the side view sketch, whilst the second goes on the far surfaces. This leaves a core of brightness running through the surfaces closest to the veiwer, which helps give the sketch a strong 3D feel.

Stage 9

The last two stages are quick and simple. Add a quick bit of red marker or pencil to the rear lights and erase the pastel from the up facing surfaces just as in both previous examples…

Stage 10

…and finally add the little bit of airbrush shine.

Allan Macdonald is an automotive designer currently at Volvo Trucks. His previous employment included MG-Rover and ARUP Design Research. He is a graduate of the MDes Transportation Design course at Coventry University, UK.

Allan's tutorials are also featured in the book How to Design Cars like a Pro by Tony Lewin, Motorbooks International, 2003.

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Last updated: Sat, Jul 24, 2004