Pixel Glade

How to Draw Architecture in ClipStudioPaint 01: Projecting to Scale in Perspective

01 November 2020

This post was originally published on Wordpress by Tarren Stroud (pixelglade's other alias) on 01 November 2020. It has been reposted for archival purposes. All images have been converted to clickable thumbnails at 100px height. Click to load the fullsize image.

This tutorial will teach you how to study architectural perspective from an old public domain treatise, ‘Perspectiva Pictorum et Architectorum’ by Andrea Pozzo and apply that knowledge to digital drawing. This article will explain how to study a renaissance-era resource that artists relied on, so you can learn the necessary perspective foundations to draw classical architecture like columns, pedestals, and archways.

This is a companion to the YouTube video tutorial of the same name. The purpose of this article is to make the content of the video accessible to those with poor bandwidth or those for other accessibility reasons may not be able to load or view the video.

Perspective drawing fundamentally involves putting squares into perspective, so I will show you how to download and draw Figure III (3), which illustrates how to put rectangles (or uneven shapes) into perspective. You can use paper or any digital drawing program with a ruler function.

Figure III. From 'Rules and Examples of Perspective proper for Painters and Architects, etc.' by Andrea PozzoFigure III. From ‘Rules and Examples of Perspective proper for Painters and Architects, etc.’ by Andrea Pozzo

This article will cover the following topics:

  1. Why you may want to learn architectural perspective, especially in a digital painting program
  2. What prerequisite perspective drawing knowledge will help you with the exercise
  3. My personal motivations for learning architectural perspective
  4. How I found the treatise
  5. An Introduction to the author and illustrator, Andrea Pozzo
  6. Where to download the translated copy of the treatise
  7. How to load high resolution images using IrfanView
  8. Demonstrate how to study the treatise using ClipStudioPaint, using Figure III (3) as an example.

Why learn architectural perspective in a digital painting program?

ClipStudioPaint (CSP) is an illustration and digital painting software which while lacking in some more precise drafting tools has the benefit of inbuilt perspective rulers, which makes it perfect for perspective drawing. My goal is to share the information required to (eventually) paint architecture digitally with this program, which starts with a solid drawing underlay. Just so you know, this post is not sponsored by CSP, I just use it as an affordable Photoshop alternative.

Perspective Drawing Prerequisites

You will get the most out of the demonstration if you know:

  • What a horizon line is
  • How to put a box in one, two, or three point perspective
  • Know how to draw a perspective grid

If you want to learn more about perspective, one free perspective book available on Project Gutenberg is The Theory and Practice of Perspective by G.A. Storey, which has a bit more detail in terms of explaining perspective grids.

It’s worth mentioning that Figure I (1) of the treatise covers the following definitions in the text accompanying the Figure:

  • Horizon Line, Ground Line, Horizontal Line
  • Geometrical Plan, Point of Distance, Point of Sight, Point of the Eye, Spectator Position
Figure I. From ‘Rules and Examples of Perspective proper for Painters and Architects, etc.’ by Andrea Pozzo.

The terminology is pretty antiquated, I’ve seen some terms referred to differently in more modern texts, for example:

  • Diagonal Vanishing Point (DVP) is equivalent to Point of Distance
  • Spectator Position is the Viewing Point or Station Point (SP)
  • The most bizarre term is ‘occult lines’ which means ‘construction lines’.

You might be able to tackle these exercises if you don’t know how to draw a box in perspective, as the treatise explains one-point or parallel perspective – but not two or three point perspective. So you might find it difficult to apply the techniques to say, figure drawing, as it is a resource specific to architecture. It will help if you have some fundamental perspective skills already, so I recommend the treatise to those who want to upgrade their skills and learn how to draw architecture. This was the position I was in when I found the resource originally.

Video games like Dark Souls motivated me to learn architectural drawing

My personal interest is that I like games like Dark Souls which include gothic and classical architecture and I wanted to learn how to draw or paint some columns or pedestals in a background.

A screenshot from Dark Souls for PC, featuring the original FromSoftware title published by Bandai Namco.

In terms of classical or renaissance style art, there is a baroque-period artist whose style reminds me of Dark Souls – François de Nomé, who was originally lumped in under the pseudonym Monsù Desiderio (along with Didier Barra and another unknown artist). Here’s an example painting:

A painting by François de Nomé (circa 1593 – 1620), who often painted under the pseudonym Monsu Desiderio.

Surely I am not the only Dark Souls fan who looks at this next artwork and unconsciously associates the passage at the end as a fog gate (aka boss portal). The question in my mind looking at all the columns, archways, and vaults was “How did they do that?” – they must have learned from their mentors or from a treatise like Perspectiva Pictorum.

A painting by François de Nomé (circa 1593 – 1620), who often painted under the pseudonym Monsu Desiderio.

How I found the treatise

One key method of learning art is to try replicate artists you admire. So, when attempting to replicate the perspective foundation of a drawing by Piranesi, I found my perspective skills were not up to the task. Here’s an image of Piranesi.

A portrait of Giovanni Battista Piranesi by Pietro Labruzzi (1779), Collection: Museo di Roma (Palazzo Braschi).

Here is the image whose perspective foundation I tried to replicate and failed at:

Copper etching by Giovanni Battista Piranesi – Interior of the Church of Our Lady of the Angels called the Charterhouse, which was once the principal room of the Baths of Diocletian.

So, I struggled to draw some architecture – and with some searching I found what methods he might have used to learn perspective and I found he had likely learned from the treatises of the day – one of those by Andrea Pozzo.

Andrea Pozzo, A self-portrait (circa 1686-1687), Collection: Church Il Gesù, Rome

Introduction to the artist Andrea Pozzo

His treatise, ‘Perspectiva Pictorum et Architectorum’, was a primary guide for architects and artists. Andrea Pozzo is famous for more than his treatise. He painted a ceiling in the church of St Ignazio using rules of perspective to extend the scene beyond the height of the ceiling.

Andrea Pozzo, gloria di sant’ignazio (circa 1685-1694), Located in the Church of St. Ignazio

He is also famous for the illusionistic perspective of the Trompe-l’oeil Dome at St Ignazio. Both of these techniques are visually explained in the later pages of the treatise.

Trompe L'oeil Vienna
Trompe L'oeil drawing 01
Trompe L'oeil drawing 01
Trompe L'oeil drawing 02

The good news is the treatise is in the public domain and is completely free to download and study from.

Where to download the treatise

The treatise has a modern English translation available called ‘Rules and Examples of Perspective Proper for Painters and Architects’, you can find it here:

There are 105 copper plate images in this treatise of increasing complexity and each one is an exercise you can copy. If you like to practice set exercises with clearly defined right and wrong answers and with a sense of progression, you will find these a challenging set of exercises, but I promise you will learn a lot. The early ones took me around 20-40 minutes, and the columns and pedestals take multiple hours (I’ve done the Ionic capital but not the Corinthian order yet).

Fig II
Fig VI

It is written in the early pages that if you do not understand one figure, to go back and do the previous exercises until you understand them. Studying these digitally means construction lines are easier to handle, and you can make them brightly coloured and erase them easily.

How to load high resolution JP2 format in Windows 10

To study these on your computer, you need high resolution copies of each page. I find .PDFs simply take too long to render and are impractical to use for this purpose. The best format I found is the Single Page Processed JP2 ZIP from the Internet Archive.

Windows 10 does not read .jp2 by default so you will need to download IrfanView with all the plugins from their website, which will allow them to be loaded.

Windows Properties of JP2 File
Irfanview Plugin Page

Digital demonstration of parallel perspective in Clip Studio Paint

In the demonstration, I will show you how to put two rectangles into one point perspective to scale. Figure III (3) is called “The Delineation of an Oblong Square in Perspective” and it is a useful demonstration of parallel perspective. Herein lies the benefit of architectural perspective: the accuracy and precision. Figure III (3) is where the utility of the technique clicked for me, but do not feel discouraged if you do not understand straight away – download the resource and attempt it yourself. Practice and experience are good mentors. The accompanying text says the following:

Figure III text

Now, the digital demonstration using ClipStudioPaint.

I first copy the Internet Archive .jp2 file into the workspace by copying the open file in IrfanView and then using File->Create New From Clipboard in ClipStudioPaint.

Copy Fig III from Irfanview
Create New From Clipboard

I then use Ruler -> Special Ruler -> Parallel line to set two parallel rulers on the horizontal and vertical planes (hold Shift to snap to X and Y) and draw the borders of the image using a pencil tool. You can put the rulers more toward the edges to keep them out of your line of sight, but when I initially did this tutorial I hadn’t figured out how to do that yet.

A screenshot showing two orthogonal rulers (X and Y axis) in ClipStudioPaint.

You can set up a shortcut to switch between perspective or horizontal/vertical rulers in Shortcut Settings (I use ‘z’). It’s called Change Special Ruler Snap and is incredibly useful for this kind of tracing and drawing orthogonal lines.

A screenshot showing the Shortcut Setting for swapping rulers in ClipStudioPaint.

Following this, I set a perspective ruler. We can follow the perspective lines on the drawing in order to find the Central Vanishing Point. If it’s slightly off you can edit the position with Operation->Move Ruler.

A screenshot showing the placement of a one-point perspective ruler in ClipStudioPaint.

I ‘Fix’ the vanishing point so it stays in place and we do not accidentally move it by accident. You can see I still have Move Ruler selected.

A screenshot showing the Fix vanishing point option when right-clicking upon the vanishing point perspective ruler node, in ClipStudioPaint..

Next, I place a second vanishing point to define the Point of Distance.

A screenshot showing the placement of a second perspective vanishing point to define the shape scale in ClipStudioPaint.

Then I trace the figures to go in perspective (remember to toggle rulers with your chosen shortcut).

A screenshot showing the original JP2 file being traced in ClipStudioPaint by switching between X and Y rulers..

I do this for the other figures as well, and increase the size of the canvas to allow space enough so the images do not clip when I move them.

The method of folding paper as shown in the copper plate etching can be done by rotating the figures in ClipStudioPaint (I toggled off the background to test myself).

A screenshot with the original background image turned off in ClipStudioPaint. It shows two rectangles on the Line of the Plan to project a single shape into perspective.

Next, I project the width of the rectangle to the Central Vanishing Point and find the intersecting points to the Point of Distance based on the width.

An image showing how to define the scale of the rectangle in perspective by finding the intersection with the construction lines going to the central vanishing point..

Unlike two-point perspective, one-point or parallel perspective involves making a parallel line at the intersecting points. At this point, you can see we have projected the rectangle into perspective. We can check we have done this correctly by toggling the original image on and off.

Checking the accuracy without the background.
Checking the accuracy with the background.

We will project the rectangle on its side next. In the early figures, Andrea Pozzo has us practice projecting images as mirror images. So in this case, we make a second Point of Distance.

Why do we put images up against the ‘baseline’? Because the Line of the Plan is a bit like a neutral zone outside of perspective space where objects retain their true proportions, because once they are projected into perspective they become distorted. This distortion roughly mimics the way our eye perceives the world.

When I attempted the opposite rectangle, the mirror image fooled me, in that I first drew the lines to the Point of Distance which is supposed to define the scale instead of the Central Vanishing Point. Nonetheless, you can still correct at this point since the projection lines are all construction lines and can be erased at the end.

A screenshot showing a beginner’s mistake, but it is still possible to correct it!

If you remember that the intersecting parallel line comes from the side opposite the Point of Distance you can still figure out which intersecting line is supposed to define the scale.

You can see we have accurately put two rectangles into perspective (though for brevity I skipped some steps for the second one – it is the same as the first only in reverse!).

If you are having trouble understanding, I encourage you to practice the exercise yourself. Perspective drawing is one of those skills best understood by practicing – there is a limit to how much reading tutorials or watching videos will help (ironically). However, I hope you have found some of my tips helpful. Before starting these tutorials, I had no idea how to draw parallel perspective or how to toggle between rulers in CSP.

I hope you have found this article helpful and I plan on releasing further videos/articles based on this treatise in future, so subscribe to the blog or join my mailing list if you want more content. Thank you for reading.

In retrospect, there have been no further videos, but there were a few additional articles on perspective drawing which will be uploaded subsequently. Do not worry, there is no mailing list.

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Name: ohmi
Date: 30 Aug, 2023
Such a wealth of knowledge here!! I too love Fromsoft's aesthetic. What I'd give to replicate Elden Ring's beautiful scenery. Thank you for sharing!

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