Drawing 3D Scenery For Beginners

2013 Artwork 3D Scenery Sketch

One of the most important and basic things to learn when you’re just starting to learn how to draw is how to draw 3D scenery. This was originally going to be part of my “How To Draw” series, but I thought that it merited a longer article, since it’s a fairly essential part of drawing and the basic principles of it are fairly easy to learn.

I’m not quite sure exactly when I learnt how to draw 3D scenery but it happened fairly early on in my evolution as an artist – yet, almost all of my very early drawings have completely 2D backgrounds. So, I’m not sure where I picked this skill up, but it’s important to learn for most types of art. If you’re new to drawing, then don’t worry – the basic principles of it are very easy to learn.

Try practicing all of these techniques on their own before combining them into a single drawing:

1) 3D Shapes

Firstly, it is important to learn how to draw basic 3D shapes (cubes, cuboids pyramids etc…) since most types of 3D art rely on these basic shapes. I’ll include a small illustration of how to draw some of these shapes:

If you're drawing a solid (non-transparent) object, then don't draw the dotted lines.

If you’re drawing a solid (non-transparent) object, then don’t draw the dotted lines.

Now look at a photograph of somewhere and see if you can find things which can be reduced to these basic 3D shapes as well as slightly more irregular 3D shapes (which are usually drawn using the same basic principles as more simple 3D shapes). If you look at it carefully, you’ll start to get a basic impression of how to draw 3D scenery.

Likewise, if you want to draw the floor or the ground, it can be drawn (in it’s most basic way) using one or two lines – kind of like the top of some of the 3D shapes earlier in this article.

The top line is the most important of the two lines (you can leave out the bottom line if you want to).

The top line is the most important of the two lines (you can leave out the bottom line if you want to).

2) Perspective

At it’s most basic – things get smaller and narrower the further they are away from the front of the drawing. This is something to remember if you want to draw something in front of something else – the closer anything is to the front of the drawing, the bigger it should be.

As for things getting narrower, this isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Basically, many pictures featuring a landscape can be divided into four invisible triangles (by drawing an “X” over your drawing in pencil) – any sides of anything in your drawings which are facing the edges of these invisible trianges should run parallel to these lines. Things closer to the middle of the drawing should also be smaller too.

2013 3D backgrounds figure 2

3) Curve Lines

For anything which is curved/cylindrical, you can show that it is curved by adding either a few thin curved lines or (if it is facing a light source) by making the centre of the object lighter than the edges of it. It’s that simple.

2013 3D backgrounds figure 3

4) Shadows

Drawing these properly takes a lot of practice (I’m still learning) – but, in general, they appear on the exact opposite side of an object to any light sources. The shape of the shadows can vary depending on the position of the light source, the shape of the object etc… The best way to work out how to use shadows is to look at other drawings and photographs as a reference.

2013 3d backgrounds figure 4

Generally, if the light source is above the object, then the shadow should be shorter than the object is. However, if the light source is at the same height as the object, then the shadow should be longer than the object.

If you’re not sure, just get a torch and a small object of a similar shape as the thing you’re drawing and see what the shadows look like.

I hope that this short (and rather basic) guide was useful to you 🙂 Just remember to keep practicing and experimenting.

5 comments on “Drawing 3D Scenery For Beginners

  1. […] perspective/technique-based stuff might be a bit dull at first, but it’s important to learn at least the basics of it if you want to become a good […]

  2. […] It!.” -”Avoiding Repetitive Sentence Openings In First-Person Narration“ – “Drawing 3D Scenery For Beginners“ -”Disillusionment Is A Good Part Of The Creative Process“ -”How To Be […]

  3. […] 4) Add 3D effects: Although you’ll hopefully work out some of these techniques yourself, there are a few basic techniques for making things look 3D (eg: shadows, perspective, 3D shapes etc…) which are very easy to learn. I wrote a more detailed article about this subject a while back, which can be found here. […]

  4. […] enough practice, it can look amazing. In fact, I probably learnt a fair amount of what I know about drawing 3D scenery and 3D objects from doodling a […]

  5. […] I’ve already written about the basics of drawing 3D objects, so I thought that I’d talk about something a bit more advanced. I am, of course, talking […]

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