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Perspective Drawing Tutorial: A Cottage Home by Built4ever Perspective Drawing Tutorial: A Cottage Home by Built4ever
In many ways this is one of the most important drawings that I have ever submitted to this particular site, mostly because I have been asked numerous times over the last few years, either in comments sections or through private "notes," how do I do this, how do I draw perspective, how do I come up with these designs, etc. Make no mistake, it takes years and years of practice to get good at this essentially obsolete and esoteric art form. Hopefully, this rather large file will help illustrate the madness of hand-drawn perspective illustration drawn using my typical methods.

Admittedly, it's missing a bit of information on two-point perspective and it's principles. You can simply look that up on the internet. For example, I left out the horizon line, something you might see on Google Sketchup. The idea is to build up a simple geometric shape which represents the "massing" and outlines of the house, based on main exterior walls, floor planes, and fairly complicated roof structure arrangements. It's important for the first outlines to be reasonably accurate or the house will have incorrect or skewed perspective lines. Sometimes later I "tweak" perspective lines a bit to achieve better accuracy.

Once you have the basic shape of the home sketched in, you can start to add details and "wings" to the house like the garage addition and the master suite to the right. All the while, you should have either a rough idea or an actual floor plan in mind as you lay this out. You can start to design a house like this, with no plan at all, and call it a concept sketch, OR, this can be a final rendering of a set of complete floor plans and elevations. I do both!

Getting a feel for perspective angles is very mysterious and difficult for many artists. To understand it, it's a good idea to sketch houses from life (sit on the curb and draw an old house!), draw AND trace from photos of houses, and draw rough perspective sketches of your own designs into a sketchbook. Practice, practice, practice!

Final details look correct when you actually know how a house goes together. For example, it helps to have a clear understanding of porch framing to draw clearly the porch piers, the beams they support, and the corner brackets. Yes, I DO build this stuff, all the time.

Finally, don't neglect landscaping plants. I also personally do gardening and installation of landscape plants on my own property, so I have a working knowledge of basic landscaping plants, trees, flowers, and how to draw them. Usually, on these types of illustrations, a simple tree line behind the house is enough to suggest how the home will actually look on a particular property.

Technical: The six drawings above are pencil drawings executed in sheets of 8 and a half by 11 inch paper, mostly HB, H, and 2H pencils, scanned, assembled, and labeled with software.

Anybody may use this as they please, except for commercial purposes. I may see a lively discussion on this piece in the comments. Feel free to speak your mind, ask more questions, critique, or whatever. You can send me a private "note" too.
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:iconjullieroxen:
Jullieroxen Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2015  New member
Your contents are too straightforward to browse and easy to understand. accurate roofing
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:iconzarbor:
zarbor Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2014  Student
This is really great! I always have trouble with the perspective vanishing points and this helps a lot.
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2014
Good. These types of renderings are not easy to do...
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:iconmoonsgalery:
moonsgalery Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh dear god! I've searched for a tutorial like this my role life, thank you.
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014
Sure, hope it helps...
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:iconflok7:
Flok7 Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2013  Student Artist
How do you decide where to place the two vanishing points?
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2013
Good question. It's a mysterious process that probably involves trial and error on a specific piece and years of foolin' with it on hundreds. I usually don't actually find the points because they are "off the paper" and I can just estimate how important lines should converge. Some guys like to draw "steeper" lines, which makes the building look more dramatic. The point of view would be much closer. I like a more gentle angle, as if from the street. Try playing around with drawing a "two-story" rectangular box with different points. Do quick exercises to get the skill. Do five of 'em. You can vary the point of view of the eyeball too. View the building from on the ground. View the building from a hill looking straight at the roof and slightly down on the building. Try basic rectangular shapes in Google sketchup too, very easy and instructive. Then, "walk" around the building and watch what happens. Once you "get it" try more complicated shapes with roof gables, arches, etc.
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:iconflok7:
Flok7 Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2014  Student Artist
Thanks so much for the input! :D I will try it out and post the results. I've used Google sketchup before so I'll play around with it some more
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:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Like a true professional, you make it look so easy. ;)
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2013
AH, but 'tis so complicated, truly...
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:iconroskvape:
Roskvape Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Hehehe
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:iconrejvaik:
Rejvaik Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013
Now that is a tutorial!
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:iconf700es:
f700es Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2013  Professional Artist
Great tutorial :) Might have to kick my son of the drafting table, he uses it as a desk, and break out my old drafting pencils and triangles ;)
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2013
Yes! And French curves! Don't forget a sharpener.
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:iconmadarlequim:
MadArlequim Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Now that's is a nice tutorial!
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:iconyellowflowerevy:
yellowflowerevy Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2013  Student General Artist
i love you for this
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2013
Kissy kiss smooch...
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:iconyellowflowerevy:
yellowflowerevy Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2013  Student General Artist
yay
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:iconhusseinhorack:
HusseinHorack Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Woah great tutorial!! Gotta do something after I finish my Minecraft stuff.. :)
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:iconlimitlessendeavours:
LimitlessEndeavours Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2013  Professional General Artist
Super tutorial! I am struggling with drawing our possible future house, especially drawing in perspective. With this tutorial it doesn't look so impossible! Thank you very much for sharing this!
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2013
Sure, good luck!
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:iconnebride7:
Nebride7 Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2013
Very cool.  You make it looks so easy.
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:iconjessicakingstone:
JessicaKingstone Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Oh wow, this is incredibly useful! Thanks for sharing it with us :) 
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2013
Good, thanks, I was hoping this would answer some questions for specific people...
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:iconvonzott:
vonzott Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
VERY nice tutorial!  Love it!
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2013
OHHH there's Vonzott, I wuz lookin' at yer corset pics yesterday he he...thanks man...
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:iconvonzott:
vonzott Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
Heh ... they's old, they is.  I should probably, you know, do something new.  Maybe I will!

Thanks!
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2013
Yes! Update us with your newest pleasures and fancies he he...
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:icon1nsignia:
1nsignia Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Great tutorial, thank you so much :D
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2013
no prob...
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:iconthesvetislav:
thesvetislav Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2013
And agree! Respect!
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2013
Thanks!
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:icondebstarr:
Debstarr Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2013  Student General Artist
Great tutorial! Thank you for that. :)
I've always admired your work and only recently started practicing on drawing buildings myself. This will be great help! :D
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2013
Good, hope it helps...
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:iconcurtp21:
Curtp21 Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Excellent tutorial.  I'm a big admirer of your work.  (I've been working in residential design myself for 17 years...). You mentioned that you do all of your drawing on 8 1/2 x 11 paper.  How large are these sketches typically?  Are they taking up a full sheet in landscape orientation, or do you keep the paper in portrait orientation?
Either way, fantastic work.  I really enjoy browsing through your works.
I'd also love to know your viewpoint on using pattern and proportion in design (such as the golden rectangle and regulating lines).  I've recently read "the old way of seeing" and have started to use these principles in my own home designs.  Some of the old French country homes seem to achieve harmony without using such methods.  I've yet to discover the true magic in those designs... 
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2013
Yes, VG, I'm glad you brought this topic up. I've experimented with the golden means proportions, but in practice, they are very difficult to use. I have other rules I follow regarding proportions. For example, I try to avoid 12/12 pitch gables facing forward. They are unharmonious for some reason. 

But in regards to patterns and such, I find one philosophy very useful: the principle of subdivision. All things in nature are subdivided into smaller and small units and patterns, which "look good" to the human eye. In contrast, we cannot make sense of a 10'x12' rectangle of homogeneous material like plate glass or concrete. It looks alien or unnatural. To achieve visual beauty, which is very important to the human eye, we must subdivide as much as possible any surface we create!

For example, it's easy to subdivide a window into a grid of 6 rectangles over 6 rectangles to create a standard colonial style double hung window. Brick can have patterns built in, different color bricks for bands, and bricks corbeled out at different intervals, creating visual interest as well structural opportunities like buttresses. All interior walls have many opportunities to be subdivided into panels of an infinite sort really. 

An important concept is understanding HOW to subdivide. That is, there are levels and proportions in subdividing. For example, if I subdivide a window pane into four long rectangles, like in a typical bungalow window, top pane only, the proportion is 4 to 1. Now here's where it gets tricky. I can use a 3 to 1 (thirds) or 4 to 1 (fourths) proportion system to subdivide the previous subdivision!! Get it? That creates tremendous richness and continuously reduces the scale of subdividing, down to the almost invisible, if you choose. At a small level (fractions of an inch) subdividing can just be a TEXTURE. Think of half-timbering, which might have 5 and a half inch wide lumber (1x6s) spaced out at 16 inch intervals, creating a 16inch wide panel of "roughcast" (gravel like rough stucco texture), the "bumps" of which are 3/4 of an inch wide on average. Proportion system here is 16", 5 and a half", and 3/4". That's a proportion system of 3 to 1 (panel to board) and 7 to 1 (board to texture.) Got it? excellent system there! That's why I use various half-timbering in upper panels like gables all the time.

More tricks: NOW, subdivide in the vertical direction DIFFERENTLY. Length of panel 7 feet, divide by A NEW size board, like 1x8, and create a lower panel 2 feet high! See how it works? Creates tremendous visual richness.

The reason I wrote so much on this is because I'm planning a primer on these principles, which modernist doctrine threw into the garbage can as unnecessary and old-fashioned. I consider them to be almost like "holy" principles. I planning a set of sketches to illustrate these ideas, so the words above might serve as the beginning of my notes actually... 
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:iconcurtp21:
Curtp21 Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Excellent!
I cannot wait for your tutorials on these subjects.  Modern day architecture schools rarely even touch on how to design in the "old" ways.  It's even harder to find books on the subject.  Anything you are willing to share is greatly welcome.

As for the golden ratio and the Fibonacci sequence, I've found that the two work hand in hand.  A 3x5 window with a head height of 8 feet is always a sure bet.  Likewise, a bank of 3 double hung windows that form an overall mulled unit of 8 feet x 5 feet... Pure magic.  Throw in a 3x8 front door... Or a 5x8 set of double doors... And it works every time.  Likewise if you make all of the double hung windows cottage style... It adds to the design even more.

If you have any further insight on the rules behind Tudor and French country design, pleas share!  This stuff is like gold to me!
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2013
Like gold you say! We have struck it rich! Yes, I totally agree with the window arrangements you mentioned, I do similar stuff all the time. Glad you have it down to a science a bit, less of an art, more of a rule.

I'll try to concoct more rules and suggestions for Northern French and English Tudor/cottage, similar, but with some specific differences. One difference for example is that French architecture may have large round towers/turrets with cone-shaped roofs, sometimes quite squat, that Tudor generally doesn't have. Half-timbering, however, is common to both.

French architecture is highly preferred and admired amongst the clients and builders of many of America's most premium homes. I here the "French" buzzword more than any other.

Love your pumpkins, man. But, hey where's yer architectural genius at?
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:icontlclark:
tlclark Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Fantastic tutorial.
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2013
Thanks!
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:iconmitchmitton:
MitchMitton Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2013  Professional General Artist
As normal you are far above and your understanding of the method is highly refined
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2013
Thanks, and maybe I'll refine it some more. It's quite another art form to express to other people HOW it is you do something, apart from actually doing it...
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:iconjkrende:
jkrende Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
The only thing here that surprises me is that you didn't mention outlining the major features witha  heavier line than the details on the "interior"of the drawing.  

That said I am a huge fan of your style.  I have GOT to make a few pieces in your style so help me... but I do have a question:  "last rafters"  - what exactly are these?
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2013
That's just my low brow way of sayin' the fascia board or the barge board, which is the trim board or final rafter that forms the edge of the roof over the gable. You see it? Sometimes they are larger than the rafters. Example: rafters may be 2x6's on an old house, but the trim board is a 1x8. Depending on structure, there may be two rafters PAST the roof line if it is a deep overhang. On old construction they are supported by the brackets. 

About the outlining, I'll have to make myself aware of it really, I'm barely aware of it. Yes, sometimes a dark (for me) HB pencil and draw a heavy outline around the edge of the house, especially the rooflines...
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:iconouttagalaxy:
OuttaGalaxy Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2013
Wow, this is seriously amazing. Very nice tutorial, thank you!
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2013
Yup, no problem, glad you like it...
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:iconmred301:
MrEd301 Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2013  Professional Interface Designer

Darn nice tutorial!! I'm used to using a big drafting board with a couple of pins for the perspective points..

Many years ago, I picked up some perspective grid sheets that I can tape down, then draw over using tracing paper..

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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2013
Yes, old school fer sure Ed, and you can almost imagine the two pins for this one, where they might be, off the sheet. I tried a completely mechanical means of doing one of these once using a floor plan and plotting points from the plan, totally bonkers and time-consuming, but only way to do a very complex building before the computer age. I can draw them by hand faster. 
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:iconmred301:
MrEd301 Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
That tutorial is a good asset.. You have to start with good "bones" to make everything look right..
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:iconbuilt4ever:
Built4ever Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2013
Yes, the outlines at the beginning are really the "edges"  and corners of framing.
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