Closing the Roof

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Let's finish off your first perspective drawing and put a roof on that cottage or cube. A roof—a simple one on a cottage or a cube, anyway—is another set of planes that are parallel to one side wall of the structure and vanish to the same point.

The roof is also centered on the end wall of the structure, which means that you have to determine the middle of the end wall. It's easy!

1. Draw light diagonals in the end wall from corner to corner.

2. Then, draw a vertical line up through the X made by the diagonals. That line is the middle of the plane or wall seen in space.

3. Measure the height of the roof, called the gable or peak, by comparing it to your base unit, the near corner that you measured to begin.

4. Draw in the peak of the roof.

5. Draw lines from that point down to the two top corners of that side or plane, and you will have drawn the shape of the gable end of the roof.

6. The ridge of the roof is the top. That line is parallel to the side of the structure and vanishes to the same point. Draw a line from the peak to the point where the side walls vanish. That is the ridge line of the roof.

7. The far end of the roof meets the back corner of the structure and is roughly parallel to the front end of the roof. It actually slants a bit more than the front end of the roof. See if you can figure out how much.

Try Your Hand

Fences and walls can be seen as long planes that vanish to a point. If they change direction, then they vanish to the other side.

A road or bridge can be seen like a house. The road is a very flat plane vanishing in space and a bridge is a complicated structure, but its parts vanish to one side or the other.

See how easy it is to draw a simple house in perspective? Lauren (upper) and one of her students (lower) give it a try.

From this point on, perspective is careful measuring and plotting of lines to position other elements like windows, doors, and chimneys correctly, and drawing them so they vanish to the right point. A complicated house has more shapes to draw, that's all.

The more you practice simple shapes in perspective, the more you will see the angles and relationships. In many cases, you will be able to estimate the angles for simple situations and use the vanishing points for more complicated ones. Is a new career in architecture or landscape planning in your future?

These lines and curves are in ratio to the base unit line.

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