Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Art Tutorial: Cylindrical Towers

What's this? A tutorial on art on this blog? Yep, yep! After years of artsy-though-mainly-cartoony work to my name, including my oft-mentioned-but-rarely-read comic, I figured it was about time that I do one of these. I'm hoping to be able to share some semi-helpful thingamabobs here now and then that will potentially teach you to draw just like Tammy Spahn (whether that is desirable is of course up for debate, but hey - the option is there and it's not running away, unlike you may be at this silly prospect).

For this post, here's something that I've had to draw lately for the comic buffer: towers!

Cylindrical towers, to be exact. Cylindrical brick towers, to be exacter. Cylindrical brick towers from a sideview perspective, to be even more specific. Cylindrical sideview brick towers named Carlisle, if I wanted this to be particularly exclusive. But fortunately for you, you can name your tower whatever you want. Yes, even Bill.

So what's so tricky about those bricky towers? Aren't they just tall thingamabobs with bricks? Drawing bricks isn't very difficult! Tiled wallpapers, progressive rock album covers, they're everywhere. Let's just do it like that.

But that doesn't look cylindrical, now does it? (Let's forget the fact that it's also vertically challenged, for the sake of preserving space.) Even if it were taller, it would simply look rectangular (or cuboid, for that matter). So how do we go about showing the tower as what it is even from this easily misleading angle? How do we expose its nature before its peers? There are of course many ways, but here's one that works well for me. We'll be using our example tower with bricks and turning it into a visibly cylindrical brick tower. (Please note that I've been taking special care to make these pixel-perfect for the examples. You most likely won't have to do this. Unless you're making pixel art, in which case you most likely will have to do this.)

Step 1:

We'll start with the outer borders. Nothing special here, really. I made these a bit thicker than the inner lines will be as it works well with the technique I'll be using for those.

Step 2:

Next we add the division lines between where the rows of bricks will be. They'd be curving in an arc for other perspectives, but since this is sideview, they're straight lines and identical to the "rectangular" tower image further up.

Step 3:

Now it's getting interesting! For this simple method, we put a "brick" in the middle of one row and a division line in the middle of the next. Your tower is of course going to be taller than two rows, so these should alternate. What I did in the upper row was divide it into three fairly equal-sized parts; the lower row is divided in half by the line in the centre.

Step 4:

Our tower is starting to take shape! What I did here is simple, but effective: the leftmost and rightmost "bricks" have been cut in half by a division line. The effect that's going to result from this is already visible in the upper row here, but not in the lower one.

Step 5:

And presto! But whoa, how were all these lines made? What I did was to simply repeat Step 4 several times: I cut the leftmost and rightmost bricks from the Step 4 illustration in half with a division line, then did the same thing with the new leftmost and rightmost bricks resulting from that, and so on until reaching (or almost reaching) the edges. It becomes more difficult (and also more pointless) the closer one gets to those; the fact we drew them as thicker lines makes it easier to still make the shape relatively convincing at the edges.

Step 6:

We're actually done with the linework, but just for fun, I went and coloured it in a way that compliments the shape somewhat. This can be done a lot better, of course.

Aaand that's it! Done right, the tower should look a lot more like a cylinder now even in sideview. Similar approaches can of course be used for other angles as well, but it's not as essential as the vertical brick division lines will not be the only thing to convey the object's shape in those cases.

And now, have fun trying this out, playing around with it, sharing it with all your friends, sharing it with all your enemies and creating some much better things than my silly example here!

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