Yes, You Too Can Draw! – Ch 14: Drawing A Ramp & Stair Case In Perspective


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In this edition of Yes. You Too Can Draw!, I plan to cover a topic that can fascinate many newbies. Many of you will eventually draw some type of urban landscape, a.k.a. a scene usually involving buildings. Many buildings feature staircases cases and ramps. After this chapter, you’ll no longer have to fake drawing a ramp or a flight of stairs.

What We Learned From Last Time

Before we push forward, let’s review what we learned from the previous chapter:

Let’s Learn How To Draw A Ramp!

When I first started this article (a really long time ago), I hadn’t considered how a ramp would be a great foundation for drawing a flight of stairs. But drawing a ramp is actual integral to drawing a staircase. Follow along and you’ll see how ridiculously easy this all is!


Step 1: Set Up Your Horizon Line

Decide where to place your horizon line and draw it.

Decide where you’ll want your horizon line. Remember where you place your horizon line will determine the viewer’s eye level.

Step 2: Draw In Your Vanishing Points

Adding vanishing points to the horzion line

At this point, we’ll drop in our vanishing points (in pink). This will be a two-point perspective drawing. The vanishing point to our left will function as a usual vanishing point. The vanishing point to our right will serve two purposes:

  1. Determine the length of our ramp.
  2. Determine the height of our ramp.

Step 3: Determine The Height of Your Ramp

Draw in a vertical line to help determine the height of your ramp.

Here’s the big secret to drawing ramps and stairs. At the right vanishing point, we’ll draw a vertical line (in green) as high as you want. Then place another vanishing point on your new vertical line to help us create the angles of our ramp.

Step 4: Draw In Your Foundation

Add convergence lines to determine length of ramp.

This point, we sketch in the foot print of our ramp. First we’ll draw a convergence line (in blue) from the right vanishing point. The blue vanishing line will help us determine both the length of our ramp and where our ramp ends as it meets the flat ground.

Step 5: Create The Ramp

Draw convergence line from the vanishing point on the vertical line to the ground.

From the right-hand vanishing point, we’ll draw two convergence lines (in brown) that will intersect directly into the blue vanishing line. Where the brown vanishing lines, coming from our right, intersect the blue convergence line coming from the left, two new intersection points are created (marked in orange).

From those two points, we’ll draw lines (in yellow) from the intersection points to the vanishing point on our vertical line (in red).

Step 6: Trim Your Ramp

Draw a convergence line from the left and have it cross the top of your ramp

Unless your ramp starts from a ridiculously long distance, you’ll need to create a place where it starts. We’ll draw a convergence line (in light blue) from the vanishing point to our left and have it cut across the yellow convergence lines. This will create two new intersection points (marked in dark blue).

Draw more lines to further trim the ramp.

From the two dark blue intersection points, we’ll draw two new vertical lines (in magenta) that will meet the two convergence line in brown. If we connect the points to our left-hand vanishing point, we’ll have a bottom that’s in perfect perspective.

Clean Up Your Ramp

Clean up the ramp in pencil

See how easy it was? Drawing a ramp was hardly a challenge. But now that you have a ramp, you’ll also have the foundation for your flight of steps.

From Ramps To Stairs

Step 1: How High Is That Step?

Start with a small vertical line and connect the top to the two vanishing points on the horizon line.

We can actually start from either the top or the bottom of our ramp. I’ve decided to start from the bottom of the ramp.

To determine the height of our first step, we’ll draw a small vertical line (I drew in purple) in the foreground. The top of this small vertical line will connect convergence line emanating from both of the vanishing points on the horizon line. You’ll see a triangle form.

Step 2: What’s The Length Of That Step?

how to determine the length of a stair step

The bottom of our purple vertical line will connect to the yellow vanishing point (via a magenta convergence line) on the vertical line that helped us determine the height of our ramp. The intersection points created by our new magenta convergence line will connect to the light blue vanishing point to our left.

How to determine the width of a stair step.

On the other side of our ramp, we will create the other end of our first step. Draw a new convergence line from the green vanishing point to our right-hand side to where the middle yellow convergence line (coming from the light blue vanishing point to our left) meets the far edge of the ramp. (Look for the green arrow.) Draw a new vertical line from that same point to the base of the ramp.

Congratulations! You’ve just created your first step.

Step 3: Rinse and Repeat

draw the rest of your stair steps

All you have to do now is to repeat the process until you have steps that reach the top of your ramp. Pretty straight forward. What sucks is that you’ll need to use a ton of convergence lines. But once you get going, you’ll be drawing like a machine.

Before you know it, you’ll have a full flight of stairs. Not so tough, huh?

The final fluht of stairs, cleaned up and finished in pencil. Morty stands at the top.

Your Homework Assignment

For those of you that actually practice these lessons, your homework assignment is to draw an entire flight of stairs. I’ll give you extra credit if you can draw two flights of stairs that connect to each other. Post it in the comments section below, the official FaceBook Fan Page, or on Twitter using the hashtag #YYTCDCH15. (An awful hashtag, I know.)

If it’s good, I’ll print it out a put it on my fridge. Good luck!