How to Draw Things to Look 3D

By Mark Stansberry
Contrast light against dark to make things appear 3D.
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Making on object appear 3D requires that you size, contrast and shade your objects correctly. Developing a drawing with a 3D appearance requires an awareness that an object that is closer appears to be larger, have sharper edges, greater contrast and a higher light intensity than the same object farther away.

Overlay objects that you want to appear closer so that they partially cover objects that you want to appear farther away. Make the objects in front (foreground) larger than the objects in the distance (background).

Draw the objects in the foreground at a position lower on the paper than objects in the background if the objects are below your eye level. Draw the objects in the foreground at a position higher on the paper than objects in the background if the objects are above your eye level.

Don't shade things you want to appear in the foreground or shade them with light shades of gray. Shade things you want to appear in the background with dark shades of grey or black.

Develop the composition such that there is a stark contrast (difference in darkness of shading) between things in the foreground and things in the background. Don't create 3D compositions with things that are all shaded at the same value of light or dark.

Develop the contrast such that it emphasizes objects that are closer with larger sizes and wider lines. Use curvature and angles of lines to emphasize the fact that curves and lines on an object recede to a common point in the distance.

Draw things that are to appear in the foreground with sharp, crisp lines. Draw things that are to appear in the background with fuzzy or poorly defined lines.

Shade objects that you want to appear closer with higher levels of contrast. Shade objects that you want to appear farther away with lower levels of constrast.

About the Author

Mark Stansberry has been a technical and business writer over for 15 years. He has been published in leading technical and business publications such as "Red Herring," "EDN" and "BCC Research." His present writing focus is on computer applications programming, graphic design automation, 3D linear perspective and fractal technology. Stansberry has a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from San Jose State University.