Before starting work on a structure such as a bridge or a building, you must first poses an understanding of perspective. Let's start at the very beginning (if you already have a good grasp of how to use perspective to draw buildings, you can skip ahead to step 10 to begin working on the Golden Gate Bridge). Let's start with using one point perspective to create cubes. Using a ruler and a 2H or harder pencils, very lightly draw the horizon line (blue line) and the vanishing point (red X).
Next, draw a few squares floating in various places on the page, but not too close the vanishing point.
Draw lines from the vanishing point to the closest corners of each square (red lines). Then close off your cubes by drawing the back line of the cubes (green line), but be sure to stay within the red lines leading to the vanishing point.
Erase your unneeded guidelines leading back to the vanishing point and darken the lines of the cubes. You now have a cube created in one point perspective.
Now let's work on two point perspective. After drawing your horizon line, place two different vanishing points on opposite sides of the horizon line. This time, instead of drawing squares, just draw a few vertical lines floating on the page in various places. These lines will become the front edge of our cubes.
From the tops and bottoms of each line (cube edges), draw lines leading to both vanishing points on the page. It's ok if some of your lines run through each other because they can be erased later.
Now close off the sides of your cube in the same manner as step 3 above. But we are not done, since we still need to draw one more side of each cube.
This is where it gets a tad tricky. To finish off the cubes, we have to draw the third side on all necessary cubes. For any cube floating above the horizon line, we will draw the bottom side of the cube by drawing a lines from the bottom tips of the side edges of the cube leading to the opposite vanishing point. Similarly, for any cube floating beneath the horizon line, we will draw the top side of the cube by drawing a lines from the top tips of the side edges of the cube leading to the opposite vanishing point. Note that any cube who's front edge runs through the horizon line will not require a third edge, as it is hidden from our perspective.
Erase unneeded lines and darken up your cubes if you wish. You now know how to utilize two point perspective, and these methods can be used in a similar manner when creating the Golden Gate Bridge.
Working on a wide surface, let's first draw our horizon line and two vanishing points, since this image will be using two point perspective.
Next, let's create the basic shape of the bridge starting with the Northern tower (nearest to us). Remember to draw very lightly. These lines will just be used as a guide and will be erased later. Draw two vertical lines for the outer edge of the tower, along with the four connecting beams. Make sure the beams adhere to the left vanishing point.
We can now draw in the rest of our basic guide lines by inserting the basic shape of the South tower (furthest from us) and the road that connects the two towers. To ensure that the South tower is the proper height, draw a guide line from the tip of the right side of the North tower to the vanishing point. This will mark the height of the South tower.
Because of the angle we are working at, we should draw a cliff in the foreground of the image, covering up the lower portion of the North tower. This helps make the viewer feel as if they are actually in the illustration.
Next, draw in the two pillars that make up the North tower. Notice how the pillars are broken up into section and they have observation platforms when they meet the road.
Complete the North tower by drawing in the four connecting beams that hold the pillars in place. See how easy they are to draw since we already inserted guide lines in step 11?
Repeat the process and draw the South tower. Draw a patch of concrete at the base of the tower where it meets the water. Because of the distance, the four connecting beams will appear almost perfectly horizontal.
The road itself is a bit tricky, because it arcs upwards in the middle, which allows it to bend and sway under the weight of the traffic and because of the wind. Use your guide line as a point of reference and draw the Southern end of the road so that it bends downward ever so slightly as it recedes towards the vanishing point.
Insert the support beams that line the underside of the road. The example demonstrates the construction of the beams. Make sure that the sections get smaller as they recede towards the South end of the bridge.
Add more detail by drawing a series of additional beam crisscrossing behind our first set of beams. Also draw the large "X" shaped beams that support the lower legs of the towers.
Don't forget to add in the concrete foundation at the Southern end of the bridge, where the bridge meets land.
Now let's move on to the large cables that help hold the road. The middle arcs formed by the cables are known as "catenary arcs." They occur when a rope or cable hangs under it's own weight when being supported on either end. Notice how the cables hang so low in the middle of the bridge that they almost appear to be touching the road. Be careful not to accidentally crisscross your cables. The left cable runs along the top of the left pillar of each tower, and the right cable runs along the right leg. Notice, too, how at this angle, the mid-point of the cables appear to be far away and not in the middle of the bridge. This is only because of our perspective. Do not make the mistake of drawing the mid-point of the cables too close, or they won't look right. The mid-points should be roughly two-thirds of the way down the road.
Next, draw the thinner cables that run from the large cables down to the road. These cables hold the road in places, and are what give suspensions bridges their name. As the cables get further away, our vision will not be able to see all of them and they will appear to fade away.
Be sure to draw in some traffic and light posts. Without it, the bridge will be boring and will appear condemned.
You can go one step further and draw some white caps in the water as well as some boats. You may even want to draw some of the Southern cliff face in the distance.
Finally, ink over the image using Micron marker. Erase your pencil marks with a kneaded eraser and just look at how wonderful your illustration is! Congratulations, and welcome to San Francisco!
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