If you’ve been practising art seriously, you’ve probably heard people talk about the importance of linear perspective in pictures. Perspective can make or break a picture even when all the other elements are correct, so you must practice it early and often.
That said, you can break any art rule you want as long as you’re intentional about it, and perspective is a fun rule to break. Jeff Carter has built his entire art style around breaking the rules of perspective and form, so today we’ll be learning from his art class! Let’s begin.
Step 1: Sketch
Jeff Carter begins by sketching in pencil to relax while interpreting the scene he’s drawing. Today his reference photo is of two houses attached that stood out to him because they looked like “old friends”.
You can start sketching straight lines to find the overall shapes, then wobble the final lines when you’re more comfortable. I’m sketching a bit dark for demonstration’s sake, but you don’t want your lines to be very noticeable in the end.
Step 2: Ink
Once confident about your sketch, you can ink over it with a technical pen. I used a size 0.5, but you may want to go a little smaller if you have the option.
For added depth and visual interest, you can add some extra line weight by retracing some of the lines. You can see in the image above that the shrubs and gutters already look like they have some shading, and all I had to do was add line weight!
Step 3: Blue Paint
This step adds even more depth because you’re going to add some paint! Wet the area that’s going to be the sky, above the roof, and then slip some blue paint into the water. There’ll be a nice cloudy sky above the houses!
Once you’re finished with the sky, go ahead and paint some blue into the shadow areas of the houses, since having that as the underpainting will make the next step go better.
Step 4: Colour
You can be very loose and enjoy this part (and with the whole project, of course). For some interest, let’s have one half of the building be green-tinted and the other half be somewhat blue-tinted. The colours are going to meet on the porch below, so be sure to add the second colour while the first is still wet.
As you can see, I’ve added balance to the image by using green on the plant on the blue side, and blue on the attic window structure on the green side. Also, the windowpanes are all somewhat blue. Feel free to make the colours on your building different because this art style is about relaxing and following your intuition.
Painting the roof is the most fun part, in my opinion, because you get to do a marbly texture. To do this, I put brown and ultramarine on the page together and let them mix on the page however they wanted to. You might enjoy doing a few layers of this to maximize the depth. Don’t worry if any plain blue areas are left at the end, because those add contrast and character.
Step 5: Shading
Now, it’s time to get some ultramarine and add some shading that will tie the whole image together. Start with the attic windows, because if you give them a defined cast shadow, that goes a long way to make the overall picture look realistic.
Since this is a stylized picture, you can decide whether you prefer pure ultramarine or a mixture of ultramarine and brown for the shadows. I chose to mix them a bit in the same dish and then use different shades for different things. I found the mottled overlapping of both colours useful on the porch so that the texture mirrors the roof, but then a more neutral and flat mixture was nice for the doors and windows.
Once you’re finished with your painting, take a look at it to see what you can learn. By taking some time to reflect on each thing you create, you’ll speed up your learning significantly.
Do you like the colour harmonies you used? Do you like what you did with the line weight? And for this project especially, are you happy with how you used perspective and played around with the lines? Thankfully, this style of painting is forgiving and calm!
If you’d like to learn to paint even more buildings in Jeff Carter’s whimsical style, you can go to his 90-minute class! Also, subscribe to our email newsletter for updates on new lessons from new and returning artists! Happy painting!