The purpose of this tutorial is to show you how to create an anamorphic image with Adobe Photoshop and then use this image as a template to create an anamorphic drawing.
An Anamorphic image is a deformed image that appears in its true shape when viewed in some “unconventional” way, according to Webster’s Dictionary. Perspective Anamorphosis date back to the fifteen century. The earliest known artist who made use of this was Leonardo Da Vinci.
An Anamorphic image is therefore nothing but a distorted projection or drawing that appears normal when viewed from a particular angle or with a suitable mirror or lens.
Anamorphic drawings are difficult to detect with the eye. However, the effect is clearly seen through the lens of a camera or by taking a photograph.
Creating a Grid Block
1. Open Photoshop and create a new file, 250px wide and 250px high. This will be the size of each grid block.
2. On the Menu: Select > All
3. On the Menu: Edit > Stroke
4. Make the stroke Width = 5px and OK
5. Edit > Define Patern
Creating the Grid
1. In Photoshop, create a new file, 2500px wide and 3000px high.
2. Edit > Fill
3. Set Use to ‘Pattern’ and Custom Pattern to the grid block you defined earlier.
Creating a Perspective Plane
We will now duplicate this grid and create a perspective plane upon which we will place the object.
1. On the top Menu: Layer > Duplicate Layer
2. On the Tools Bar: Choose the Move Tool. The first tool at the top.
3. Grab the top middle handle of the grid and move the handle down to resize the height of the grid to about one third from the bottom.
4. Edit > Transform > Perspective.
5. Grab the top left handle of the grid and pull the handle towards the center until the grid looks like this page’s reference photo. Apply the changes.
Placing The Object
We now have a perspective plane upon which we will layer the object we want to transform.
1. Simply open the image you want to transform and drag the image on top of the grids to create a new layer.
2. Re-size the image so that it fits our perspective plane.
Lining Up The Grids
To successfully create the anamorphic image, we need to re-align the perspective plane with the original grid.
1. Open Photoshop’s Layers Window. Select both the perspective plane and the image.
2. On the Tools Bar: Select the Move Tool.
3. Grab the top middle handle and drag the top line towards the top. This way you will re-size the two layers to be the same as the image height. This will stretch the image.
Lining Up The Grids
1. Edit > Transform > Perspective
2. Grab the top left handle and move the handle to the left, away from your image. This will line up the second grid with the original grid. It is important to be as precise as possible when lining up the grids.
3. Select and delete both grid layers so that you only see the anamorphic image. You can now flatten and save this image. Print the image on an A4 or letter-size paper.
You have now completed the process of transforming the original image into an anamorphic image.
Light and Shadow
Part of the illusion of anamorphosis is to add a drop shadow to your image. When creating the shadow keep in mind the direction of the light. If your object sits on the paper, then the shadow will touch the object.
If you desire to create the illusion of an object floating just above the paper surface, place the shadow a small distance away from the bottom of the object to the left or right. This way we assume the light source is from above…to the right or left.
Anamorphic Drawing Process
Since my reference photo is in color, I decided to draw the apple using colored pencils. Drawing in color requires layering multiple colors on top of each other. The initial layers must be light in value. As you try to darken and intensify the value, add more layers and each time press harder down on the pencil.
I have started to layer the first sections of light green values. I will use Prismacolor Colored Pencils for the entire drawing. You can find your own set here: Prismacolor Colored Pencil Set
Initial Color Layer
Most of the main shape is now filled with an initial layer of color. Pay close attention to where most of the detail is. Additionally, keep the value of the glare as light as possible.
This light “spot” is one of the key values and the lightest part of the drawing. The glare will intensify during later stages when darkening the surrounding areas.
By pressing slightly harder on the pencil, I now intensify the red color and value. The apple’s surface is mostly red.
By observing the reference photo carefully, you will notice that the red value has cooler and warmer parts. The apple is cooler in value towards the bottom and warmer towards the center. The overall value will therefore be a blend of different reds.
I also carefully marked out the detailed spots and left it white.
Although I have not used a specific blender to blend the color, I used a pale yellow over both green and red layers. This especially came in handy where I needed to blend around the edges of the light glare.
The pale yellow also worked its magic where small sections of red skin can be seen on the green value to the left of the apple. This made the red slightly cooler. I mostly used the yellow on the left side over the green and the bottom of the apple where the red is more pinkish.
An initial layer of green was added for the stem shadow. I layered the darker part where the stem is with a dark green.
Since the light source is on the left of the object, a dark shadow will wrap around the right side of the apple. In most cases with round objects, a lighter area will be on the other side of the shadow close to the edge. This light is called reflective light and usually bounces back into the object. Adding reflective light to a round object makes for a more realistic drawing.
On the upper middle section green values overlap or weave into the red. I used the pale yellow pencil over this area to pull the colors together.
A deeper red was use to create the shadow section. More layers of dark red and eventually black will be added to the shadow.
According to the reference photo, the mid section of the apple is warmer. To warm this up I added a deeper yellow-orange color randomly over the red values.
The stem also received an initial layer of light brown hues.
Deeper reds and black allowed me to darken the shadow.
I completed the stem and worked on darkening the shadow. Shadows tend to appear darker closer to the object that casts the shadow. The shadow then gradually becomes lighter as it falls away. The stem shadow is a blend between dark green and some red.
I added the green and darker values on the top of the apple. I also added more black to intensify the shadow.
This completes the drawing of the apple.
The Main Shadow
An anamorphic image will not have its full visual effect without a shadow. Like the stem, the main shadow appears to be darker closer to the apple. Pay attention to the positioning of your light source before you draw the shadow.
Cutting the Paper
Finally, we have to cut out a portion of the paper…to add to the illusion. The illusion we desire is having the apple sit on top of a piece of paper.
Simply draw a straight line horizontally through the paper. Only draw the line on the white parts of the paper and not your actual drawing. The line should be next to the mid section of the apple. Make sure the line is well above your shadow.
Cut through the line with a pair of scissors as well as the upper part of your drawing. Make sure to cut as close as possible to the edge of the drawing without ANY white paper showing.