Pixel Art Tutorial #2 – Perspective & Basic 3D Shapes


This tutorial will be short. We will learn about perspective, draw basic 3d shapes, and get the idea on how to draw these 3D shapes in different lengths, widths, heights, and angles. We will use these basic shapes as a guide to draw more complex shapes. In future tutorials, we will use this technique and apply color and shading. Lets get started!




This first step is really important! Before getting started on making sprites and tile sheets for your game, you want to figure out how you want the perspective or view, because that’s how you’re going to draw ALL your images. The most common perspective we see in 2d Games is a platform game, where players move left and right on the screen. When I make a platformer, I like to have the view angled a little bit, so players can see the top of the platform, so the scene doesn’t look completely flat, but this is entirely up to you.


BASIC 3D Shapes


When sketching, artists use three basic three-dimensional objects as a guide to make their sketch:
– cube
– cylinder
– sphere


basic 3D shapes


We can apply the same technique to pixel art, however, we usually don’t use the same rule sketch artists use when it comes to field of view (FOV). The reason why is because in reality, the view of the object changes as we move left and right. In a 2D video game, you can’t accomplish this because the image is not 3D. While the object in our game may look 3D, it’s still just a flat image.




These are examples of cubes when we change the view from left and right.


cube moving leftcube moving right


This is another example of a realistic cube:


real world 3D cube


This is how we will be drawing cubes in pixel art:


pixel art 3D cube


This cube kind of creates an optical illusion, so I filled in the face in front with a lighter color. Notice how the front and back face are equal in size. This doesn’t happen in the real world, but this is how we will draw our cubes in pixel art.


To draw a cube is easy, just start with two squares the same size, and connect the corners.


drawing a cube




Spheres are basically just circles, but if you want some sort of guide to draw things like a face, you can draw lines in the center and draw ovals inside.


drawing a sphere




Now this one bothers me a lot, and I see a lot of people do this. This is not how you draw a cylinder. The cylinder in the picture below is round at the front end, but flat at the back end. A cylinder needs to be round at both ends.


how not to draw a cylinder


Drawing a cylinder is easy. Start with two ovals or circles, connect them with two lines, and erase one of the inside edges. Look at the image below to see what I mean.


how to draw a cylinder


In a way, pixel art is a lot easier than sketching because our 3d shapes will be simple. It’s important to learn how to draw these shapes, because you can use them as a guide to draw more complex shapes. Practice on your cylinders and squares at different angles, when you think you have it, you can move on to the next tutorial. I will show you how to use outlines, colors, and shading to draw really cool images.


About Justin

Computer programmer and owner of kauergames.com.
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