I’ve been asked a few times recently about how I draw isometric buildings. Here’s the run down.
Use some rectangles to get an interesting floor plan. Don’t go crazy, but don’t just do a single rectangle – that leads to dull uniform buildings.
2. Make it isometric
Spin the shape around by 45 degrees (or a random amount if you want less exactly isometric buildings). Then shrink vertically by 57.7%.
3. Create a wireframe
On a new layer, using your base as a starting point, ink in the outline. Begin with the vertical walls – remember holding shift in your program of choice will likely force the line to stay perfectly vertical (it does in photoshop and gimp). Outline some roof lines, and ink along the leading edge of the base (easy to forget). This step is key as it’ll determine whether the shape is believable or not. For diagonal lines, use the diagonals of the base as a reference. You want to follow that angle as closely as possible with your other diagonals or the shape will look wonky.
You can also use an isometric grid layer to guide you – here’s a handy grid you can import as a background layer.
4. Start detailing
Remove the base layer (the filled shape), and create a new layer. On this layer start adding details. Begin with the big pieces – doors and windows. If you have a repeated shape (multiple similar windows), draw it once, then copy and paste that element multiple times. They should be exactly the same, so make them exactly the same. For elements that are inset, make the line weight of the edge further away from you heavier. This make it look like you’re seeing the inset wall on the far side.
When adding features, add a few that break up the silhouette of the building. Here I’ve added some roof windows and some crenellations.
5. Finish detailing
Once you have the structural doors and windows, it’s down to textural detailing. I’ve added stones to the walls, and tiles to the roof. These will also follow diagonals – so they really help to sell the isometric perspective (but remember, you really need to follow the correct diagonal – it takes practice, but it’s worth it). I also added a flag to the tower, for fun, and as a place to add some un-expected colour. And some lines to indicate the surrounding terrain, including a couple of lines leading up to the door.
There you have it, a nice line art building. Zoom out to 1/3 the size, and it’ll look great!
This is the process I use for #hexallthethings