How to Draw: Anamorphic Drawing




Introduction: How to Draw: Anamorphic Drawing

An anamorphic drawing is a way of drawing that creates a 3-D effect when the drawing is viewed through a camera at a certain angle. The purpose of this instructable will be to create a very basic anamorphic drawing. This is a very basic tutorial and will only cover beginner level sketching techniques.

To complete this task we will set up a camera phone on a stand (That we will make from a strip of cardboard) and draw a picture using the perspective of the camera. This will allow us to draw a picture exactly as it appears through the lens of a camera.

To the eyes of a human with depth perception, the illusion we will create is easy to see past, which is why we will be using a camera.

Take appropriate precautions when using the materials. When using your camera on the stand be careful not to knock your camera off to avoid damaging it.

Supplies Needed:


Post-It Notes



A small, box shaped object (2"x2"x4" is roughly the size you want)

Camera phone

roughly a 2"x12" Strip of Cardboard

NOTE: The small, box shaped object will be referred to as "the object" throughout this instructable.

NOTE: This instructable will always assume the camera on your phone is on.

Step 1: Creating the Stand

The video with this step is the same as the following steps with audio and visuals.

Create your stand with your strip of cardboard.

Step 1: Fold it in half

Step 2: On one side fold back about an inch and a half, this does not have to be exact.

Step 3: Fold the newest flap in half onto itself.

Step 4: On the other side fold back the same amount from step 2.

This creates a stand that you can place your phone on. You will tape it down later and you can adjust the angle of the stand to change the pitch of the camera for your drawing.

The side with the most folds will hold your phone the best.

**Phone will not be fully supported until the stand is taped to the surface**

Step 2: Setting Up the Object.

Place the object centered and near the bottom of the paper and make 1 corner of the object roughly point towards you. Arrange the paper and stand so that your camera/camera phone can rest on the stand and see the entire object, but also have the paper close enough to you so you can draw on it. When looking through the camera, the only thing in the object's immediate background must be the paper, if there is any background other than the paper then you need to do one of the following:

1. Move the object and/or paper around until the only thing in the object's background is the paper.

2. Adjust the stand/camera phone by pitching the camera downwards until the object can fit properly in the picture.

3. Get a smaller object or a bigger piece of paper.

Image 1: Bad because the object is not angled so a corner points roughly towards you

Image 2: Bad because the object has something other than the paper in its immediate background.

Image 3: A good example, has a corner facing the artist and has nothing but paper in its immediate background.

Step 3: Taping

Once your paper and stand are arranged properly, tape the paper and stand into place. If your camera angle is off then remove the tape from the front or back of your stand and move the end towards or away from your picture to adjust the angle.

Take a moment at this point to make sure your phone is secure on the stand. If it is falling or sliding off constantly the project will be more difficult. Add as much tape as needed to keep the stand up. Tape should be on top of the stand on both ends. You want to "tape down" the ends so the stand doesn't flatten out.

Step 4: Marking the Bottom 3 Corners

There are a total of 7 corners you will need to mark to make this project work, they are all circled in Image 1. First we will mark the bottom 3.

Image 2 is labeled "Camera View" because it is a picture that is taken while the phone was on the stand we made earlier, so it is roughly what you should see on your phone.

Mark the 3 corners that you can see touching the paper through your camera (The corners marked in green in image 1)

Images 3 and 4 are top-down views of marking 2 of those corners.

Step 5: Marking the Upper 3 Corners

Now we are going to mark the outer corners that are not touching the paper (The corners circled in red in image 1).

Each picture marked "Camera View" has an alternative camera angle that is taken at the same time so for example in images 2 and 3 the pencil is in the exact same spot. This is the reason we use the camera, because you need to make a mark on the paper where the camera "sees" the corners of the object. You will need to look through the camera to create these 3 marks.

Step 6: Checkup

As of right now you should have 6 marks on your paper that are located somewhat like the marks in the image above. This is a picture from directly above the paper so it will look different through your camera. If your paper does not look like this you should revisit step 4 and make sure you are following the directions very carefully. Use the images to help you place the marks correctly.

The highest mark on the paper will be referred to as the "top mark", going clockwise they will be referred to as the following:

"upper right mark"

"lower right mark"

"bottom mark"

"lower left mark"

"upper left mark"

Step 7: The Center Mark

Make a small, vertical line on the middle of the upper edge of a post-it note (the edge with the adhesive). You should now have a small half of a plus sign made out of the upper edge of the sticky note and the line you made. Images 2 and 3 are to help visualize the plus sign. Peel off that sticky note and place it on your phone so the plus sign is centered directly on the corner (like image 4). This will be the corner circled in purple in Image 1.

Step 8: Marking the Center Mark

Remove the object from the paper, you will no longer need the object. Very similar to the method used in step 5 make a mark on the paper while looking through the camera, where the "plus sign" is centered.

This mark will be referred to as "the center mark".

You may remove the sticky note and put your phone to the side for now.

Step 9: Creating the Outline

Using the ruler, draw a total of 6 lines connecting the outline marks. It will look something like the image (this is a top down view). The purple dot is the "center mark". The dimensions should look different than a regular cube drawing.

Step 10: Finishing the Outline

Using the ruler draw lines from "the center mark" to each of the following:

**As labeled in Step 5**

"the upper left mark"

"the upper right mark"

"the bottom mark"

The end result should look somewhat like the image.

Note: the "upper edges" you drew should be parallel or very close to parallel to their lower counterparts (shown in image 2)

Step 11: Shading the Object

There should now be 3 areas that make up your object: the left area, the right area, and the top area. Very lightly, in pencil, shade the left area.

To lightly shade press very softly with your pencil and scribble back and forth inside the area. It is acceptable to leave some space between each swipe of the pencil, this gives it a lighter look.

Shade in the upper area slightly darker than the left area. To shade slightly darker push a little harder with your pencil and leave less space between each swipe of the pencil.

Shade the right area darker than the top area but do not make it as dark as you can, you will want to save that for the next step.

Image 1 is a camera view and image 2 is a top down view.

Step 12: Giving Your Object a Shadow

Note: All distances should be the same, if you choose 1.5 inches for the first mark then use 1.5 inches as the rest of the measurements. If you are using regular sized paper then 1 inch is recommended.

Using your ruler make a mark about 1-2 inches right of "the bottom mark". (image 1)

Make another mark 1-2 inches from "the lower right mark". (image 2)

Make a 3rd mark about 1-2 inches up the left edge of the object (marked in red on image 1 and example show in image 3).

Using your ruler, make lines to connect these 3 marks to make an outline. Your shadow outline should look like that in image 4.

Fill in this area as dark as you can with your pencil. This area is your object's shadow. Press the pencil pretty hard and leave no space between each swipe of the pencil. If you find your shadow is as dark as, or lighter than, your right side you will need to go over your shadow again to make it darker. When you are done your shadow should look similar to that in image 5.

Step 13: Cutting Out Your Object.

Using your ruler, make a horizontal line that is perpendicular to the edge of your paper. This line should be about 1 inch above the highest point of your shadow and the line should not go through the drawing of your object. (Images 1 and 2)

To do this, start your line from the edge of the paper, when your pencil reaches the edge of the object, lift your pencil and resume drawing your line on the other edge of your object. (Image 3 for example)

Untape the paper from your surface.

Cut along both parts of the line you drew. Next, cut along the edges of the drawn object that are above the horizontal cuts you have made (image 4). This should remove the upper portion of the background to your drawn object.

Step 14: Taking the Final Picture

Flatten your paper, put your camera back on the stand, and take a picture. This angle makes your picture look 3-D, from most other angles, your drawing will not look 3-D.

Lifting your camera higher while still looking at the drawing will slightly change the way your drawing looks, if you so desire.

Image 1 is a view from the stand.

Image 2 is a top down view.

Image 3 is the picture held up to see how it really looks.

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    Tip 11 months ago

    This is one of my favorite kinds of art... Have you ever heard of Fino?
    It's a free app that allows you to "project" a photo onto a drawing surface. (basically a camera lucida).
    I've used it for this with satisfactory results... it makes the drawing part of the process much faster and easier.
    To use it, you will need a phone stand like the one in this instructable.
    1. open the app and browse your photos/downloads for the photo you would like to use.
    2. open the photo and adjust the opacity until you can see your drawing surface (and your hand/pencil).
    3. you will probably want to skew the photo (rotate it forwards/backwards) along the x-axis in order to get it to look like it is situated @ a right angle to the surface through the camera.
    4. start tracing the photo!
    5. when you're finished, you can close the app or turn the opacity off completely to view your finished drawing as an anamorphic drawing! You may wish to add the shading after using the app though; it's kinda hard to do it properly through the app.