Creating a perspective grid in Photoshop

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  05 May 2015
Creating a perspective grid in Photoshop

Hi guys, I wasn't sure whether or not to post this in the Tome of Knowledge as it isn't a direct link.

This is a technique I use for creating a perspective grid in Photoshop, it is originally from David Mattingly who possesses a wealth of knowledge, I highly recommend purchasing his book or watching his tutorials on Lynda for many more techniques like this.

Setting this up can be a little fiddly at first, but it becomes very easy once you are familiar with the steps.

Firstly, select the Paths tab next to the Channels Tab and rename it to 'Left', grab the Pen tool and create a point on the left outside the canvas, hold down Shift (to keep the line straight) and create another point on the right.

This original horizon line doesn't have to be perfect as long as the camera angle is fairly
straight, we can shift it around later.
Now using the Direct Selection Tool (A) select the right point, hit CTRL+C and CTRL+V to copy paste the original line, now move this line up slightly.
(this distance will determine the density of your grid)

Repeat this step, copy pasting from each new line until you have covered the area you need, try to keep the distance between the lines even.

If you find that it is grabbing and moving both points of a line, it may have switched to the Path Selection Tool. (black arrow) Just go back to the toolbar and change it via the fly out box.

As a side note, I find this easier to do in Fullscreen mode (F) as the canvas can be moved around freely without locking, meaning you won't have to zoom out to get more room to
move points.

Now, click and drag a box to grab the single left point, and while holding shift, drag it out to the left until the lines match the perspective of the image.
You may need to move the entire grid up or down, just make sure you grab all the points.

Now that this side is done it's time for the right side, grab the 'Left' layer, drag it down to 'New Layer' and rename this to 'Right'.

With the new layer selected you can now grab the left point and drag it over the the right, and vice versa with the points on the right.

Adjust the points until they match the image, at this stage any issues with the horizon line in the image not being perfectly horizontal will start to show and this can create a bit of push and pull before it will match up correctly.

Bear in mind that not everything will line up perfectly, be mindful of lens distortion and natural inconsistencies like sunken walls, especially in old structures.

Once you have lined up both the Left and Right Paths, it's time to make them visible as regular layers.
Go to your Layers tab, and create two new layers, name one 'Left' and 'Right' the same as your paths. I like to group these, and colour the layers according to the colour I will make the corresponding lines in the following step.

We will start with the 'Right' lines first, so make sure you have the 'Right' Layer highlighted. Now select the brush tool, change the paint colour to the corresponding layer colour (in this case, red for 'Right'). Now return to the Paths Tab, and select the 'Right' layer.

We are going to use 'Stroke Path with Brush' which is the solid ring icon second from the left at the bottom of your Paths tools. This will paint your paths onto your selected layer (If this ring is greyed out, it means your layer is not selected).

Alternatively you can right click the paths layer and select 'Stroke Path', then choose the tool from the list.

You should now see your coloured Strokes appear, to deselect the paths lines so you can see the painted ones better, click any blank area in the paths box.

You may notice the strokes are quite jagged, you can change this by changing your brush size or type. Just Undo the previous stroke, and edit your brush, I find 1 or 2 pixels is usually sufficient, although you may want thicker lines for high resolution.

Now repeat the process with the other side, highlighting the correct layer, changing paint colour and selecting the opposite paths layer.

To make the lines easier to see without having thick lines, it can often help to create a solid black layer below your perspective line layers in the same group, and setting the opacity to about 50%.

That is pretty much it, if there is a third perspective point you will generally have to create a new paths set for it and in turn a new layer and colour.
If you guys have any other suggestions or I was unclear about any of these steps, please let me know!

Last edited by Drewsen : 05 May 2015 at 04:35 AM.
  05 May 2015
Very helpful, Andrew! Thanks for posting.
If you're tired of starting over then stop giving up.
  05 May 2015
I just wanted to thank you again Andrew. This tutorial was so helpful and easy to follow. Thanks again
  05 May 2015
Or you can just use one-click solution which is called "Perspective Tools":
Our life is too valuable to waste it on a low quality work: NORDSKILL
  05 May 2015
That's a great plugin, I will definately check it out, I don't think it is compatible with every version of Photoshop though..
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