Carapace

One of the ongoing issues in my artwork is perspective. Like a lot of people, I find it difficult to do right, but easy to notice when it’s wrong. But I’ve never been able to find a really good, easy-to-use tool to help me with it. There are classic perspective grids available, and Photoshop has a perspective tool; but I find the Photoshop tool to not really offer what I want – I want a visual guide, not something that actually alters objects for me.

Carapace is software that simply lets you quickly create perspective grids from guide photos. You can place up to nine vanishing points and save the resulting grid to your clipboard for exporting into your own image editor.

gridmenuI won’t say that Carapace is the program of my dreams. For starters, it’s only available for Windows. The interface is bare-bones and relies wholly on hard-to-recall keyboard combinations (see the options menu at left, click for larger photo). It also doesn’t export grids directly – you need to do that yourself by pasting clipboard contents into a different program.

However, it is free. And for quick creation of reference grids, it can’t be beat. You can drop a vanishing point to wherever you want, and the perspective lines will be drawn for you. By right-clicking and dragging on a perspective line in a source photo, then choosing another line in the photo along the same plane, you can instantly see where your resulting vanishing point is. (Educational!) I applied this one of my own drawings. (You can see where vanishing point 1 is, but point 2 is off the screen, though the perspective lines for it have been drawn onto the picture.)

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I took a screenshot from Fringe and ran it through Carapace to produce a three-point perspective grid. Pretty cool! (You can download the resulting grid by itself here.)

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I’m not sure why Photoshop doesn’t seem to offer such a simple and useful way to actually DRAW grids, but for now, Carapace is one of the only solutions. I also wonder why no one has written an iOS app for this yet. (Freddie Williams offers a perspective path tool on his website, but that involves mucking around with paths in Photoshop.) Hopefully the author of Carapace will update the software to export grids in PNG format and consider a Mac version too.

You can download Carapace for free here (requires Windows and .NET 4.0)

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