Building a House from 3D Primitives
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Hello! My name is Liz Staley and I’m a long-time user of Clip Studio Paint (I started using the program back when it was known as Manga Studio 4!). I was a beta-tester on the Manga Studio 5 program and for Clip Studio Paint, and I have written three books and several video courses about the program. Many of you probably know my name from those books, in fact. I write weekly posts on Graphixly.com and on CSP Tips, so be sure to come back every week to learn more Clip Studio Tips and Tricks from me!
The addition of 3D capabilities in art software has made it easy to streamline the creation process, especially for comic artists. Now we can create a background and re-use it over and over again from different angles without having to keep track of every element in some other way or without having to do more complex drawing methods to make a decent background. But what if you need to create something that no one else has? This is where 3D primitives come in handy! With some creativity, you can create the general shape of anything with 3D primitives, from small objects to entire cityscapes. So in this article let’s create a custom house using 3D primitives.
In this article we will cover the following topics:
Creating the garage
Building the House
Let’s get building!
Creating the Garage
The house I’m going to create will be a “farmhouse” style, with a two-car garage, a two-story house with a pitched roof, and a small covered porch. I decided to start with the garage, but you could start wherever you’re most comfortable.
To build with Primitives, we need to know where they are!In the Material Library, under the 3D category, you will find the “Primitive” subcategory, shown below.
The primitives we have available are a polygon and plane (both ‘flat’ shapes that we will use later on to add windows to our house, keep reading for that!), cube, sphere, prism, and cone. We will mainly be using the cube and prism primitives to create our house.
Select the Cube primitive and drag it to your canvas. This will create a 3D layer with the default cube primitive on it.
Clicking on the 3D shape will select it and bring up the 3D controls. I won’t be going too deep into the 3D shape controls (please refer to this article for more information on how to use the 3D controls: https://tips.clip-studio.com/en-us/articles/4407 )
The garage I want to create is more of a rectangle than a perfect cube, so using one the little cube controls I will change the scale one axis at a time until I have the proportions I want.
Before adding a roof to the garage shape, I do want to change the number of subdivisions of this cube. Having each side divided into 9 squares is distracting. In the Tool Property menu, click on the small wrench icon in the lower right corner to open the Sub Tool Detail menu while the cube is selected.
Under the Primitive category on the left side, find the “Number of Divisions” settings. Using these we can increase or decrease the number of divisions. I took away all the divisions except for one on the front side of the garage (I’ll use this division to place the “garage doors” later.)
Next, let’s add a roof to the garage. To do this we need a long triangle shape. Drag a Prism shape onto the canvas (while making sure that the 3D layer is still active, otherwise CSP will add the new shape on to a new layer and the prism and cube won’t be able to interact).
The default of the Prism isn’t triangular, but we can adjust the number of sides and make it into one. Under the Sub Tool Detail menu, change the number of X divisions to 3. Now we have a triangle shape! (Increasing this number will create more of a cylinder shape, by the way!)
To make the placement of the roof easier, ensure that the Magnet icon is active (shown in yellow above the prism shape below). If there is a lightning bolt showing on the icon, then snapping is turned on.
Rotate and move the roof so that it is on top of the cube shape. Because of the way that CSP handles the rotation, I found it a little difficult to get the roof exactly straight and centered. By turning off the snapping and moving the camera so I could see the floor grid, I managed to get the roof lined up correctly in the end.
Now we have a little garage shape and we can move on to building the house.
Building the House
Now that we have the garage done, it’s time to build the house. The main part of the house is the same shape as the garage, so we can save time by copying what we’ve already made.
Click on one of the primitives, then hold down SHIFT on your keyboard and click on the other to select multiple primitives.
Then use Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V to copy and paste the primitives. Use the arrows on the 3D controls to move the copies to one side.
Though you can copy, paste, and move multiple primitives at once, if you try to scale them together they will not retain their position with respect to one another. Because of this, I adjusted the scale of the house shape and roof separately, then repositioned them.
The house design I want to make has a little wing coming off the front right of the house, so I copied, pasted, and rotated the house primitives, then scaled them until they looked correct.
With the general shape of the overall structure done, it’s time to add a porch and an awning. To make the awning, I use a Cube primitive and resized it so it was very thin. Then I rotated, moved, and scaled it until it was roughly where I wanted it.
For the base of the porch, I made another thin, long cube primitive. However, this time I increased the number of divisions on the top side to emulate planks of wood. Then I positioned it at the front of the house, underneath the awning.
As you’re building your 3D object, be sure to move the camera often to check from all angles and make sure your pieces are in the right spots. I went to put this long, skinny cube in as a support for the awning and only realized that the awning and the front of the porch weren’t lined up when I rotated my camera a bit.
As the number of pieces in your scene go up, you may have trouble selecting a specific part, especially if it’s something small that’s right up against a larger object. If this happens, locate the Tool Property window and then look for the third drop-down menu. Clicking on the down arrow to the right of this menu brings up a list of all the 3D objects in your scene. Click on an object in the list to select that object in the 3D scene.
Tweak the shapes and add as many details as you’d like. I added a few details, such as the trim on the corners of the house, but i'm leaving it fairly plain so additional detail can be added when using for reference for a drawing.
The last bit of detail that I want to add is some “Plane” shapes to mark out the locations of the garage doors and the windows of the house. The Plane and Polygon primitives are “flat” 3D shapes that are really easy to use for this purpose.
To do this I added a Plane shape to my canvas and positioned it to be one of the garage doors. Then I used the procedure above to copy the Plane. By continuing to copy, paste, resize, move, and also change the number of divisions, marking out the windows and doors is very easy!
With the house done, it is very easy to adjust the lighting and the camera angles so it can be used in many different ways. For instance, the angle below could be used as an establishing shot for two characters talking on the porch.
Or this low angle could be used for a dramatic establishing shot of a spooky haunted house!
By using this method for objects or settings that you draw often, you can save yourself a lot of time. And once you are used to working with 3D primitive shapes, it really doesn’t take long to put together something!
This method may not be helpful for the illustrator creating one-off pieces, but if you’re a comic artist who draws characters in the same locations on a regular basis it may be worth it to put those together in 3D to save time in your workflow.