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If you've ever seen sidewalk pictures that appear so real it seems as if they're actually part of the landscape, you've seen artwork created with anamorphic 3-D painting techniques. From all viewpoints but one, the painting will appear odd or stretched out of shape. Anamorphic means to purposely distort an image along two perpendicular axes to fit within a frame or to give it a three-dimensional appearance when viewed from exactly the right spot.
The Perspective Grid
Before you can paint an anamorphic 3-D painting, draw out a perspective grid on paper or canvas. At the base of the paper, the squares are all equal size, but as they move toward the top, the individual grids become smaller, coming to a vanishing point off the page somewhere in the distance. Add numbers to each line of the grid, starting from the back and moving forward along the right or left side for the lines that are horizontal in the grid. Also do the same for the lines that run vertically in the grid. This helps you complete your final painting.
Sketched Image and Second Grid
Sketch the image on the perspective grid as you would draw it on a blank piece of paper, staying within the grid as you draw. Do not draw outside the grid lines. On the canvas or paper where you plan to paint the final image, lightly draw the grid lines flat, without the perspective horizontally and vertically. Use the same amount of grid lines as you did for your perspective grid. Each of these horizontal and vertical lines must correspond to the grid line numbers from the perspective grid, although the squares can be much bigger -- up to 10 times bigger if desired -- but they must be of equal size in this grid to help you distort the image when you draw it.
Redraw the Image
On the new larger piece of paper or canvas, draw the image again, copying the shapes from each individual square from the perspective grid. As you reach the top of the page, because the perspective grid gets smaller, these areas on the enlarged paper are going to get bigger and appear more stretched. This is the way it should be with an anamorphic image that you want to appear in three dimensions. Copy the entire image from the smaller perspective grid onto the larger sheet freehand.
Paint, Shadow and Highlight
Erase all the lines from the picture with an art eraser; do not erase the drawing. Brush off the paper or canvas, and begin painting. As you paint the picture, don't forget to include shaded areas and shadows in the work along with highlighted areas to give the painting depth and realism. When shading and blending, use two different colors in the same family to create the depth, a darker and lighter version of the same hue. Choose a third, darker, color for deeper shadows -- for example purple for a red and red-orange rose to create darker shadow areas between the rose petals -- and use white to create highlights where needed. Add a shadow to the image at the bottom. Set the image where it can be viewed as if it were 3-D. Some artists prefer to cut out the image from the paper to help give it depth.
What does Cape Town have in common with New York, Sao Paulo, Berlin, London and Paris? It may not appear as the obvious answer at first, but Cape Town joins these other cities as one of the world's top destinations when it comes to graffiti or street art, as is fast becoming the preferred term. Traversing simple acts of vandalism and maturing into a fully fledged art form, street art is conscious of itself and its strength to communicate with people. For this reason street art, perhaps more than any other form of art, carries strong social and political messages. This is incredibly evident on the streets of Cape Town, which abound with striking pieces that are not only beautiful but also insightful and loaded with meaning.