After somebody saw my Stairway to Heaven drawing, I was asked how to draw such a stairway and I though I would explain it step by step in this post. A stairway can be very effectively used as a main element leading viewers eyes towards focal points in a drawing and adds great visual appeal to a drawing. In this tutorial, I will show how one can be drawn using very simple strokes. So, follow along and have fun.
Step 1: Draw the Main Outline
Main aspect of stairway is that the stairs become smaller in size as they move away from viewer due to perspective. To account for that, draw tapered sides as shown below. Theory of perspective is quite involved and I won’t go into its details here, but most importantly, make the taper believable (not too much, not too little). Also, a stair in natural setting, like here, is more forgiving from perspective point of view than a perfectly proportioned stair in an architectural setting.
Step 2: Draw Stairs Outline
Depending on angle of view, the step (horizontal part) of a stair is either visible very less (when viewer is located below the stairs looking up) or if the viewer is in same/higher plain than stair, then the steps are visible more. Following shows how to draw stairs with less visible steps and when steps are more visible.
In this post, we will use the first case, when steps are less visible. Stairs are drawn in this case as shown below for the outline drawn earlier. Decrease in size of stairs again follows perspective. Decrease the size (vertical distance) so that it feels plausible.
Step 3: Darken the Side of Stairs
Side of stairs usually receive lot less light and so should be darkened as shown below. This also helps to bring the stairs out against a dark background.
Step 4: Draw Horizontal Steps
In the case when horizontal steps are not visible, we still need to give some indication for them. This is done by irregularly darkening the horizontal lines and making them bit thicker. This serves to indicate stair steps.
Step 4: Texture Vertical Risers
Finally, use a mix of parallel lines and tapered crevices to texture the vertical steps (risers) as shown below. Click on the drawing to see details. Make the edges zagged to give it bit broken, old feel. The amount of details also depends on the size of drawing. My Stairway to Heaven drawing is bigger in size and hence has more details on the stairs.
Step 5: Finish
A stairway needs to be usually complemented with other elements on its side. To give an indication of curved side, use curved parallel lines as shown below. Other elements can then be added as shown below to give it a finished feel.
Very quick pleasing drawings incorporating stairs can be done as shown in following 2 examples below. A stone embankment provides a great side element with stairs leading the way between them as shown below. Drawing stone embankment is illustrated in vol. 3 of my pen and ink drawing workbooks.
Following is a more involved drawing with stairway in a forest setting. Drawing forest and wooded area is discussed in detail in vol. 5 of my pen and ink drawing workbooks and also in these tutorials and this step by step drawing post. Once you learn to draw a wooded area, try incorporating a stairway in it to give it a different feel.
This completes this tutorial. Hope you found it useful and inspiring. Doing such simple drawing with pen and ink is very relaxing and rewarding. Give it a try.
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