STAIRCASE CONSTRUCTION

Adding stairs to your space or environment will take your designs into the vertical dimension and
add another measure of dynamism to your architecture and interior spaces, or display systems.

Stairs are not for perspective beginners, so if you're just starting out, start with basic fundamentals of perspective and add stairs when you feel more confident with your ability to apply the basic concepts.

Many excellent perspective drawing books and videos briefly approach drawing staircases, but leave considerable details out or don't cover enough scenarios for the beginner.

Staircases make use of Sloped Plane Vanishing Points, so you'll need to become familiar with these principals before getting started.

Most tutorials build stairs one step at a time, which works fine for a few steps, but we run into big problems when we reach the horizon line and need to go higher, often resulting in a loss of the smooth repetition needed to convey believable staircases. To correct this we need to utilize both the Division System along with Sloped Plane Vanishing Points. Combining these mechanics together, we can construct highly believable stairs in any environment you're working on, with any floor-to-floor level and can be applied in 1-pt or 2-pt perspectives equally well.

GETTING STARTED

First, consider and determine the following:

  • Are you working with or planning to develop a 1-pt or a 2-pt Perspective? The mechanics are mostly the same, with some minor nuances.
  • Will the Horizon Line cut through the middle of the staircase? You'll want to use the
    Division System.
  • Are you doing just few steps for a small level change? Step-by-step method will work fine.
  • Are you going full floors, ie up to a second level or down to a lower level?
  • Are we going to be looking up to the second level, or is will your horizon line be above all the stairs so that we are looking down, as from a second floor loft?
  • Can you locate the next floor, or are you going to ? If so, you should use the Division System.
    If not, the Step-by-Step approach may work out just fine.

APPROACHES

Step-by-Step Method

This is the best way to get started and familiar the concepts. It's a great system to use when you only need a few steps, however, it presents major problems when you need a staircase that goes higher than the horizon line.

Division System

When you have a known second level height, it's best to divide the height, from floor-to-floor into evenly divided units (see Division System).

 

CATALOG OF SCENARIOS

Below are some of the most common scenarios we encounter. Be creative. Your design may be comprised of variations or combinations of similar scenarios.

TUTORIALS & HOW-TO GUIDES

PSD

 ILL

 IND

570 TOPICS

DESN THINKING

MIND / BODY / SPIRIT SUPPORT

1-PT - UP TO SECOND LEVEL,
AWAY FROM VIEWER (STATION POINT)

1-PT - DOWN FROM SECOND LEVEL AND AWAY FROM VIEWER
(STATION POINT)

1-PT - PARALLEL TO BACK WALL

2-PT - UP TO SECOND LEVEL, AWAY FROM VIEWER (STATION POINT) -
TO LEFT OR RIGHT

2-PT - STAIRS WITH LANDINGS

HL

SPIRAL STAIRCASES

Brasilia. Oscar Niemeyer

Thomas Heatherwick Studio

BEYOND THE STAIRCASE — BLEACHERS, BUILDINGS, MERCHANDISE DISPLAYS

Once you understand the system, you can be creative about your designs and apply it to many other circumstances such as the examples below.

Sinclaire Garden Pavilion at Art Center, Hodgetts+Fung

Nelson Fine Arts Center, Antoine Predock

tkts by Nicholas Leahy with Perkins Eastman

Eric Owen Moss, Culver City

Prada Store, Beverly Hills. Rem Koolhaas/OMA

Prada Store, New York. Rem Koolhaas/OMA

Longchamp Store, NYC. Thomas Heatherwick Studio

Merchandising displays. Designers unknown

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