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I have a simple task:

I want to create a train track that's slightly curved and disappears in the distance. The best I've achieved so far is the following image which I created with Affinity Photo:

Train Tracks Curved

It transports the idea but when you have a closer look, it's clear that the perspective is wrong: The planks should get much thinner in the distance, but they appear to be somewhat distorted instead.

How can I do this right?

I guess I'll have to start with something like the follwing as a first step. What's step number 2?

Train Tracks

(I currently don't have an Adobe subscription, so I'd welcome a solution with Affinity or Inkscape or some other software. But I'm also curious how an Adobe solution would look like.)

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I am not an Affinity Photo user. However, I should imagine like most image editors it has a distort transform tool.

What I would do is begin with a curved railway track in 2 dimensions, then distort it for perspective, and rotate as required.

This example was first made in Inkscape. Where I made a pattern for one railway segment then repeated it as a Pattern Along a Path. If doing this in Illustrator, a custom brush could be created and used similarly.

enter image description here

Then I converted the object to paths, and copied and pasted into GIMP where it was distorted and rotated, but the same would be possible in Illustrator/Photoshop or virtually any decent raster/vector image editors with distortion tools.

enter image description here

The point here is not the software used, but the curved 2D railway track you start with and the final transform and rotation.

Just as a side note, it's also possible to do a similar transform directly in Inkscape using Extensions > Modify Path > Perspective in conjunction with a quadrilateral to define the transform.

To create the quadrilateral for this extension, you must start at the bottom left with the pen tool, and create it in a clockwise direction.

Example

enter image description here

  • Great explanations, thank you! It took me another 3 hours to get the results I wanted. (For example, I wanted the perspective to appear as if the observer is standing on the track, right in the center. This required an additional invisible shape left of the curved track which I then grouped with it so that the "bottom" of the track was in the center of the group.) I guess for this kind of work it's really better to use a special 3d rendering program which would have the additional advantage that the resulting image is scalable. – Mischa Feb 18 at 18:38
  • I can use a combination of Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo for achieving the same results as you suggested. However, the problem is that the lower part (in the front) is blurry with this approach. The reason is that due to the extreme perspective distortion pixels in this part need to be interpolated. Another reason for using a 3d renderer in my opinion... – Mischa Feb 18 at 18:47
  • @Mischa - well yes, but for simple vectors, 2D software might be preferrable. It really depends what you are using it for. If you can create it solely in vector software, such as in Affinity Designer/Inkscape/Illustrator, then there will be no blurring. – Billy Kerr Feb 18 at 18:49
  • I haven't found a way to make that possible. Affinity Designer does not provide a perspective distortion tool, only Affinity Photo has that and it only works with rasterized graphics. In Inkscape it works the way you suggested but it's tedious because you have to manually draw the perspective plane (the quadrilateral) and you don't see live updates how the train track changes when you modify the plane. – Mischa Feb 18 at 18:55
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    @Wildcard I use ShareX for gif recording. There are no additional steps to do, so not sure what you mean by how long did those take to make. The software can record screens and converts directly to GIF. – Billy Kerr Apr 15 at 8:34
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In Affinity Photo have a straight piece of the railway as you already drew.

Make it curved with Mesh warp. Remember to apply the effect to make it fixed

enter image description here

It's not geometrically perfect, it would be better to draw it originally to curved, but that's maybe easier in Affinity Designer. There you can have a piece of railway as image brush and you can draw easily as long piece and as curved as you want.

In A.Photo the next step is to add perspective with Perspective Warp:

enter image description here

Again apply the effect to make it fixed.

Not asked: If you have perspective and at least the nearest end of the rails are in a big size, you maybe should draw them as 3D. That's complex. Here's an elementary draft from a freeware CAD with non-realistic dimensions, rail cross sections and materials

enter image description here

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    The geometrical imperfection of my original image was the very reason for me to ask this question. ;) I don't find the results of mesh distort satisfying and therefor prefer the approach explained by Billy Kerr. But you're probably right that a 3D / CAD software would be the way to go (see my comments to the other answer). – Mischa Feb 18 at 18:50
  • Perfect time look at learning Blender, I'd say. [blender.org/] – GerardFalla Feb 19 at 17:37
  • @Mischa before scrapping Inkscape, check what's in the beginning of the edit log of my answer. I deleted it, because there had popped up a few minutes older Inkscape answer which was nearly the same, but actually it's different just in why you saw Inkscape too rigid. – user287001 Feb 20 at 1:12

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