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Learning Perspective as a Necessary Foundation

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Learning Perspective as a Necessary Foundation


Whereas the truth has been sufficiently impressed upon me that one cannot be serious about drawing professionally unless one is able to draw a box from an angle at any distance, I am endeavoring to master this modest yet fundamental ability, as a basis upon which to further explore the art of animation.

I'm not trying to debate the point above. I'm just asking for some help doing it.

Specifically - has anyone here ever tried the perspective DVD's at ? Are they any good? I've been working out of "Perspective Without Pain", and it's been a great start, but I'd like to proceed into something rather more in-depth, with lots of theorytalk.

Also, can anyone suggest any exercises to improve my ability to orientate the surfaces of a box drawn from imagination? Vilppu's book suggests drawing a box hopping or tumbling along, with personality, across the surface of a piece of paper. That's been very helpful so far, but I still have some difficulty conceiving of a precise orientation for the surface of the box before making any mark - to me, what I'm presently producing feels a little random, a little exploratory, a little by-chance. I just don't feel as if I'm completely in charge and making all the decisions about it, if that makes sense - like I'm reacting to my initial line(s), rather than comprehending their purpose before I've made them. So any exercises to improve that sphere of thought would be most helpful.

Thank you very much.

Perspective is one of those artisitic skills that I think is overly stressed about.
There's so much needless BS about that its not funny.

What I think is the problem is how its taught and I used to throw in a 10 minute perspective instruction lesson in my storyboard classes, in that I'd teach how to do perspective in 10 minutes.
Its really THAT easy.

Look, the way everyone else is taught is this: its done BACKWARDS.

They are instructed to draw the horizon lines, then the vanishing points, then the radiating lines and then you've drawn the effin' Taj Mahal!
How the hell do you get the Taj Mahal?!!??
Its like trying to ride a bicycle backwards sitting on the handlebars.

You need to keep in mind only some VERY simple rules.
One is the horizon line, the other is the vanishing point.
Remember in grade school when everyone realized they could draw a set of railroad track heading off into the distance, usually to a mountain with a small train tunnel visible?
The really cool chic kinds did it on a angle--remember that?
That's the guiding principle here; that those "parallell" lines receding into the distance converge at some point ( the vanishing point). Of course, its an illusion, but for drawing an image, that's most of what we need.

Now........when faced with doing a drawing in perspective, trust the good ol' Mark 1 eyeball. Never been a Mark 2 version made because they got it right with the Mark 1--it works.

If you have to draw a building, draw it out on the page in light, loose ruff form. Use the frame of the page to compose the image ( this is the crux of this "new method" I'm telling you about) and one you have the basic construction of the object, THEN determine where the vanishing points are based on the outer contoiurs of the form, and bridge those vanishing points to get your horizon line.

To wit; you draw the object first, THEN CORRECT IT FOR PERSPECTIVE!This way you can control the composition of the image and the form of the object, which is why the traditional method usually fails students. The traditional way gives you no practical way of defining the forms or contours quickly or easily.
The traditional way its taught has to get you undertsanding the idea of horizon lines and vanishing point etc, to help you visualize the PROCESS.
The process, imo, is less important than the final image, so I "start" with that first, and correct it with the process.

This is the way the pros do perspective, and its falls into the KISS method line of thinking.
Don't fuss with minor details like windows and accoutrments early on-once you have the form, then correct it for perspective you can add those details later on--or even just eye-ball them in.

If your vanishing points are off the page--even off the drawing table--just find where the common sets of outside contours seem to gravitate towards and then establish some outer "bracket" radiating lines. Any perspective lines from those unseen vanishing points will fall within those outer radiating lines so you can half the space, define a radiating line, half again, and so-on to break down that space. This way there, so need to construct some half-assed Rube Golberg devise to get a 10 foot yardstick to a push-pin vanishing point on some chair a good distance from your drawing table.
Trust your eyeball in this. As long as you are approximate to where the vanishing points lie, then your perspective will be seen as correct.

If you want more goodies, I suggest a book like How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, which has a really good simple section on perspective. It even goes into how to define cylindrical forums and divide a perspective form into equal spaces.

Its not hard stuff to wrap your brain around, I think its usually taught wrong--at least to a point, and with some simple ground rules is actually easy to do.

And it'll probably take about 10 minutes for you to read and absorb this.......hence, another 10-minute perspective lesson to the masses.

Hope it helps.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Thanks Ken. I get what you mean, and I agree that it's over-stressed for the majority of its applications. I've got that Marvel book, actually, and intended to get into it once I was a bit better at drawing these boxes - but maybe it's just what I need at this point.

I was just thinking that, for all the "hard" areas of an animated form (skull, ribs, etc.), or even just to help me as I focus on gesture/life-drawing, I would pretty much have to be able to reduce things to perspective-boxes, to get heads or torsos looking proper. For example, in the "Drawing Force" book, the author stresses drawing in three-point perspective, to give the gestures a depth-rhythm. Seemed nifty to me, and rather like what was utilized in the animation of Tarzan in the Disney film of the same name. Hence getting the handle on forms in space seemed a necessary step. But in any case, I'll open up that Marvel book now, see what it's got to offer. Thanks!

I'll second the Marvel book for drawing shapes within boxes, at least in terms of introducing someone to the concept if that's what's going to work for them. I've found even with doodle-level complexity, if you give yourself a box to work within you tend to work properly within that box. Four or five weeks ago I remember doing a tiny drawing of a skull and I found intuition got me pretty far in terms of when to "turn" the surfaces once my mind had that little wire cage to reference.

Oh, and run with the experiments. More often than not they can be just as effective and just as useful of teachers as the deliberate and intentional crap. Just yesterday I was trying to loosen up, and make an abstracted animal shape, but I wanted to get out of the conventions of my hand movements I can tend to do that are too "stylized" and not very natural, and I literally just starting making marks randomly. To my surprise just 10 seconds in I saw the makings of a rhinoceros. Not very deliberate, and actually not on point, but it does show that you can see merit where you want to. Cool rhinoceros too =)