Perspective: What. The. Fudge?
Per·spec·tive /pǝr’spektiv/ noun A necessary evil for establishing the scene and your “camera” angle.
You know how they teach you about one, two, and three point perspective in class? Well, that is just the beginning. The world is not perfectly level. Not even houses have straight lines. The only things that have straight lines are metallic objects that have never been bent or dented. Straight lines are man-made things. You can have multiple perspectives in a single drawing. Did you know that? I didn’t. The moment objects are not parallel to each other, you have a different vanishing point. New vanishing points sprout like mushrooms after the rain. Don’t even get me started on curvilinear (four-point) perspective or multi-shot (five-point) perspective. How do you draw a curved staircase or a spiralling slide?
My class lost out on Layout in our second year at Sheridan College, so I went and took a Perspective course with my life-drawing teacher Brian Haladin (master of perspective, with a freakish ability to draw freehand straight lines as if they were drawn by a ruler). If you cannot take Brian Haladin’s class and are looking for a good perspective resource, I recommend Vanishing Point: Perspective for Comics from the Ground Up by Jason Cheeseman-Meyer. The artwork in this book may look clunky, but he is a master of perspective, too. I wish I could just Matrix his knowledge into my mind. Sadly, the only way to learn art is to observe, study and practice.
The above is the Canadian Amazon Listing for Cheeseman-Meyer’s book. Note: I am not an Amazon Affiliate.
🎨 You can also find a lot of videos on YouTube to help you learn perspective.
The great thing about Procreate is that it has Perspective Assistance.
You can access the Perspective Assistant in Procreate once you have a canvas open by: 1. tapping the Wrench Icon and choosing Canvas from the menu. 2. Slide the Drawing Guide button to the right. 3. Tap Edit Drawing Guide to access options, including Perspective.
The following is the perspective setup for the background of the Elatsoe illustration:
To create a perspective setup in Procreate, once you choose Edit Drawing Guide (See previous image.) from the available options below, you need to select Perspective. The Horizon Line is established by adding the first Vanishing Point. You can add up to 3 Vanishing Points, and you can choose to have different coloured lines for each point. I prefer to use black. You can also select the Opacity and Thickness of the perspective lines from the submenu. Note: It is recommended to have the third Vanishing Point be far out, in the middle of your Canvas and perpendicular to your Horizon Line.
However, even with the 3-point perspective established, that perspective only affects the far background. In Procreate I cannot have multiple perspectives at once — unless I destroy the primary setup to set up another perspective — so for the benches, I had to go old school. I established my Horizon Line (H.L.) and plopped down a one-point perspective vanishing point for the benches.
Then I resized the benches to better fit my thumbnail layout, making sure that all the lines still receded to the same vanishing point.
There is a trick to drawing lampposts receding into the distance (look it up), but the trouble with this illustration is that they do not recede in a straight line. The path they are on curves! WTF? The good news is that you can treat them as if they were receding in a straight line. Because when it comes to distance, the lamppost that follow the curved path and the one that follows the straight line are of the exact same size if they are at the same distance. So, the way to get away with this is to just figure out the distance between the lampposts, draw parallel horizontal lines, and thus move your lamppost where it needs to be.
In the above image the red guidelines show the size of the post at the distance. The blue guidelines show how you can move the post on a curved path.
How do I use perspective? Which one is more powerful one-point, two-point, three-point, four-point or five-point?
It all depends on the story you are trying to tell. I think two-point is probably the most stable and calm of all the perspective setups.
The above is an example of two-point perspective drawn by Circle Line Art School on YouTube.
I use one-point to focus on a particular element in the scene by placing that element on the vanishing point, therefore making sure all of the lines are pointing to, focusing on, that element. Another great way to use one-point is to make it appear as if you were flying over a city and looking down. It may look like 3-point perspective, but if your facing plane corners are at 90° angles, then that is a one-point perspective.
An example of one-point perspective looking down I found on Amazon.in by ArtZone.
Any tilting results in a three-point perspective. I use three-point when I want to show something is not quite right with the scene. The third point adds more depth, so if you want to keep your depth even, but still want to show that something in not quite right, this effect can be achieved by using one or two-point perspective and tilting your scene. Note: I’m using 3-point perspective for The Ghost of an Ancient Ocean.
I used four-point perspective in Animals In My Hair (© 2013 Mili Fay Art) to show more of the barbershop.
You can recognize four-point perspective because the horizontal lines tend to curve away from the Horizon Line.
This is curvilinear perspective and it mimics the appearance of a wide angle slightly fish-eye lens of the camera. It is also used to create infinite-shot layout — so a character appears to be walking on a circular street. This is what the Panorama setting on your phone creates.
I have yet to use five-point perspective. It is just too bizarre for film, but is often used by comicbook artists. It looks as if the scene is set in a glass sphere.
The above image is an example of five-point perspective drawn by Matheus Boga on DeviantArt.
Procreate has yet to add the assistance for curvilinear perspective, so if you wish to use it, you will just have to learn and apply it old-school.
Hello 3-point perspective I used for the far background:
Can you see how the 3rd vanishing point (that disappears above the picture plane and makes all the vertical lines angled) makes this scene look strange, a bit uncomfortable, and weird. Don’t you feel that you should straighten those verticals?
Well, angles, add drama.
As if the mix of one-point and three-point perspective is not dramatic enough, I crated a spiral to target the main character. Like a target — or better yet a vortex you are looking into. The character herself fits in the 3-point perspective box, but the character is not a box, her body is twisted and angled going into its own vanishing points. She is floating, so it does not matter if she breaks away from other perspectives in the scene as long as the size/depth is relative.
You can see that this drawing is a huge mess. Therefore, I decided to cleanup the background before adding in the characters.
H.O.O.T. of Wisdom
Perspective can be scary for some artists, because it is very structural. However, it is not as difficult to learn as it first appears. Learning perspective will give your artwork more depth and make the illustrations more three-dimensional. You can learn from the book I mention above, or you can search “How to draw” videos on Google and YouTube.