Perspective without buildings (characters only)



  • Thanks to @TessaW and @Lee-White, I am getting better at recognizing and understanding perspective by drawing through photos with buildings. I am still having trouble with how to portray depth when the illustration has no buildings.

    My constraints with this illustration are that it is a 5x7 vertical format greeting card. My intention is to portray the mistletoe couple as foreground, singers as not-quite middle ground, and mama helping pup put star on tree as middle ground, with sky & text as background.

    When I think of Jake’s use of multiple “Steve” characters in the Mastering Perspective videos, I have not been able to apply that concept here with my dogs. I don’t think he gave an example of placing them in perspective when “big steve” was below the horizon line and I have not been able to generalize from the other examples.

    If I think of the dogs’ body parts as cylinders, do I have the ellipses in the right position relative to the horizon line?

    The placement of the stand for the Charlie Brown tree bugs me—that’s because my perspective is off, right?

    What is the best way to figure out placement of characters so they are in the proper perspective and to portray some depth?0_1536962573396_49A3EAD6-B829-4315-B79A-17A775D2F02E.jpeg



  • When creating an image like this I find it useful to set up a ground plane grid (even if it gets erased from the final artwork).
    I chose the horizon line based on the way you drew the foreground colored dogs.

    Then it's simply a matter of scaling the middle ground carolers and the background tree decorators so that all dogs appear to be (roughly) the same size using the concept of foreshortened perspective. I haven't watched Jake's "Steve" video but I'm pretty sure it involves the principal that "Steve" is a standard height and that any object that is the same height will get proportionally smaller as it recedes toward a vanishing point on the horizon. So in this case I created a standard "dog" height. That told me how much smaller the carolers and the tree decorators should be in relation to the baseline dancers.

    0_1536965268828_dogXmas.jpg



  • For understanding how to play with perspective even more, I'd recommend analyzing some artwork to get some ideas of how other artists convey depth and place their characters within a scene. Olga Demidova might be a good person to analyze. https://www.behance.net/okolo

    David's suggestion is great, especially for a snow scene with minimal environmental indicators. He's using scaling and a tiny bit of overlapping. If you take his base and add even more clues, like larger and more spaced out snow details in the foreground, and smaller snow details as you go back, that will also push the depth.

    Additionally, there are also ways to keep the characters the same size, but separate them out by environmental clues to create depth. Olga Demidova has many examples of this in her work. Look how she creates depth by separating her characters by environmental elements. Pathways and sidewalks. Logs, vs grassy area. This method might not work for this particular piece, (unless you separated them out on different little hills?) but it's something to keep in mind for the future.

    0_1536966500596_5e136855-085b-4cfa-b7ba-750ba1bae612-image.png

    0_1536966564057_b5cb151c-549e-4bf8-a2d3-f860ade47840-image.png



  • @davidhohn that looks great, thank you for properly scaling the characters! I am very embarrassed to admit that I do not understand the process of how you arrived at this well enough to replicate it myself.

    1. How did you determine the horizon line? (I thought it was slightly above your line, and only thought that because of the “rule” “where the sky meets the ground”, i.e., where the snow slopes meet the sky). How did you know from looking at the foreground characters where the horizon line is?

    2. How did you set up the “ground plane grid”? I tried to use the Procreate perspective assist to see if I could recreate your ground plane (scren shot attached, not sure it’s readable) using your horizon line and I couldn’t match it, so I wondered if I am not putting the vanishing points in the right place or if a ground plane is not the same thing as a perspective grid.

    I apologize for asking such basic questions, but I know I will not progress beyond flat and boring images untiI I understand these concepts well enough to recognize how they are being used by those who know what they are doing and then ultimately apply them myself. Thanks in advance for your patience.
    0_1536987439029_F82B5D49-34F0-4963-9425-46DE3DB6A0D9.png



  • @bichonbistro Do not be embarrassed. Your questions and efforts are exactly what many go through to get a handle on perspective. I know I did.

    The great part is that you have gone a long way toward recreating the ground plane! That grid pattern looks really good to me! And I am not surprised that the procreate perspective tool didn't match my ground plane exactly. That would be because I basically eyeballed the ground plane. I imagined the horizon line and then imagined the left and right vanishing points quite far off the page. Then I drew a ground grid with orthogonals that converged on those two imagined vanishing points.

    I'm actually quite pleased that you took the time to do what you did here -- that is, actually extend the image to include the horizon line and the two vanishing points. I had to do this EVERY TIME when first learning perspective. After a while, like so many things in art, you have done it so often that step happens in your head.

    That's the thing about perspective -- you can "fudge" it quite a bit and no one will notice. So if you had placed the horizon line (HL) where you thought it should go (i.e. sightly about the HL that I chose) and then used that HL to scale the figures I'm sure it would look just fine.



  • @tessaw thanks for this reference—I was not familiar with her delightful work.
    So before I try to see if I can recognize all the ways she achieves depth in these, let’s see if I understand how to identify the more basic concept of horizon.

    In the first image, I apply the rule it’s where the sky meets the ground (sea).
    0_1536989297997_595E913F-269E-410C-83B6-B15D5E019A08.jpeg

    In the second image, I am just guessing because I can’t clearly see where the sky meets the ground. So, it looks like the raccoon’s eye is at eye level, and if I try to visualize the badger and hedgehog as cylinders, I can see the tops of the cylinders, so they are below eye level.
    0_1536989742802_BF6DDC4B-E9EA-4F2F-8DAD-6940BE7719B4.jpeg

    If I didn’t get the horizons right, can you tell me where they are and your thought process to properly identify the horizons? Thanks for all your help!



  • @bichonbistro I'm sure @TessaW will stop in to reply as well, but since I'm here and reading this thread I'll offer my two cents right now -- YEP! That's how I would go about determining the horizon lines for these two images. I'd put the HL in exactly that spot for the ocean image, while I think the HL you chose works just fine for the woods. Although I think you could also make a decent argument to move the HL slightly higher for that image. That particular image utilizes "overlap" and "atmospheric perspective" (value) rather than linear perspective to create the illusion of space.



  • @BichonBistro
    It's good to ask questions--we are here to learn! Reading the threads that others post--including yours--is helping me understand things better, too.



  • @davidhohn I had to look up “orthogonals” 😂, but pleased to read that I am on the right track and reassuring that you had to do this kind of work EVERY time when you were learning perspective.

    I have felt so dense about trying to grasp these concepts that I am taking a Coursera class called “Learning how to learn” because it feels so much like math to me and that course was created by a woman who hated math. I told my husband last night that I don’t understand why I am like a dog with a bone when it comes to problem-solving in EVERY area except art—I will not let go until it’s resolved. But in art, my tendency has always been to give up. So, I made a commitment almost a year ago that I will NOT give up this time, even if it takes me the rest of my life to get it. Thanks for the encouragement!



  • @miriam Thanks!



  • Patty, I understand your struggle very well! I started studying perspective in Jan 2014. I've had many breaks from art since then, but I think it took until mid 2017 to feel comfortable with it, and I'm still learning about it!

    When I first started studying perspective, I studied it intensely for a month. For a long time after that, I still constantly got it so so wrong, it was still so confusing to apply it to my work, and it took a very long time to plot things out. I wasn't producing a lot of work that involved perspective, so maybe if I did I would have grasped it sooner. It took more rounds of study, analyzing photographs, movie stills, and other artwork, applying it to my own pieces, and studying composition in books and classes to get semi comfortable with it. This was all spread out through years. I still have to figure things out, but I've gotten to the point where I know I can work through perspective problems and it's not super tedious anymore. (Usually, lol). If you keep applying it to your work, go back and do drills from time to time, try to recognize perspective in other artist's artwork, you will get there, probably faster than I did if you don't take extended breaks from art like me.



  • @tessaw it’s reassuring to hear you have struggled too, because you have clearly reached an enviable level of understanding! One of the interesting concepts in that “Learning how to learn” course is that sometimes it is best to move onto the next chapter even if you don’t yet have a solid understanding of what you think of as pre-requisite. “Spaced repetition” (deliberate breaks)instead of repeatedly beating your head against the wall to understand a concept has been demonstrated to be a more effective learning strategy according to the research quoted. So when I looked at the SVS course curriculum levels, I thought “boy did I get my sequence wrong”, but now I am thinking of it as a useful “looking ahead” that will help clarify & cement concepts that I am trying to learn as I go back to the basics in level 1. I am now more flexible about jumping back and forth between courses, as it sounds like that may actually enhance learning. Another recommended strategy is to consciously think of the most important points (in my case, from an SVS video chapter) right before you go to sleep.



  • @miriam for anybody who has struggled with BASICS of perspective like I have, this is a cool video that highlights the most important points in less than a minute. With my math phobia, I found the parallel (learned a new word from @davidhohn, orthogonal😊) line designations here more palatable than “X, Y,Z” (yikes, algebra😱):
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=ROlHybuf7cs



  • That's awesome that you're taking that course, I'll have to look into it. I very much believe in deliberate breaks too. I've found that I will usually notice a jump in improvement when I go back to studying a topic after a nice long break from it.



  • @bichonbistro Be assured that even though you are the one brave enough to ask the questions, there are plenty of us who are going to benefit from the answers! I for one am pretty clueless about this stuff!!