Sei sulla pagina 1di 202

Story Drawing Skills

HOW TO DRAW BACKGROUNDS WITH CHARACTER

by Betsy Luntao
Mentions of specific companies, organizations or creative individuals
within this digital book does not mean that those companies, organizations, or creative
individuals support, or agree with the methods and opinions expressed in this e-book.
They probably dont even know that I exist.

Licensed characters, artwork not owned or created by the author


(thats me, Betsy), are used under the American Fair Use trademark law. Said law, to my understanding
at the time this work was self-published, grants the limited use of no more than 10% of a large single work (such as a film or
book) or 5 single pieces from an artist for the use of non-profit*, educational* examples without the
written consent of the owner/creator.
(*This book is free and educational.)

However, I completely respect the wishes of my fellow artists.


If you are, or officially represent, the creator of a piece that appears in this e-book,
and you wish to have it removed, simply send me an e-mail identifying the piece, and page number on which the
work appears to betsyillustration@gmail.com. Ill remove it as fast as my mouse-button clicking finger can go.

Right about now, there would normally be a warning about not sharing or
distributing this book without written consent, but on the contrary, I want you to share this book!
Share it with anyone you think might be interested in it! Lets help each other gain the
skills needed to draw awesome stories so we can geek out over them!

If you want to know more about me, my mission to help people gain story drawing skills,
or want to check the availability of other stuff Ive made, youll find it at:

storydrawingskills.com

Copyright 2017 Betsy Luntao.


Dedicated to those with a story in their heart
that is still waiting to be drawn.

Thank you beta readers who graciously donated their time to send me feedback on this book:
Aaron Laura
Bronte Luca
Imerei Maggie
Jennifer Phoebe
Kathi Rosalie
Kre Sean
FOREWORD: Its Not easy, But its not impossible.
There is no denying that BGs fun! What I am going to share is While Im sure youre eager to get
(backgrounds) are not easy to how to take some of the mysteries, started, I do urge you to be patient.
draw. complexities, and boredom out of BG If you think youre going to finish
drawing. Im going to show you how to a super complex background in 2
Just the scale is intimidating. you can treat it more like character hours, or even 1 day, youre going to
BGs have to represent so much drawing, which will overall make it end up being really frustrated and
more space than the characters. less intimidating, understandable and disappointed.
Maybe thats why BGs take so (hopefully) more enjoyable.
darn long to finish! My first Its quite likely that itll take you a
semester in Art School came with To reach that goal, this book is split whole week to finish a BG, depending
one piece of advice: up into 3 stages: Stage 1 is the Story on how often you draw.
Dont take Perspective class until Starters section and includes how to
you can dedicate 30-40 hours to brainstorm story ideas. Im a firm Like I said, it wont be super easy,
the homework every week. Wow. believer that if you care about the but it will be super worth it when
Plus, lets be honest, if you learned place youre drawing, youll be much youll be drawing BGs suited to your
to draw characters first, BGs more enthusiastic about drawing it. stories and characters!
are unavoidably boring. Walls and Stage 2 is the Story Specifics section
objects just sitting there...lifeless. to help you design the personality
Ugh. of your background. In Stage 3, we
go for it and begin Story Drawing,
Im not going to lie and say showing you how to build a background
that this book contains tricks with as few apathetic, blank boxes or
or shortcuts to make BGs grids as I can.
miraculously easy, fast and
Table of Contents
Intro: Learn what you need- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1

STAGE 1: STORY STARTERS - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2


Taglines - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3
Thumbnail Composition Stuff - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 4
Thumbnail Proportions - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 7
Focal Points - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 8
Golden Rectangle vs. Rule of Thirds - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 1
FMB(DB) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 19
Reads - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 23
Sequential Story Angles- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 30
Single Moment Story Angles - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 37

STAGE 2: STORY SPECIFICS- - - - - - - - - - - - - 48


Spark and Scrap Boards - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 49
Betsys Boards - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 54
Plus it and Ratio- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 58
Cultural Shape Identity- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 61
If These Walls Could Talk- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 66
Proportion and Scale - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 75
Visual and Touchable Textures- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 79
STAGE 3: STORY DRAWING - - - - - - - - - - - - - 83
Grid Basics - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 84
Divide and Replicate - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 89
0 Point (Isometric) Grid- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 93
Horizon Line - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 120
Vanishing Point - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 123
1 Point Perspective - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 125
Line of Sight - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 136
When Vanishing Points Get Crazy- - - - - - - - - - - - - - 138
2 Point Vertical Perspective- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 142
Grids are Guides, not Rules- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 156
2 Point Horizontal Perspective- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 160
Center of Vision Line - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 171
3 Point Perspective- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 172

Perspective Drawing Gallery - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 185


Perspective is Subjective- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 190

So... Now what? - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 194


LEARN WHAT YOU NEED.
Drawing a random background my favorite songs. The next My point is this: dont try to learn
for the sake of learning day, I bought a cheap guitar and everything in this book for the
perspective, is much like looked up the 4 chords to Viva sake of learning perspective.
practicing a scale of musical La Vida by Coldplay. My weak Learn only what YOU need in order
notes over and over on a fingers produced shaky, uneven to draw what YOU want to draw
piano. Sure, it does help you, notes, but I wasnt discouraged, next.
but it can take some mighty because it was a song I liked,
disciplined willpower to stick to I was having fun, and each Over time, the things you want
it. Especially if its for a hobby properly played section of the to draw will naturally guide you to
which is supposed to be fun, not song got me closer to my goal your next learning challenge, and
mundane. of learning a whole song! Musical your skills will develop from the
scale practice never motivated practice of drawing what you like
I gave up at learning several me like that! Ever! to draw. Its the same way I
musical instruments for that wanted to learn a song that has
exact reason: I just couldnt A few months of playing by ear a chord I dont know yet, but I
get into reading sheet music, later, I made up some words to will learn the chord by practicing
or playing steadily with a go with 4 chords and wrote my the song I like. (Not the other way
metronome, or practicing first song. Soon after that, I around.)
musical scales for the sake of started performing at Open Mic
practice makes perfect. nights with my friends. No one Having an interest in what youre
could tell that I couldnt read drawing wont automatically make
About 5 years ago, I realized sheet music! I still dont have it easier to learn, but it will make
that I didnt want to be a strong enough fingers to play it easier not to give up!
master musician, I just wanted all the chords, but Im content, Happy Drawing! ^ u ^
to learn how to play a few of because its what I wanted. -Betsy
STAGE 1: STORY STARTERS
Some of us have a million stories to tell, some of us dont have
any, and some of us are somewhere in the middle.

Before you jump into BG drawing, we need to establish


some kind of story. So like I said on the previous page,
make it about something that you are interested in! If you
love Pokmon, make it about Pokmon. If you love traveling
circuses, make it about a traveling circus. If you love waffles,
make it about waffles.

(Mmmm, waffles...)

You have the freedom to draw whatever your heart desires,


so dont waste the opportunity concerning yourself with
getting better, or, will my followers/friends/parents like
it?, or following the steps in this book.

Draw for yourself. If you get stuck, or cant decide what to


draw check send me an email at: betsyillustration@gmail.com
and Ill make sure you get some help.
Story first: Taglines
#1 problem of most perspective Generic, empty rooms without any quite similar to a newspaper headline
practice is that it looks like practice. personality or character of there or article title.
own. No evidence Check out these examples:
of something that
happened or something ** Man bitten by radioactive spider
that might happen. Just gains superhuman abilities.
collections of apathetic (Spider-Man)
furniture.
** Maiden breaks a Beasts curse
The easiest way to with true love.
make your perspective ** (Beauty and the Beast)
practice not look like
perspective practice is ** Piloted giant robots defeat huge
to have a story. monsters. (Pacific Rim)

It doesnt need to be ** Greek youth enters inescapable


an 50,000 word tale of labyrinth to battle the Minotaur.
bravery and sacrifice, (Greek Mythology)
it just has to be one
sentence long. ** A man and woman fall in love
despite disliking one another at
Its called a tagline or first. (Oh my gosh, every Korean
log line and its actually drama, ever.)

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 3


Those are great, but still too big.
An artist needs to know about a
particular moment of the story
and answers to the questions: Who?
Where? and What is happening?
The taglines look more like this:
If you were going to draw any of
** Spider-Man shoots web at Doc Oc these, youd be practicing perspective,
in the Docs lab. but it would no longer look like practice
for practicings sake, because theres
** Belle reads to the Beast in the something happening! A story! Love it!
library.

** Gypsy Danger punches Kaiju at the


Try it!
bottom of the ocean.
Write out 3-5 interior setting
** Ariadne waits for Theseus to taglines that youd be interested in
return from the Labyrinth. drawing.

** [Insert favorite hate-turns-to- Then roll a dice, ask a friend, or


love moment here.] somehow find a way to choose just 1,
and use it for Stage 3 drawing demos.
Take a look at these shots on the
right. We might not know everything
Once you have your tagline decided, you have a choice: continue to the next page
about the story, but something is
for Thumbnails if you want to get to start sketching, or, go to page 49 for
definitely happening.
Spark Boards if you like gathering inspirational reference images.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 4
THUMBNAIL COMPOSITION STUFF
Since I cant talk about all of them coming up next.) If it doesnt matter
simultaneously, I tried my best to what the finished measurements
give them a logical order: are, thats cool, you can experiment
with lots of different shapes and
1. Border Proportions sizes. Alphonse Mucha utilized many
2. Focal Point different border shapes like thin
3. FMB (DB) rectangles, circles and crescents:
A thumbnail is a smaller version of
4. Reads
a larger image that in this case is
used for visual exploration. Its the
Again, thats not really the order
first test to see if all the things in
you have to follow, its just the order
your mind will work when its put on
Im going to introduce them so that
paper. Thats it. The end.
all of you will know what Im talking
about when I start saying stuff like
(All right, its not really the end. )
I need a stronger read on the FMB,
particularly near the focal point.
Thumbnails are used to design
pretty much anything from a potato
Border Proportions deal with the
peeler to an evening gown to a
technical aspect of making sure the
comic page layout. When planning
artwork fits a particular set of
out an illustration, there are a
finished measurements, like a
few things on my mind while Im
5100 x 3300 pixel image for uploading
thumbnail sketching which are equally
to a T-shirt site. (More about that
important.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 5
this book, the DB part isnt going to for having a personal style, or fresh
apply as much. More about FMB stuff view on a popular theme. The down-
on page 1 1. side to that is the audience might not
understand the story. (This doesnt
apply if you are creating solely for
your own enjoymentdraw whatever
makes you happy.)
Focal Point, the main event. The part
that completes the story. It can be Some people (me included), like to
vibrantly highlighted like the picture Reads refers to clarity. How easy is think things through. It makes our
above, or it can be subtle. it to locate the characters, identify work easy to understand, but we can
Page 8 has more about that. them and figure out what they are get trapped in the formula checklist,
doing? Sometimes we want it to be being so authentic that it harms the
easy, like in happy scenes. Other story, or not having anything in our
F times, we want it to be difficult, such work that memorably stands out
M as a mysterious figure in the shadows from the crowd.
B following the hero. Page 15 has more
details about Reads. The happy medium is being aware of
how the visual choices you make might
FMB(DB), which stands for Foreground, You are free to completely ignore affect how the story is understood by
Mid-ground and Background. (DB) these topics. Some people have strong others, but pretty much doing things
stands for Distant Background, like gut feelings which help them make the way you want to do them.
clouds or mountains and sky. Because their visual story choices. They are
were doing interior backgrounds in often the ones who are recognized
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 6
THUMBNAIL PROPORTIONS Beware!
Math ahead!

You may have the measurements thumbnail border shape, you need Or, even easier, if you have access
of your finished piece already to divide the height and the width to any sort of drawing program,
decided. Maybe youll be drawing on of the finished size by the same make a new canvas with your
a particular size of paper, or, your number. desired finished proportions. Next,
design will be featured on a poster make sure the option to maintain/
or book cover and you have to follow Example: 9 x 12 inch paper constrain proportions of the canvas
a template. In that case its best to is activated. Then, shrink it down to a
make your thumbnail proportional to 9 6 = 1 1/2 inches smaller thumbnail sketch size.
the actual finished dimensions. 12 6 = 2 inches

For instance, if youre going to draw Basically all thats happening is this:
the image on an 8 1/2 x 1 1 inch piece
of paper your thumbnail borders will Finished art size
Co
rn

be slightly different than if you were


er how
ss

drawing on A4 paper:
till big

Bingo, itll give you the exact inches (in


ma or

Proportions Proportions decimals so youll have to convert it,


tc s m a
hu

of U.S.A. of ISO ugh) or centimeters or whatever it is


p n ll
om

standard standard that you use. Im sure mental math is


a

8 1/2 x 1 1 inch 21.0 x 29.7cm a great way to keep your brain active
tte
r

Letter paper A4 paper and healthy, but, sometimes I just


want to draw and not spend precious
Thumbnail size
creative time figuring out dimensions.
To get a proportionally smaller
=_=;
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 7
Focal points
Thumbnails often include a Focal Point In each example, I only changed one Got 6 mermaid sisters? Have them
(FP).There are many, many ways thing. Check out how effective it is if all match their seashells with their
to create FPs and most of them fall I change more than one. fins and put their hair up while you
under the principle of Contrast. rock loose hair and mixed colors so
that you can stand out.
When something is different from Its like a visual magnet. Even if you
the rest, it makes that something try to look only at a square, you wont
stand out. Like so: be able to ignore the orange dot in
your peripheral vision.
or
Now imagine that those squares were
a crowd of people, but you wanted to
or make your main character stand out,
how could you do it?

Contrast.
or
Consider the main character of a
favorite movie or manga. What did
the stylists or artists do to make
or
the main character different from
the rest? Color, shapes, proportion,
lighting, staging, all these things come
We cant help but look at the one in to play, but lets look at color for a Otherwise... no. Just no. Thats
thing thats different. second: ridiculous.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 8
More ways to make Focal Points: Implied Lines & Familiarity
The Rule of Thirds (or Golden Ratio)
Explained more
on page 1 1.

(Only a tool, not


a rule! You dont
have to use it Implied lines means other things in
every time!) the picture are aligned in a way that
Sharpest Edges/Depth of Field
they point to a particular area.
Purposefully leaving most of the piece
Familiarity means we tend to look at
blurry or loose in painting terms, and
things that are most like us; namely
making one area sharp, or tight.
other humans. The woman is the only
one facing us, so we look at her.

Theres also
this great
Isolation Catwoman
The horse on the far right is in piece by Tim
isolation from the rest of the herd, Sale that uses
and draws our attention because of the same Most Value Contrast
its separation and clearer silhouette. principles. Just like a spotlight on a dark stage,
the light on the face with dark
shadows creates contrast.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 9
For the purposes of creating
character driven story images,
this book is always going to use the
character as the focal point, and I
would recommend that at least for
An artist
the first 4-5 drawings that you also
keep the character(s) as the focal
must have his
point. measuring
Because, honestly, the viewers are
going to look at the characters first
tools not in
anyway, so make your life easier and the hand, but
use that to your advantage.
in the eye.
-Michelangelo
(The Italian Renaissance artist that the
Turtle was named after.)

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 10


Golden Rectangle vs. Rule of Thirds
What are they and why do we care? named Pythagoras. (Same guy as the What is completely super cool is that
Pythagorian Theorum, a2 + b2 = c2 if you combine the green with the
Short answer is that they are for you math-lovers out there.) orange, the length will equal the red
two different formulated ways for Pythagorians met in secret to line. Ditto for the orange line plus the
creating pleasing positions for Focal talk about their red line equals the length of the blue.
Points. Compositions in photography, mathematical
film, comics, painting, concept art, discoveries back in
and illustration have all used these the day, so you had
=
formulas. For the long answer, keep to show the symbol
reading. of a pentagram to get in. (I didnt =
think a mathematics club would be so
The Golden Ratio is credited to exclusive!)
an ancient Greek mathematician The ratio of the top line (green) to
Pythagoras chose the pentagram the bottom line (orange) is called
because he was totally geeking out The Golden Ratio (or sometimes
(Pythagoras. over certain ratios found in the the Golden Section.) If you use the
Named his pentagram, specifically these lines: bottom line (orange) to make a
Fraternity of square and add the top line (green)
followers the to make it one big rectangle, you get
Pythagorians, a Golden Rectangle:
because he
was humble
like that.)

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 11


Whats awesome about the Golden
Rectangle is that by dividing the
smaller section (green) with another
square it can perfectly replicate the
ratio of the entire Golden Rectangle
all over again.
What was blowing Pythagoras mind,
is that the Golden Spiral, is found all
over the place in nature. Humans,
flowers, leopard spots, tree limbs, From this Golden Spiral, theres a grid
starfish, fruiteven hurricanes and that can be made called the Phi Grid.
galaxies! Just look! It looks like this:

This could continue on into infinity.

A mathematician in named it the


This ratio of diminishing shapes phi after Phidias, an ancient Greek
creates a spiral thats calledyou Sculptor who demonstrated the ratio
guessed itthe Golden Spiral. in his work. I bet you Pythagoras
wouldnt have been happy about that.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 12


In case youve never heard of the interesting, is that the Rule of Thirds
Rule of Thirds before, its a 9 unit grid as we know it today is not at all what
that divides a composition into thirds Mr. Smith wrote about.
vertically and horizontally.
Heres some of what he wrote:
The points where the vertical
and horizontal lines intersect are I have found the ratio of about
two thirds to one third, or of one
sometimes referred to as power to two, a much better and more
To use the Phi Grid, place the focal
points since they are successful harmonizing proportion, than the
point in one of the corner boxes, precise formal half, the too-far-
places to put the focal points of your
where the inner spiral would be. extending four-fifthsand, in
composition. Like so: short, than any other proportion
whatever.
So thats great, except when you
sit down in front of a blank piece of Basically all he said was: IMO, the 1/3
paper, how the heck are you going to composition is awesome sauce.
make a Phi grid?
Despite calling it the Rule of Thirds,
And so enters the The Rule of Thirds Smith often uses the words about,
which has a far more brief, and generally, and generally speaking in
yet very mysterious origin story his full writing on the subject.
when compared to Pythagoras and
So who made this thing up? The
the breathtaking partnership of He never mentioned a grid, nor the
first documentation was by a man
mathematical facts and beauty of all power points at the intersections.
named John Thomas Smith (Whoa...
creation found in the Golden spiral.
Pocahontas flashback). Whats

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 13


Personally, I dont think that
ints!
Power Po the Rule of Thirds, or the Golden
Spiral is entirely superior over
the other. Art in general defies
having any hard and fast rules
that should be used 100% of the
Wait, what? time, right? Thats why its art!
I didnt say
that...
But lets compare them anyway,
shall we?

Wait, theres not enough room on


this page... awkward...
Yet, present-day cameras,
To the next page!
Instagram, and just about every
viewfinder has a 9 unit gird slapped Stop doing this! ( o)
on it. Dont be a slave to the grid!

Sadly, the Rule of Thirds is of it, the Rule of Thirds is becoming


progressively becoming more of the so overused as a mechanical never
joke of the visual arts world, or the fail composition tool, that its losing
mark of an amateur. Like a really its original purpose of being a general
good song that gets so overplayed guide.
on the radio until everyone gets sick
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 14
Not that different, right? At least, I dont think so, but Im also going to assume Ill get some hate mail from
Pythagorians and/or Smithians for daring to say the two are equal.

Rule of Thirds Phi Grid based off Golden Spiral

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 15


Thirds

Phi grid in yellow, Thirds in teal. Another example of how nigh identical the two can be.

Phi

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 16


Both methods have their pros and
cons. In this book, I tend to use
the Rule of Thirds in my thumbnail
demonstrations, simply because its
more easily created than the phi John Thomas
grid. Just dont get obsessed over the Smith thought
power points when creating a FP. that Thirds were
the coolest thing
So instead of trying to prove which since sliced bread
is the one grid to rule them all, I and I doubt would let any haters stop
think more can be learned from the him from doing what he liked.
men who are credited to discovering/
promoting them. Be fearless and use whichever one
that you like the best, or, no grid at
Pythagoras LOVED all. Check out a few compositions from
the pentagram and artists who love formal, symmetrical
the mathematical compositions and
ratios that seemed dont give a hoot
to be interwoven about thirds or phi
into life itself and grids.
kept exploring what
he loved.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 17


Try it! Step 2: Draw a thumbnail that Step 4: If you have a third character
Focal Point Relay places the first character or object or object, repeat.
near the golden section. A princess
Step 1: If your tagline doesnt have A princess protecting a
2-3 subjects, create another one for protecting wounded dragon
this exercise. a wounded from a knight in
dragon from the forest.
Examples: a knight in the
forest.
** Red Hen serves bread to baby
chicks in the kitchen. Of course, you can also try the relay
with value contrast, isolation or any of
** Hero and/or Heroine riding Step 3: Draw another thumbnail, but the previously mentioned methods.
a motorcycle to chase down change the Focal Point character:
vandals on the city streets. A princess Thumbnails are meant for
protecting experimentation and exploration!
** Wizard dipping weapon into a a wounded
potion to fortify it with magic dragon from
protection inside a cottage. a knight in
the forest.
** Singer singing the big note in
front of cheering crowd at a
concert.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 18


FMB = Foreground, Mid-ground, Background
While youre sketching your One way to think about it is to limit
thumbnails, keep in mind the 3 yourself to only 2-3 colors. Like gray
distances: and black, or blue, and dark blue plus
the white of the paper.
** Foreground. The closest stuff to
the camera that gets cropped. It forces you
Often in silhouette or really dark to decide what
shapes. it is in the
foreground,
** Mid-ground. The sweet spot in mid-ground
between the Foreground and and background.
Background. Often this is where It also quickly
the important stuff often shows you the
happens. shape of each distances puzzle
piece or layer. Overlapping, uneven
** Background. The objects farther puzzle pieces look the best!
away than the mid-ground. For
interior, its the walls, floor and Check out these Indiana Jones
ceiling. pieces that took FMB(DB) to the next
level by layering even more shapes.
There is also Distant Background (Art by Matthew Reynolds. Thanks
(DB) which would be mountains, for tracking him down, Phoebe!)
clouds, and things very far away.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 19


Once you get used to seeing the
puzzle pieces of FMB layers, you can
start seeing them in finished works
too. Try it with these examples.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 20


Next, for the sake of education, Im If I were to do this piece again, I Lets say I wanted to draw Sailor
going to reveal some artwork I did would definitely add some foreground Jupiter at the beach building an epic
back in 2004. (The horrors!! \A/) elements. Something like this maybe: sand castle.

The idea was that this vegetarian I know its at the beach, so naturally
Not only do the bars and chains in
Minotaur guy was locked up cause the background is going to have some
the foreground help to divide up the
everybody figures that Minotaur eat ocean, seagulls, maybe a few beach
space, but they also very clearly
maidens umbrellas...
deliver the imprisonment theme of
and stuff. the image.
If I wanted
Right now, to put
If you want to include FMB, but
there something in
arent sure where to start, just start
are only the foreground,
like you would any drawing: story!
2 depth I just have to
layers: the think about
character and the background. what else could
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 21
have happened or will happen in this Not bad, right? I mean, dont get better without the foreground.
story. me wrong, you dont HAVE to have
FMB(DB) in every single drawing you If you find yourself with an
Maybe Jupiter was using some sand ever do. The point is to just be aware illustration idea that seems to have a
toys to build her castle. Or, maybe that what youre doing is out of choice weird empty space on the edges, ask
theres a little crab walking by. and not neglect. yourself if you need some foreground
Maybe shell play with a beach ball elements.
next. Maybe Luna the cat is napping For instance, lets say Im using the
under a straw beach hat. image for invitation to a sand castle If the answer is, No, try out some
building party. (What? You want to tell different composition designs to edit
Once I pick some things from the me theres not such thing as a sand out that unwanted negative space:
storys possibilities, I just overlap castle building party? Well, no wonder
them on top of, or surrounding the you didnt get the invitation. :P )
main point of the story:
On the front of the card, on the
bottom, I want it to say, Youre
Invited!! It would probably work

Before Editing After Editing

Youre Invited!! Youre Invited!!

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 22


Reads
A question that youll hear a lot in photography. Whether its done for As funny as those photos are,
concept art and visual development is a laugh or by accident, a photo that a weak read in a story-based
Does it read? doesnt have a good read makes you piece (like a comic book, video
They arent talking about reading try to figure out whats going on. game, animation, film or narrative
words, but they are talking about illustration) can easily cause a viewer
how easily your eye and brain can (Often with humourous results.) to become confused. They have to
figure out the information in the pull themselves out of the story to
picture. Its not that different figure out whats going on and it isnt
from reading a sentence and as great of an entertainment or
understanding its meaning. learning experience as it could be.

If its a strong read, it means


everything is clear and easy to
understand visually.

A weak read is when you arent


sure of what youre seeing, or your
eye gets distracted by something
else in the picture that really isnt One of the leading causes of weak
important. reads are tangents.

(Theres a super great blog post about tangents


A weak read isnt necessarily called, Those Pesky Tangents found at
artofvisualthinking.blogspot.com/2012/10/
a bad thing. Especially in trick those-pesky-tangents.html)

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 23


Thats when
everybody
starts judging
you and
your visual
storytelling
skills.

Many concept artists start with


small silhouette thumbnails is for the
very same reason of making sure
that each design is identifiable even
with the least amount of information
possible.

Grouping your lights and darks


helps with reads as well. In this
Puss in Boots piece, the foreground
characters are dark against a beam
of sunlight and the Queen character is
light against dark.

Strong reads show everything you Im as much of a Sailor Moon fan as


need to know clearly. Next page has a the next girl, but Im not going to lie,
bunch of great examples! big hair doesnt help the reads.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 24
Check out how color contrast,
position, and FMB, create really
strong reads in these pieces.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 25


There are two important reads to The entry point is the doctors face. isnt the message or focus of the
be aware of in your composition: One It has the highest value contrast illustration, its more like the question
is the Entry Point, also called the First of dark books surrounding his lighter of the piece Who is this doctor
Read, the other is the Focal Point, head. There are also many implied examining?
which was covered on page 8. lines (arrows) guiding our eyes back
to the doctor. We travel down the doctors hands to
The entry point, as it implies, is the see that he is pretending to perform
place where the viewer looks first. a physical check up on a doll being held
The focal point has the most by a concerned little girl.
important information in the piece.
Norman Rockwell is a master at this:

Now the story is complete: The


doctor is pretending to check up on
the little girls doll. Cant you just
His face is pointed towards the imagine the dialogue that must have
viewer (familiarity), is in isolation been said before this moment?
from the other faces, and is near
Doctor, could you check if
a golden section just like a Focal
my doll is sick?
Point would be, but the doctors face
Hmm, let me see here...
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 26
Without the doll, theres no story: More examples of Entry Points and
Focal Points:
Nope.
No story
here.

Without the doctors play-along


expression, the doll being medically
checked just seems a little strange:
First Read = A smoking gun! Who was
Weirdo. shot?!
Second Read/Focal point = A police First Read = Dude with his sword
officer was shot! OMG! ready to take someone down, but
Third Read = A woman outside saw who?
the whole thing, shes probably going Second Read/Focal Point = The
to get shot next! dudette on the balcony. Oh my gosh,
First Read = Guy what if they were engaged, but now
The doctor, doll and little girl are all stuffing his face. theyre enemies?! Oh, the drama!
needed to tell the whole story, and
the composition visually tells you to Second Read/
look at the doctor first, then the doll, Focal Point = Girl
and lastly, the girl. freaking out about
it.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 27
Another typical use of two focal
points is the situation of a character
looking at particular location:

In this short animated film by draw our attention, and then lead to
Pixar, the setting is a magicians the picture of the magician again.
dressing room, the main character This all happens in under one second.
rabbit in his cage, and the rabbits Yet, if the carrot was pointed in the
desirethe carrot are introduced other direction, it interrupts the flow
in one shot. (Do not attempt this at and visually cuts the image in half.
home.) Whats tricky with multiple
focal points is to make sure each one
is seen. For that, a path for eye
movement needs to be designed.
Different devices are used to bring
attention to each one. The poster of
the magician has the most contrast
and is the highest thing in the shot.
Theres a spotlight on the carrot, but
the carrot generally points to the
Both the character and the location
rabbit which dominates most of the
have elements that make us want to
space. The words on the poster also
look at them.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 28
Lets finish off this section by looking
at more examples! How many reads/
focal points stand out to you? Is
there a visual path for your eye to
move around the image?

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 29


Sequential Story Angles
While sketching out your own Instead of trying to decide the ** Fact/Action
thumbnails, theres probably a lot perspective first, think of the story The actions needed to progress
going on in your mind. first. Whats happening in the scene? the story.
Gravity
Its sometimes called a story beat. Example: A tramp buys a flower.
Something that need to happen in
2 point perspective? order for the story to progress.
3 point perspective?
Looking up? Looking down? When including a story beat in film
Close up? Full shot? or comics, theres a reason behind it.
What about staging and The reason generally falls into one of
composition? these four categories:
** Emotion
(Are my drawing
To understand the characters
skills even good enough to ** Location
thoughts and feelings.
make the angle I see To understand the environment.
Ex: The grateful vendor tries to
in my mind?!) Example: A busy street corner in
locate the customer by touch and
a big city.
the tramp realizes the flower
vendor is blind.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 30


** Symbolism/Theme Lets say Im drawing my own comic, From an emotional view, wed have to
Reoccurring objects and/or colors and theres a part in a story where get closer to be able to see that the
to represent an idea. a peaceful pirate is forced to take his pirate doesnt really want to hurt his
Example: A single flower captain hostage. captain, and the captain knew about
symbolizes the theme of it all along, so hes got a backup plan.
unconditional love between the What we wouldnt know is where
tramp and the flower vendor exactly this is taking place.
throughout this film.

Fact/Action

From a Fact or Action set-up, we see


whats happening, but not necessarily
what the characters are feeling. Location
Visual stories use these four things
In the dark belly of a pirate ship
to follow the cast through a series of
with no escape is felt from a location
events in a variety of locations that
shot. (Suspense and thriller films
will probably change the characters
go to great lengths to immerse
in some way, and will present an
the viewer in the surroundings of a
overall idea, theme, or message to
haunted house, or the thought that
the viewer that is applicable to life in
aliens are hiding in a corn field.)
general... but, how to apply it?
Emotion
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 31
Its like saying Is Tokyo or Paris the
right answer? Sorry,
Captain.
Well, which countrys capital city are I have no
you trying to name? choice.

?
Symbolic ?
Sorry,
Symbolic shots are tricky because
Captain.
depending on the theme or symbolism
I have no
youve set up in your story, these
choice.
types of shots will greatly differ. Likewise: Is an emotion shot or a
In this case of being seemingly at the location shot the right answer?
brink of death, a symbolic shot might Impossible to say until the goal is
focus on a cat cornering a mouse to known. If my goal was to show the remorse
mirror the situation of the pirates. of the pirate, Id choose the emotion
Lets take a look at those pirate shots shot that shows it.
So which one is right for my comic? again with a line of dialog.
Honestly, at this point there is no If my goal was to make the audience
right answer because I havent Sorry, think that the captain was actually
defined what I want my audience to Captain. taken hostage, Id probably use the
experience. I have no location shot that hides most of the
choice. details of the action and emotion.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 32


The next few examples are going Start here!
1. By starting with the exterior
to be based off the same scene 2. FACT 1. STORY BEAT:LOCATION of the location, a lot of info is
from the Fullmetal Alchemist
missing for the reader.
manga by Hiromu Arakawa.
Who is speaking? What are
(Please dont expect me to draw
they speaking about? This kind
exactly like she does... Youve seen
of anticipation to find out what
how I sketch. It isnt pretty... )
happens next can be both
_
thrilling or irritating depending
(Psst! Read from right to left) on how often its used.

3. By showing the interior location 2. In this case, the very next


and characters in the scene, we panel reveals what the dialogue
get a sense of position. This would refers to: a puppy!
be important for an upcoming
action scene, but its not necessary
3. LOCATION
for a dialogue scene when we want
to know about expressions.
4. By using an action of picking
5. When you have characters who up the puppy with the dialogue
dont show emotion openly, like Jean Im so sorry! it makes the
Havoc (guy with the cigarette. Dont shot overly dramatic, and jars
smoke, kids!) they usually dont the flow of the story which is
require emotion shots to deliver primarily casual dialogue.
5. EMOTION 4. ACTION
their lines.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 33
Example #2
2. EMOTION 1. STORY BEAT:FACT 1. By starting with the factual
2. Officer Farman in an
shot of the officers on the
emotional shot. Like Jean Havoc,
right and the puppy on the
this character doesnt have many
left, the visual idea that is
expressions, so to use a emotion
being pointed out as the most
shot on just him is a bit of a moot
important is that the puppy is
point.
small, but that doesnt actually
have anything to do with the
3. To see the puppy in this shot
story.
feels a little pointless... what
new information are we getting
visually? None really...
4. When we introduce a new
character into the scene, we
3. FACT generally want to know what
they look like with an emotion/
close up shot, but this shot is
5. Ending on a location is tricky. giving us the opposite, where we
Are they currently inside this cant see his expression, and
building? Or, is this the dorm the others are so far away, we
Sergeant Fury was talking about? cant read their expressions
either, so... its just a boring
4. FACT fact that theyre standing and
5. LOCATION
talking.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 34


And finally, heres how Arakawa did it!
2. Uh-oh, Hawkeye is obviously 2. EMOTION, FACT 1. STORY BEAT: FACT 1. By starting with the topic of
not happy. Supporting the side story, Arakawa sets
characters are also shown in the tone of the story right
the background. away. No explosions this week,
readers, its puppy time!

3. A lot of dialog, with a well-


planned profile emotion shot
that uses less visible space than
seeing the faces from front
views.
4. This shot is the perfect
3. EMOTION example of show, dont tell.
We can see that Sgt. Fury
5. At this point weve seen a lot is returning from gathering
of faces, and both characters puppy care supplies so no one
body language/actions are has to say Sgt. Fury! Where
communicating much more have you been? We can also
about the protection and idle see his expression as he tries
curiosity of the puppy than facial to avoid getting in trouble with
expressions would. 4. EMOTION, ACTION
5. ACTION, LOCATION his superior officers.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 35
Interesting, isnt it? The same dialog, same actions, same characters, but different feelings based on the angles
chosen. Side by side like this, its easy to see how much better Arakawas version is since she chose angles based on the
story.

Theres more to story angles than just story beats though! Next section has handy info on directional design, camera
tilts, and frame dominance!

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 36


Single MOMENT Story ANGLES
If youre only doing a single Direction Design is a good starting point. All compositions can be generalized
illustration, photograph, or painting, into just 3 variations (or 4 depending on how you like to count the diagonal
youre limited to a single moment. ones): horizontal, vertical and diagonal.
Without the luxury of running time,
dialogue or sequential images to set up
symbolism and character arcs, how Horizontal gives off a feeling
do you choose which angle to use? of stability, peace, isolation, or
stillness/death.
In paintings, the most widely used
tool for conveying a certain emotion
or feeling is based in the psychology
of visual composition. Vertical gives a feeling of order,
structure, or a little bit of
Gadzooks! More long, boring words! danger from its application to
So frustrated Im going to flip this heights and gravity.
drawing table!
(A)
Diagonal gives the feeling
Calmness, my art bro, its easier than of danger, speed/urgency,
it sounds. instability, or challenge.
(~ u)~

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 37


Take a look at this set of snowy mountains all using different direction design. Vertical

Diagonal Horizontal

The diagonal one is full of danger and excitement. The horizontal one is totally chill. The vertical one seems a little
mysterious maybe, but not really threatening. Some might argue that its the characters setting the tone of the shot,
not the directional design. So check this out:

The stone
guy in the
horizontal
example feels
a bit more
ominous when The mystery of the vertical one is all
set at a gone if we change it to horizontal.
The battle isnt nearly as thrilling
diagonal.
when vertical and on stable ground.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 38
By the way, this Direction Design In this first example, were looking side characters getting progressively
doesnt have anything to do with up at the waterfalls. In the second smaller.
camera tiltlike looking up or looking example were looking down on the
downonly the 2D directional lines or city, but the directional composition
implied lines that come from the 2D lines in orange are still vertical for
elements of a composition. Blah blah both pieces.
blah, look at these visual examples
instead: There is a different reason for
choosing a Camera Tilt: When we Looking down has the opposite
look up at something, we feel small. effect. The viewer is in a superior
Its why Superheroes, and other position looking down on them, again,
admirable icons are typically staged in both literally and figuratively on the
the heroic up shot. We are literally characters.
and figuratively looking up to them.
The same Power Rangers that
#1 looked like they could take down the
intergalactic bad guys before, dont
look so confident when we look down
Dont worry,
we got this! on them.

Movie posters also fake the up shot


Were
by arranging the character pictures
doomed!
#2 to mimic an up shot with the middle
person being the highest, and the
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 39
the swimmer is Wow, thats a lot to think about, for
what makes him story angles, right? Lets recap!
feel like such a
SMILE!! But...
big threat and Story Beats: Location (the where),
Were wearing
helmets.
scary to boot! action (the what happened), emotion
(the character/s), symbolic (the
Tremors used message)
(Theyre rather blah straight on too.)
the same idea
Direction Design: horizontal (calm),
Im going to throw one last concept for their giant
vertical (slightly dynamic), diagonal
at you: Frame Dominance. monster worms.
(most dynamic)
Its in regard to how much a subject
fills the frame, or composition. When Frodo is near Mount Doom and Camera Tilt: Up shot (character is
encounters Shelob the spider, its in up generally powerful looking) or down
Classic example is the poster for shot: shot (character is generally weak
Jaws. looking)
Frame Dominance: the subject that
Having the takes up the most space seems the
shark at most powerful.
a vertical
Normally a shot that would make As you saw with the Frodo example,
direction isnt all
Frodo look heroic. Yet, since its in a if you have two or more things
that dynamic,
diagonal design (Danger!) and Shelob supporting one idea, it can override
but the sheer
dominates more of the frame than the odd one out that supports a
size of him
Frodo does, he seems weak. different idea.
compared to
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 40
For instance, if you have horizontal a giant robot running full speed. and still make them seem powerful,
design, but theres a huge character The action and frame dominance you can do it! You just have to choose
dominating the frame and doing a overrides the serenity of the two other things that equate
high energy action, the horizontal horizontal design. power. Like, diagonal design + frame
design wont feel as calm and relaxed dominance.
anymore. Thats exactly what This 2 overrides 1 principle is what
happens in one of the sequences in saves us from being locked in to Or, frame dominance + power poses
Evangelion 2.22, pictured below. choosing the same types of shots like this one:
The directional design is horizontal every single time and lets us develop
with the fairly flat mountain range, a composition style of our own.
level city buildings and straight on
camera angle. Normally, that would For instance, if you want to use a
be very calm, except that we have down shot on your hero characters

Now that your brain is soaking in all of


this story angle knowledge, lets look
at more examples and analyze the
choices made by the artist.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 41


Story Beat: location, emotion
Direction Design: neutral (it has an
Story Beat: action equal amount of both vertical and
Story Beat: location, action Direction Design: vertical horizontal elements)
Direction Design: diagonal Camera Tilt: up shot Camera Tilt: down shot
Camera Tilt: down shot Frame Dominance: character Frame Dominance: environment
Frame Dominance: environment
The character is preparing to battle, The open space, looking down, and
A down shot should make him weak, and is dominating the frame which lack of strong direction design makes
but because of the diagonal designs, both support the feeling of power. it feel quiet. All of that quietness lets
and actions of summoning his The camera tilting up also gives the the subtle emotional tension between
powers, the character seems more feeling of power. the characters body language shine
mysterious and mystical. the brightest in the piece.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 42
Story Beat: action, location
Direction: horizontal (Lots of vertical figures, but they all line up horizontally)
Camera Tilt: up shot
Story Beat: action, location Frame Dominance: characters
Direction Design: diagonal
Camera Tilt: none If we analyze the choices of up shot, and characters dominating the frame,
Frame Dominance: characters it should feel like the hero archers are unstoppable. However, instead of
seeing their determined faces, we only see their backs and their approaching
The diagonal design adds just enough enemies which puts kind of a downer on it. Despite the warships being small
tension that it feels as though a in the frame, theres a lot of them. The odds seem to be pretty bad for
monster will pop out at any second! the archers, but since they are ready to fight, it feels like some or all of the
heroes may be defeated in the upcoming battle! (Oh no! oAo )
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 43
Story Beat: action
Direction Design: horizontal
Camera Tilt: none
Frame Dominance: environment

Story Beat: action, location This image captures the feeling of


Direction Design: diagonal summer vacation and freedom by
Camera Tilt: up shot using a low horizon line so that we see
Frame Dominance: monsters Story Beat: action only a little bit of grass and a LOT of
Direction Design: diagonal sky. The kids running arent enough
The heroes are small in the frame, Camera Tilt: down shot to overpower all the calm and peace
overpowered by the monsters Frame Dominance: characters that surrounds and supports them. Do
surrounding them. A dangerous you think they are returning home or
situation using a diagonal design to Despite it being a down shot, Hulk still going somewhere? Reading direction
show that. The up shot of the main seems plenty powerful by being the has a strong influence over this. Left
monster makes him feel the most dominating shape and having the most to right readers like English) may feel
powerful. So exciting! extreme emotion. The diagonal adds like they are returning. Right to left
the danger and high energy. (like Japanese) will feel theyre going.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 44
Lets try one from scratch with A tiny bit better, the hero looks a
a generic scenario of warrior vs. little more ready to fight. Diagonal
monster. The most basic set up would the other way and the monster looks
be horizontal, no camera tilt, neutral like he has the upper hand.
everything.

Over the monsters shoulder well get


a down shot of the warrior looking
small and weak.

If we put the camera behind the


Look like plastic action figures, dont hero from this angle well get this:
they? Diagonal direction design adds
intensity so lets do that.

The hero seems to have a fighting


chance with the diagonal direction on
Eep! Scary! A great up shot if you his side and the up shot making him
want the monster to look super look more heroic.
strong and terrifying!
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 45
If you really want the hero to look Its common in Japanese visual
like hes at a disadvantage, you can storytelling to show strength through
also use the monster as a foreground lack of motion rather than large
element to completely trap the combative motion.
hero. Like so.
Try it now and then.

Looking down on both of them has a


bit of a security camera feeling.

Whoever is higher in the frame


seems to have a little bit of an
advantage though. If you want to see both the entire
action, youll likely have to go back to
Compare to when the monster is Hopefully the examples of story
the very first set up, but will have to
higher up in the composition: beats, direction design, camera tilt
make the action poses and camera
and frame domination have taken
tilt support the high energy moment.
away some of the random guess work
as to what kind of angle you should
choose for a particular illustration.

I highly recommend that you try


rewatching some of your favorite
anime episodes, movies, or reread a

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 46


favorite comic or manga.

Look at them with an analytic eye


and observe how artists that you
admire either follow or break the
Drawing is
things that weve studied in this
section.
not what
If I failed to explain everything
one sees, but
clearly and youre still confused, no
worries, just shoot me an e-mail with
what one
your question or the part that you
dont understand, and Ill make sure
can make
you get some help.
others see.
-Edgar Degas
(Hes most well-known for his ballet paintings
and sculpture.)

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 47


STAGE 2: STORY SPECIFICS
After youve gotten your story and thumbnails chosen, we need to
go a bit further into the specifics of what things should look like.
Otherwise known as design. Design is a huge, fascinating industry
on its own. Fashion design, graphic design, industrial design,
character design, creature design, prop design, automotive design,
and on, and on, and on.

So, why isnt this section called Stage 2: Design? You might be
wondering. (Or not, but Im going to tell you anyway.) The reason
its called Story Specifics is because I want you to hang on tight
to your story while you make your decisions about design and style.

Should the chair be simple or fancy? Should the floor be hardwood


or carpet? Should the windows be round or square? These
kinds of choices should have answers related to the story and
characters: A big comfy chair because he loves reading his books.
A luxurious carpet because shes a princess. Small, round windows
because they let in less sunlight that could damage the potions.

Done. So easy because the story and characters practically make


the decisions for you.
SPARK & SCRAP BOARDS
A Spark Board is a collection of What do you put on a Spark Board?
visual or audible stimuli which act as Anything that gives you an idea! A 1954
a catalyst for a specific creative Maybe its a piece of song lyric, a Kurosawa film
expression. quote, fashion/costumes, specific about seven
architecture, a still frame from a samurai,
In other words, its a bunch of stuff movie, an actor/actress, someone inspired a
that gives you inspiration, motivation elses art anything that makes you Sturges
and direction for making other stuff. think about a particular illustration 1960 film
idea or story project. about seven
cowboys,
Early on, Elsas design for Frozen Some might call it a Mood Board, but which inspired
was inspired by Amy Winehouses I prefer the word spark and how a Fuqua 2016
deep, soulful voice. it perfectly describes how 99% of film remake
( She kept telling me to build a the time Im doing a mundane (yet of Sturges
snowman, so I Let It Go, Go, Go! ) necessary) thing when I suddenly film.
see or hear something that sparks
an idea. I cant just quit my current
task, but I dont want to lose that images/links to songs or videos from
spark of an idea, so I save it on a anywhere on the internet and make
Spark Board. as many boards as you want.

I looooove using Pinterest.com for


my Spark Boards, since you can pin

49
The other is a Scrap Board. For example, artist, Iain McCaig, and
A collection of factual, historical, and Costume Designer, Trisha Biggar,
explanatory images. looked at traditional hairstyles,
cosmetics, and garments from many
I urge you to look at sources that cultures to create looks for Queen
were created at least 20 years Amidala in the Star Wars prequels: Lipstick from the
before you were born and/or not Qing Dynasty.
made in your native country.

If we all take inspiration from what


weve grown up with, were all going to
end up with the same sources. Boring!
Hopi Tribe

The Spark,
for what
would be 7 novels Russian
following Harry
Potter, happened Before you start accusing Star Wars
when author, of design theft or call them lazy
J.K. Rowling, was Mongolian hacks, read Steal Like An Artist.
delayed on a
train in 1990. She spent the next 5 (Ill probably say that like 20 times in
years cultivating that spark. this book.)
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 50
Getting back to my example, if I loved Queen Amidalas Heres some of what I found from image searching
costumes so much that they inspired me to make my own Mongolian garments:
character, of course, Ill use photos of Amidalas costumes
on my Spark Board. However, if I use her for my Scrap
Board, Im really limited with McCaig/Biggars simplified
version of the Mongolian influence:

Symmetrical
arch motif

Applique Strong More colors!


vertical More shapes!
rose-like
More bead work!
decoration lines
More textures!
More patterns!
Not good for More inspiration!
Scrap Board
Only 6
Warm color things to
palette apply to a
new design
while trying
not to rip
Heavy
off McCaig
texture
& Biggar. Great for
Scrap Board
Asymmetrical
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 51
small handful of people (like far and wide in this big ol world of
Tarantino) actually follow ours!
through to feed that spark
and let it burn long and hot Now that youre all pumped to start
enough to make something. Spark & Scrap Boarding, a warning:
The rest of us let the sparks You are not actually working on a
stay in the confines of our project when youre gathering your
minds, not that different sparks or reference images. You are
from a candle flame in a preparing to work on your project.
bottle that eventually burns
While I was doing research on the out if it doesnt get some air. Mind yourself so that you dont spend
subject of inspiration, I found out all day collecting images and end up
that Quentin Tarentino is the most Like Tarantino not limiting his drawing nothing. Not that Ive ever
commonly named influence for inspiration to other films, your art done that... *nervous whistle* 9.9;
filming style. (Even more than Alfred will be much richer and more creative
Hitchcock!) if you explore outside of your chosen Looks like these two could be
craft. Expose yourself to a variety of from the same anime, but they
Naturally, I wanted to know, Where different arts, cultures, and sciences. arent. They need some spark.
does Tarantino get his inspiration for
film style? According to Wikipedia, Anime artists that ONLY study other
he says his creative spark comes anime artists are going to be stuck in
from music! He imagines the the limited world of anime art. The
cinematography while listening to intention is usually to be authentic
music. Im sure many people do that but it gets generic very quickly.
while listening to music, but only a Dont limit yourself! Discover sparks
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 52
Step 2: Step 3:
Try it! Gather 30 images that relate to your Sort your images into inspirational
(Sparks) and visual reference
prompt by using a search engine, or
Step 1: Pinterest.com. Dont worry about (Scraps). Sparks
Choose one of the prompts below or sorting them into Sparks or Scraps,
make your own: just gather them all in one place first.

** Pizza Delivery Ninja Example: Robot Librarian


** Angel Taxi Driver
** Monster Teacher
** Zombie Cowboy
** Vampire Principal

** Dragon Tamer School Scraps


** Theme Park for Cats
** Tooth Fairy Dental Office
** Space Diner

By the way, 10-30 images are By separating out the images, its
usually the best. Less than 10 easier to tell that my robot is going
doesnt give a clear enough to look more like the ones Scrap
idea. Over 30 and youll have so board, but it will have the inspiration/
many ideas that youll lose the personality of the images in the
focus. Spark board.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 53
Betsys demo spark board
Woodland. fantasy.

Anthropomorphic
skunk. Brews and
sells medicinal
potions.
lives in a tree.

54
Betsys Character from spark board

Corso

Nothing visually
copied from
my Spark Board,
but I was inspired
to make this character
from that Spark Board.
55
Betsys scrap board

56
Props created from scrap board

57
Plus it & ratio
As you saw from my Scrap Board, I was to retell Treasure Island, a are based in the past and 30% in
dont just straight up copy an item traditional tale of sea pirates and sci-fantasy future. They chose
from one of my references. I try buried treasure, in the setting of this ratio because they wanted the
to find two or more that I like and outer space. But how much of the audience to feel familiar with the
combine them into something new. design should be traditional pirate image of a pirate ship, and only when
The process is sometimes called and how much should be science- looking closer would they reveal solar
Plussing or, Plus it. fantasy? sails or rockets.

However, you dont want to take


50% of this and 50% of that and
end up with an equal mix of the two.
Thats almost as bad as straight up
copying.
Directors John Musker and Ron
When you combine two or more Clements suggested the 70/30
things, its better to do one of the approach for the art direction. 70%
things at least of the inspiration for sets and props
60% for stronger Another take on this same space
direction. pirate combo is Space Pirate Captain
Harlock. His ship looks nothing like a
For instance, in traditional pirate ship aside from the
Disneys Treasure skull and crossbones motif. You could
Planet, the goal probably say Harlock designs are 70%
sci-fantasy and 30% pirate.
58
Ive been incredibly
impressed with the designs
in the video game, Splatoon,
which has 60% Urban culture
plus 30% squid/oceanic theme
plus 10% traditional Japanese
culture icons for a basic
shooter game. They stick
to their inspirations so well!
Every single design is mostly
Urban, some ocean, and
sometimes a little Japanese.
Mad respect, yo!

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 59


More examples!

Samurai + Hip Hop Culture

Turtles + Ninjas + Mutant + Teenage

Martial Arts + Elemental Magic


Super villain + Clown
Wizards/Witches + Boarding School

Take moment to think about the


sources of some of your favorite
movies, TV shows, or video games.
Which one is the main influence
(60% or more) and which one(s)
are plussing it?
Death + Matrimony Warrior + Princess
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 60
CULTURAL Shape Identity
Each culture has its own
characteristics and standards
for language, fashion, food, beauty,
measurement of wealth, among many
other things.

As artists and illustrators, we


tend to default to our own cultures Thrones in Narnia. Chinese throne in Mulan.
standards. It wasnt until I started
watching more Eastern films that I
realized something rather interesting
about thrones, one of the oldest
symbols of power and wealth in the
history of humanity. Back of the throne in Gondor.
Lord of the Rings.
In most Western hemisphere style Mongolian throne in Marco Polo.
Yet, in Eastern style throne rooms,
throne rooms, the throne is very tall:
the thrones are typically very wide:

Thrones in Sleeping Beauty. Korean throne from Damo.


Indian throne in Jodhaa Akbar.
61
When you are creating your own Underground, chiseled angles are for Because of this shape identity, when
fictional cultures, it will add a lot of Dwarves. we see a blade like this:
believability if you set up the shape
identity for different cultures.

For instance, in The Lord of the Rings,


we quickly associate garden greenery
and roundness with Hobbits. We already know that the Hobbit
Rustic peaked roofs and horse themes
culture did not make it.
with the human horse-masters of
Rohan. We did not make
that.
Below are some
items that have
simple, friendly
shapes, made
Grand nature, delicate colors, woven
with gardeny
curves are obviously the Elves.
materials.
Yet, a different human kingdom of Must be
Minis Tirith with its very tall shapes Hobbit-made.
that climb the mountainside.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 62


Shapes are also important for logos, I think Star Trek beat Star Wars at and variety in use of positive and
emblems and related branding for a was the emblem designs representing negative space. Its easy to imagine
culture as well. The Star Trek versus alien cultures, and organizations. that these are alien cultures with
Star Wars debate is one which will live Star Trek symbols have a huge different beliefs, customs, and goals.
on for generations, but one thing that variety in shapes, variety of detail,

Dominion Andorian Empire Ferengi Borg Breen Confederation

Star Fleet Cardassian Union Iyaaran Klingon Romulan

Angelone Aldean Tkon United Federation Vulcan


of Planets

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 63


Visually, this
Good guys, makes it look
bad guys like all Jedi are
and neutrals Rebels and
all use circles. all Rebels are
Jedi... but they
arent.

Star Wars on the other hand... has I understand that Luke was a Rebel Mandalorians have nothing to do
a lot of circles. Honestly, if I were and oversaw the New Jedi Order with either Empire or Rebels. What
trying to brand myself as a Rebel (according to Wookiepedia), but being seems more likely, is that theres
against the Empire, I wouldnt have a Rebel and being a Jedi are two a Star Wars game out there that
used the same primary circular way different things, right? You could needs interchangeable icons for the
shape. argue that Luke doesnt know how players allegiance. All these circles
to design logos all right, moving on. visually communicate that these
What really confuses me is why the Why do the Mandalorians use circular are different sub-units of a single
New Jedi Order has the Rebel Alliance designs too? Yeah, theyve got lots organization, which isnt true.
symbol slapped on top. of spikes, but theyre still circles.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 64


Division of an overall larger group Avatar the Last Airbender is an interesting case in which there are a few
isnt always a bad thing. In fact, different sets of symbols to define each nation/element. On the Avatar world
sometimes its exactly what you map, simplified Chinese characters were used, for water, earth, fire, and air.
want. Consider the 4 houses of
Hogwarts in Harry Potter.

The symbols for each nation (in color below) were more specific on each
cultures aesthetic and principles. Left to right: Water Tribe-flow &
adaptability, Earth Kingdom-strength & security, Fire Nation-abundance &
ambition, Air Nomads-harmony & enlightenment.

All 4 were have said to have been


made by British wizards and witches,
and they are 4 different sections
The element symbols (above) are the most cohesive symbols despite being
of one school, so it makes sense that
different shapes because of the swirl that is used in each of them. It sends
they all have roughly the same shape
the visual message that all elements come from a universal energy source.
and design (and yet still had more
variation than Star Wars! Just saying Shape is powerful! Use it to identify your characters culture!
it like it is. I still love you, Star Wars.)
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 65
if these walls could talk
When drawing an interior we might But what story do they tell? What
end up with the Floor Model problem. year is this? What country is this?
Who lives here? Is this person young,
Theres definitely functional furniture old, or somewhere in between? Do
in the room, storage, wall decorations, they have a dream? Fears? Issues?
knickknacks like books and all that
good stuff, but it feels like no one All of that information will dictate
actually lives there. Think about it as a ton about what the room will look
if these walls could tell you about the like, because in the fictional world,
person who lived there. What would characters are surrounded only by
they say? things that reveal the following about
their character:
The first one says This character
really likes lime green + purple and ** What they love
jigsaw puzzle motifs. ** What they use
** What they aspire to be
The second says This couple likes ** What confines them
butterfly photos and drawers.
I claim this only happens in the
The third says This person never fictional world, because I have had
uses anything on those shelves and the actual experience of someone
uses the laptop on the floor. who didnt know me looking at my
room to deduce what I was like by

66
the things in there. In reality, my well as reveals how a thief would The rabbit is the only thing Parker
room was basically storage for some make a security system to beat took with her when she left her
textbooks and other things that another thief: Just dont give them a abusive home as a young girl. Why
didnt have any other place to go in place to hide. does she still have it as an adult?
the house. This person saw these In my opinion, she loves it. It was the
textbooks in my bookcase and said All of Parkers tools and equipment only thing she considered to be family.
Wow, you must really love Math! and are laid out in neat rows so she can
I snort-laughed because nothing could tell in an instant if anything was taken The cereal, to me, represents the
be further from the truth. or moved. childhood that she was robbed of
when she taken in to be trained as a
But check out this fictional example: thief. (Ironic, huh?) It could also be a
nod to why Parkers kind of crazy, like
shes on a sugar-high all the time.

Regardless of what the viewer thinks


The only things unrelated to Parkers it means, it will mean something if you
work are the boxes of cereal and the include it.
stuffed rabbit toy on the bed.
This is the room / home of Parker
In Parkers case, her room talks
the thief on one of my favorite TV
mostly about what she uses (thieving
shows, Leverage. She only uses a small
tools) with a little bit about what
space in the middle of her house which
confines her emotionally (security
happens to be a warehouse.
and trust issues) and what she loves
I thought it was brilliant. It shows
(rabbit toy & cereal).
her love for concealing darkness as
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 67
Heres another example: character. The bedding in the bathtub At a certain point in the story after
is evidence of the psychological the two have started dating, Haesoo
childhood trauma that still confines is struggling to understand Jaeyeols
him as an adult. Hes also has mental illness, but hes chosen to
obsessive-compulsive disorder which distance himself from her. Feeling
is partly shown through his a strict helpless and powerless, the only
color palette that includes only white, way she feels she can get closer to
black, red, blue, and yellow. understanding him is to spend time in
Yes, this man is sleeping in his bathtub. his old room, and even tries sleeping in
Its a screen shot from the Korean To contrast that, the love interest, his bed/bathtub.
drama, Its Okay, Thats Love. Haesoo, is a psychiatrist who works
(Its kind if a heavy, strange show so much that she has a rather
about how the human brain creates bland, mismatched room, with only a
phobias, hallucinations, and such as a dominating photograph of a particular
way to cope with severe trauma or location that she loves.
guilt. I dont really recommend it to
everyone... @_@; )
(Oh the drama! Oh the feels! ~ )
This man in the tub, Jaeyeol, escaped
being beaten to death as a child by If either of those rooms had 5 math
hiding in an outhouse. Since then, the books in it, your first thought would be
only place that feels safe enough for that they have a connection to math,
him to sleep is in a locked bathroom. not that someone else needed to
Most definitely farfetched, but that store their textbooks in their rooms.
room says a great deal about his _;
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 68
Granted, those are pretty extreme
examples.

Perhaps your character is not


involved in theft and/or dealing with
psychological trauma, but is just a
fairly normal human-ish character Little boy Andys room from Toy
trying to figure out what to do with Story 2. Concept art of Princess Annas room
his/her life. from Frozen.

Lets look at more examples of such


characters and their rooms:

College student Andys room from


Toy Story 3.
Orphaned boy-ninja Narutos room

High school student Yuis room from


K-ON. High school student Harus room from Gamer dude Mordecais room from
The Cat Returns. Regular Show.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 69
Normally, you might assume the more
possessions a character has, the
wealthier they are.

Yet, if you study Princess Annas


room, its rather sparse. Yuis and
As a little boy, we can see Andy
Harus rooms are full of things, but
loves cowboys and astronauts. He
Annas Room they dont seem that rich. How does
may even want to be a cowboy or
that work?
astronaut when he grows up! Theres
nothing that confines him, and he
Its the design of the space and
mostly uses his toys.
the objects, as well as the cultural
standards of wealth.

Annas room is spacious, has a tall


ceiling, large windows, tall chairs, a
huge painting, a chandelier and that
typical princess-canopy curtain thing
over her bed. All of that is difficult to As a high school grad, Andy has
install and expensive to produce. surrounded himself with his new
interests of skateboarding, rocknroll,
Haru and Yui on the other hand have sports cars and monster movies. He
small rooms with furniture and items even partially covered up the Buzz
that look inexpensive and functional. Lightyear poster.
Yui and Harus Rooms
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 70
loneliness. There
is only one small
bed here, and
although it is
difficult to see,
his empty noodle
cartons are still
on the floor, so
theres definitely
A visual item of confinement also
no one around to
makes its appearance! A white board Even if your character doesnt have cook for him, or make sure he cleans
with a grid of the days of the week many belongings, you can still show up after himself.
show Andy is now confined by his what they love, use, aspire to be and
schedule and isnt free to play like are confined by. Is it just me, or does it feel like the
he was when he was younger. The
plant in the corner and the two
games and toys he used to play with Narutos room is rather sparse, but furniture units were just left there
daily on the shelves are now replaced the only two images on the wall are by the previous owner?
with books and equipment for his the mark of his dream to be the
other hobbies. leader of the hidden leaf clan, and his You can design little things like that
first true love: ramen. Theres an which are quite subtle, but because
alarm clock, and laundry line which he of your story and characters, they
uses. make perfect sense.

Although it may not be obvious right


away, Naruto is confined by his
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 71
Try it! OR TRY THIS! OR tHIS!
See what you can, (or cant) deduce Challenge yourself to draw a room If you have a drawing buddy, you
from the following rooms about what based off of a character, or, a can each design a character, then
the character uses, loves, aspires to character based off of a room. design a room based on your buddys
be, or is confined by. (Bonus points character. It also works if you both
for time period or genre!) draw rooms and then swap.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 72
Try it!

Uses? Loves? Aspires to be? Confined by?

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 73


Try it!

Uses? Loves? Aspires to be? Confined by?

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 74


PROPORTIONS & SCALE
Characters and their backgrounds Scale is the size of a whole as it from a fearsome enemy threatening
are more alike and affect each other relates to another whole. peace, and in doing so, prove their
more than you might think. Two of worth to everyone. One is Mulan, the
the reasons are proportion and scale. You could have built the perfectly Other is Kung Fu Panda.
proportioned doghouse, but if it wasnt
Proportion is the size of a part as it in scale with your dog, you would have
relates to its whole. a problem.

Is this a big nose?


No one knows until we know whose
nose! Hah! (Im so easily entertained.) The Emperors Palace in Mulan has
proportions wider than they are tall,
Actually, its a pretty enlightening giving a sense of weight and power.
Quite often I see artists struggling
little experiment to doodle two
with backgrounds because they draw
identical noses and try to make them
them as they are and dont take
look big or small depending on the
their own story or style proportions
proportion of the rest of the facial
into consideration.
features.

For instance, lets say there are two Kung Fu Panda wanted to emphasize
family-friendly, animated movies the high level of training at the
that take place in ancient China Jade Palace, so they made their
about a main character who doesnt proportions tall, stacked, and at the
fit in at first, but must save China top of a mountain to boot.
75
Backgrounds and props should fit your average human of the same height. interesting that nothing is perfectly
characters as well as their clothes do. Stairs and ladders have very small vertical. The wedge shapes and
rises to accommodate the short legs. unevenness of the buildings are
The first 3D version of Link from whimsical and playful.
The Legend of Zelda games,
wasnt too far Exact opposite is the design of TRON:
off from a regular Uprising. Short torsos with legs that
human-like body go on for days.
proportion and scale.
Then all of a sudden,
we were introduced The door and banister posts are
to Toon Link. short and stubby.
The chibi, pocket-sized version of Link
in the game The Wind Waker.

Obviously, new
background
designs needed to
be made.

The best thing


about it was how apparent that the The bigger ramp planks are thick
backgrounds were made by people and chunky to look stubby at a
who were not only small, but had larger scale. All of that mirrors the
proportionally shorter legs than an proportions of Toon Link. Its also
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 76
Now, imagine theres a scene where and have the same feeling of being Ideally, a background style should be
a character is sitting in a chair. Scale lean and sleek. just as recognizable as the style of
and proportion are going to be very, characters that populate them.
very important!
I follow a lot of animation art blogs
In the real world, chairs have to that show backgrounds. Even if I
be able to support the back of the dont watch/like the cartoon, I can
thighs plus the gluteus maximus. The usually tell where it came from.
chair back usually stop just below the Try it for yourself,
shoulders. Yet, if we were to follow Even if it doesnt fit with real life match the characters
the rules of the real world, we would standards, a chair in the TRON world with the backgrounds
end up with this: should look more like this: that share their
proportions.

Not very TRON-esque looking, but all


kinds of lame and boring. I bet he hits his head on this...

The proportion ratio of TRON:


T
Uprising is all about being thin and tall A
like the characters are. L
Obviously, the buildings are very tall L
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 77
Proportion will be a memorable factor in defining your
art style. What specific things come to mind about the TRY IT! Chair Flair
following artists or their work?
1. Choose a character.
(If you dont recognize a name/work, skip it and research it later.)

Hiromu Arakawa * Fullmetal Alchemist 2. Find reference for a chair, either


Don Bluth * An American Tail, Anastasia real life or in a photo, but not already
Tim Burton * Nightmare Before Christmas drawn.
Walt Disney * Mickey Mouse, Oswald the Rabbit
Lauren Faust * My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic 3. Apply the proportional style
Carter Goodrich * Brave, Despicable Me of the character or art style
Byron Howard * Bolt, Tangled to the chair. Dont change
Nico Marlet * Kung Fu Panda the elements that make up
Hayao Miyazaki * Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro the chair, just change the
Nick Park * Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run proportions.
Beatrix Potter * Tale of Peter Rabbit
Genndy Tartakovsky * Dexters Lab, Samurai Jack
Rumiko Takahashi * Ranma 1/2, Inuyasha
Terryl Whitlatch * Jar Jar Binks, Star Wars beasts
Ai Yazawa * Nana, Paradise Kiss

Its likely youll remember proportional comparisons in the


art style like, big eyes, long torsos, stubby legs, small feet,
etc. Those proportions provide visual guidelines to help
keep both the characters and props consistent.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 78
Visual & Touchable Textures
Yes, there are two kinds of texture! Polka dots are a visual texture. It doesnt mean a bed that feels
The first is the touchable texture like falling right through water vapor
which we all know and love. Its the and plummeting to the earth... (eesh,
way something feels. rough night.)
Like this bumpy, rough tree bark: Although, technically, they are ALL
visual textures. You cant feel the For 2D artists, all textures are
rough bark or the raised dots of visual textures, so the artist has to
the Braille by touching your screen, be aware of edge variety to help
can you? By the magic of our eyes, express if something is a touchable
brains, and memory bank built from texture, or a visual texture.
The other is visual texture. Such as touching things our entire lives, we
the wood grain pattern that appears start to recognize that if something One of these blocks has stripes
when the wood is sanded smooth. looks sharp, it probably feels sharp. (visual), one has ridges (touchable).
If something looks fluffy, it probably
feels soft. Clouds are collections of
water vapor:

Braille dots have a touchable texture, Its the exact same block, just the
of course. edge contour lets us know if the
But the saying like sleeping on a cloud texture is touchable or not. (Lighting
means sleeping on something that also lets you know if something is
feels nice and soft because our brains touchable, but lets just save that for
fill in the expectation of fluffiness. the book on Lighting. ^_^)
79
So theres the clue: Touchable texture is shown through edges (until we study lighting in a different book).
Visual texture doesnt alter the edge of an object, but it gives wonderful contrast and variety for our eyes to enjoy.

This room has almost no texture. This room has visual texture, like This room has visible and touchable
Everything is smooth, and for the wallpaper stripes, heart sticker textures, like actual bricks, a puffy
most part, also blank. and fake brick wallpaper. blanket, heart cutout, weird cutout
for Teddy Bear and a furry rug.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 80


Now that you know the two type of textures, take a look at these examples and observe how visual and/or touchable
textures are used to describe an environment.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 81


Try it! or try this:
1. Sketch out a
simple background,
completely free of
texture.

2. Trace or copy the


background and add
only visual texture,
also known as
patterns.

Do an image search for


the room you are drawing.
(Examples: Teen bed room
3. Trace or copy the
ideas or family room interior
blank version of
decoration)
the background
again and only add
Write down all the visual and
touchable texture,
touchable textures that you
also known as
can identify in two separate
uneven edges.
columns. Which has more?
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 82
STAGE 3: STORY DRAWING
In this section we finally get into some of the nuts and bolts of
perspective drawing, and I offer a few demonstrations for drawing
various objects in multiple perspectives. You may think that everything
will go smoothly, but in my experience, it never does.

If you run into a problem, Id encourage you to just flow with it. Let it
be a mistake and learn from it.

Perfection is an overrated illusion and the arch-nemesis of productivity.

My top 3 favorite quotes about perfection:

The artist who aims at perfection in everything achieves nothing.


-Eugene Delacroix

Have no fear of perfectionyoull never reach it.


-Salvador Dali

Dont trust a perfect person and dont trust a song thats flawless.
-Lane Boy, 21 Pilots
Grid Basics
All linear perspective grids use the 3 For the sake of an easy example, But what if you actually wanted the
dimensions for which 3D stands for: lets start from a top view looking tables position like this:
width (X), height (Y), and depth (Z). down like a floor plan. The grid will
only have two directions: X and Z. 1 wide (X)

2 deep (Z)
All objects have these 3 dimensions. X
Like this beautifully simple Ponderosa
coffee table for instance:
It would get confusing trying to talk
Z
about a 2 square wide table being
Again for simplification, lets say this drawn only one square wide, huh?
Ponderosa table is 2 squares wide by Especially when we get into more
1 square deep (abbreviated as 2x1). complex furniture.
Most would assume you draw the
The table dimensions are 44 wide Even though it sounds more technical
table on the grid like this:
x 15 high x 28 deep (1.1m x 38.1cm x than it should be, its pretty useful to
71.1cm). start thinking in terms of X, Y and Z.
A 2x1 on the X axis will look like this:
You dont need exact dimensions, by 2 wide (X)
1 deep (Z)

the way, I just listed them to give


you an idea of the scale.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 84


2x1 table on the Z axis will look like This book is going to cover the 5 1 Point Perspective Grid
this: most commonly used types of grids/ One axis converges to a vanishing
perspective: point. Typically, its the Z axis.

Isometric Perspective Grid


(or 0 Point Perspective)
None of the axes converge.

Next thing to know: Linear


perspective grids are categorized by
which axes converge into a vanishing
point. If the axis doesnt converge,
the measurements stay true to
real-life measurements like inches or
centimeters. You may see 1 point perspective
X axis where the Y axis converges:
1 inch
0 point perspective does not exist
1 inch

Z axis

in the real world but is fabulous for


using in assembly instructions (like
When they do converge, we can no for Legos), casual games were you
longer measure them with a ruler. build/arrange things like Farmville
or The Sims. All the measurements
1 inch X axis stay accurate in 0 Point. No vanishing
ch

In general, it usually looks strange. I


1 in

points. No distortion at all.


Z axis

dont recommend it.


not

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 85


2 Point Perspective Vertical Grid 2 Point Perspective Horizontal Grid 3 Point Perspective Grid
The Y and Z axes converge. This is The X and Z axes converge to a left You guessed it! All 3 axes converge!
what happens when the camera (or and right vanishing point.
your head) is tilted to look down from
1 point perspective.

Same as 2 point horizontal, 3 point


need the 3 vanishing points to be
very, very, very far away from
Note that these two points usually each other in order to be rid of the
have to be very, very far away to distortion. Most of the time it isnt
You can also use it for looking up at a
look natural. realistic for traditional artists (or
hovering table.
digital ones) to set up an entire grid,
It usually isnt practical to tape 3 because youd need a really long
or 4 more papers to the sides of straight edge to line up with the
your piece to be able to use actual vanishing points.
vanishing points with a really long
ruler. Luckily for us, we can easily set up a
smaller portion of the grid.
Setting up only a small part of the
grid is much easier.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 86
Try it!
Grid Identification
Practice identifying what kinds of
perspective grids might be used to
recreate the following images.
*Hint, theres more than one right
answer.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 87


Answers subtle 3 point that could be a 2 point
Depending on the amount of
simplification or stylization, different
perspective grids can be use. Here
are some possibilities.

1 point

1 point

2 point
vertical, or
2 point 3 point

1 point 3 point
2 point
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 88
Divide and Replicate
If life were easy (and boring) every Amazingly, this still works on our You could find horizontal thirds with a
piece of furniture or measurement perspective-warped friends: sideways v:
needed would be an even square... but 1/ 3
its not like that. 1/ 3
1/ 3

Some things are 1/4 of a square, Depending on how many vanishing


1/ 3, 1/ 2, or 9/ 16. Again, it would be points are in a grid, these lines will
From there, you just divide the shape converge at the vanishing point
easy if they were flat squares, but
parallel to the x, y, or z axis. instead of being parallel.
perspective makes a square look like
this:
To find thirds, you put a v over the .
x. Like this:
Or this: .

Which is why, sometimes, we need to


unleash the power of Equal Division.
By geometric law, if you draw an Believe it or not, theres a web page
x from corner to corner of any Thirds happen where the v lines with instructions on how to equally
rectangle you will find the center. intersect the x lines. divide a rectangle from 1/2 to 1/25! I
dont know why youd need to, but
1/ 3 1/ 3 1/ 3 1/ 3 1/ 3 1/ 3
for reference, heres it is:
http://andreasaronsson.com/guides/
perspective-drawing/divide-into-
Absolute center (half) equal-parts/
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 89
The opposite to that process is Repeat as many times as needed. the same size, but the part in the
called Equal Repetition. Lets say you middle is wider than the wheels
have the first box that you want to measurement, so equal repetition
repeat: wont work. We need a pattern
repetition.

In the flat version, a pattern


Just like Equal Division, this pattern
repetition looks like this:
Simply locate the center with an X works in liner perspective.
and extend the middle line. (wheel) (body)

Cross through the middle of the


Then draw line through from the space in between.
Also incredibly useful, but a little
upper corner through the border
most complicated is repeating two
mid-point on the edge.
different widths. For example, that
motorcycle has two wheels about

equal Ta-da!
Where that line crosses the
bottom border, send a line up.

not equal

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 90


If that pattern needs to continue, such as in a white picket fence, prison bars or pillars it looks like this:

pillar empty space pillar empty space

pillar

empty space

pillar

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 91


Try it!
Designs in 3D
Try drawing windows and a door on
the boxes to the right based on the
designs below. Use your powers of
equal division and replication!

side
front

front

front side
side

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 92


0 Point / Isometric Perspective

As mentioned before, Isometric


perspective has no distortion, and is
locked into this angle which can make
it look a bit stiff.

Heres an example my sister drew


for me in 2012 when I first taught
a 0 point perspective class using the
inspiration of The Legend of Zelda:
The Wind Waker. perspective can be spotted a mile (A big help with making 0 point
away, the storytelling is so good perspective more natural looking is
I still love this piece a lot because that I dont get distracted by the having a foreground character or
even though the Isometric perspective at all. object.)

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 93


More examples of 0 point
perspective. Notice that
ones with people in them
feel like they are part of
a bigger story where as
the empty house layout
above just looks like an
interior design concept
for who knows what.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 94


Thumbnails for Isometric Perspective
For all of the demonstrational pieces, I set up as many thumbnail grids as I only added the rule of thirds
Ill be using the same tagline: I could fit on my paper. Although, guides to the left column because I
some people dont like to set them like to practice visualizing without a
Corso (the skunk) is stirring a up ahead of time. Do whatever grid for the rest.
medicinal potion in his tree house. makes more sense to you.

I know that I want the finished


image to fit in this book, which will be
dimensions of 10.5 x 7 inches. Using
the thumbnail proportion math, that
comes out to 2.25 x 1.5 for my
thumbnails.

Personally, I like to use ballpoint pens


with different colored ink to plan
out my thumbnails. Not being able to
erase stops me from fussing over
unimportant details.

I use one color (in this case pink)for


the grid lines and a different color
(black) for the actual drawing.

Doesnt have to be a perfect grid!


Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 95
Heres a look at how I sketched 5. Draw Another One!
each of my thumbnails. Keep sketching thumbnails. Some
draw 10, others 90. Change something
1. Focal Point/Story with each and every thumbnail.
I almost always draw the character
first. You have these options:

2. Counter Balance a. Camera Position (Even applies to


Next I try to add a shape or piece Isometric, it could be looking up
of furniture that fills in the biggest instead of looking down.)
empty space a bit. b. Format/Borders (Change the
paper format to portrait,
landscape, square, etc. Im not
3. Overlapping at liberty to do that because
Place an object in front of another of my predetermined paper
object to overlap. Or, draw measurements.)
something behind an object. (I guess c. Subject Pose or Object Position
thats Underlapping?) (Move the character, furniture, or
buildings around.)
4. Repeat d. Any combination of the options
Keep repeating steps 2 and 3 until above
your time limit is up.
Whatever you do, dont change your
story!
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 96
Before you begin thumbnail sketching,
set a timer for 1-2 minutes. Yes,
only 1-2 minutes!

The biggest problem with thumbnail


sketching is thinking about it too
much. A short time limit helps you to
just draw without second-guessing
yourself.

For the next few pages, Ill share


those same progress steps for the
following thumbnail sketches.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 97


Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 98
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 99
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 100
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 101
Woohoo! 16 composition thumbnails to choose from!

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 102


Once Ive drawn 10 to 50 thumbnails, There are also some to be tossed
I like to go through and eliminate out just because they ended up have
the ones that are obviously not some awkward empty space (#1-3)
communicating the story that I or important parts of the story are
want to tell. too close to the edge. (#4).

For example, #8 makes the


character look sinister because the
extreme looking up angle makes the
viewer feel small and powerless.

#6, 7, 10, and 11, have the characters


back to the viewer which takes the
attention off of him. Not great since
he is supposed to be the focal point!

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 103


After culling the sketches down to #14 was my favorite so far, but I still
the ones that tell a story without wanted to try a few more things.
major composition weaknesses, I I drew one more thumbnail with
glanced over the remaining options to changes to the positioning of the
choose whichever one that I liked the characters and objects, as well as
best. added some stuff.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 104


Characters in 0 Point Perspective
0 Point Perspective can be great Ill be drawing my skunk character Next, I added the legs organically,
for displaying information about a stirring his latest medicinal keeping in mind the general looking
character, but it can also be really concoction in a big cauldron. The pose down angle.
stiff. I want is something like this:

(Not 0 Point
Perspective)

When you pose your characters in


0 Point, dont mind the grid so much. I started with putting the shoulder
The only things that need to stay and hip lines parallel to the grid and
Sketched out the angle of the spoon,
on grid are the shoulders and hips sketched out the torso shape.
which doesnt need to stay on-grid,
(highlighted below.) the position of the arms, and hands.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 105


Head and tail sketched in next. Added on more construction lines for Refined it with some darker lines and
his glasses, hair, and head shape. hey, look at that! He isnt posed like a
robot.

For heads, you may want to try using


the grid angles for the construction Tunic, spoon, more adjustments to
lines at first. the pose.
Heres how it looks overlaid on my
thumbnail sketch. I changed the tail
position a bit, but he mostly fits in
the planned space.

The angles are more tilted than you


might think.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 106


Rectangular Stuff in 0 Point Perspective
Heres how I would go about drawing Right now, my characters height is Now its easy to make the side of the
the table from my Props designs: something like 10 cubes tall. table 2 cubes tall, and 2 deep. I know
I want the table top to be about a
10
9 third of the tables height.
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1

First, Id need to figure out how big


it is in comparison to my character. Trying to divide that into thirds
Its roughly 1/3 of his height. would be a pain for me.
To find 1/3, I use equal division as
Instead, I can just change the size explained on page 93.
of the grid so that hes 9, 6, or 3
cubes tall. 1/ 3

6
Comparing the prop to your 5
4
character, instead of the grid, offers 3
way more flexibility. For instance, the 2
size of the grid can be changed. 1

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 107


For the width of the table, I From here, I dont measure too Looks ten times better after I just
estimate its 2 and 1/2 wider than it much because its a made-up table. cut a few spaces out of the legs and
is tall. If you were to draw an actual made the table top larger than the
table for the purpose of building table base.
one in your garage, that would be a
different matter. Since this is art,
I have some wiggle room as far as
proportions go.

Obviously the height will be the same


and the table top will also be the This table is also unique in that it
same thickness. has a small fire pit on top. I simply
draw out the dimensions of the fire
pit using the grid angles...
Remember, when something looks
like it was made out of a cardboard
boxes, its usually because the overall
shapes are too smooth.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 108


...and add the inside lines. Here it is added to the illustration.

Thats a nice start, but the whole


If a drawer look like it is drawn with table looks really sharp and cold, By the way, traditional artists, if you
a marker on the tables surface like which is the opposite of what I want. use a light table or window to allow
this:
you to see the grid underneath your
Using this general construction, I drawing paper, all of these techniques
can freehand draw right over the can still apply to you!
top of it and round off all the sharp
corners. Next up is how to draw ovals in 0
point, since Ill need some of those to
draw the cauldron.

Then go and study some real life


drawers to see how they pop out or
sink into the table or desk.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 109


Ellipses in 0 Point Perspective
Its tempting to slap any sized squares first.
ellipse (thats a fancy word for oval)
can go on top of an isometric grid. Ill be adding the cauldron to my
Since its curved, it shouldnt have to character drawing from earlier. (Yes, hes
follow a linear grid, right? hovering in
midair, but
Cauldron I can add
a step stool
needed. later.)

I want to know how much grid


space the whole cauldron will take
Umm... no. Not right. up, so I plot out the whole cube.
An ellipse does follow the grid in its
own way. It basically needs to be an I like to plot out the cubic space
Isometric square with its corners first.
rounded off.

Draw wheels, clocks, and circular Heres the square that will mark Plotting out the ellipse on the top.
windows by thinking of them as the top of the cauldron.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 110
You really only need to draw 1 chain
There we go! And what about a link when working in isometric. Digital
Next I create an oval that follows
handle? artists can copy, paste, and flip
the curve of the top oval, but extends
horizontally. Traditional artists can
down to the bottom cube corners.
use a light box method to trace the
This is the body of the cauldron.
chain link once, flip the paper over
(the horizontal flip) and trace it
again.

+ =

At this point, Im just freehand


sketching the chain and handles. Of course, it is tedious to create all
those chain links, so think carefully if
Not a bad, but it needs that rounded you want to put the time into it!
rim that cauldrons have.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 111
There it is so far. Poor guy is still Next, I need to make it the same Already theres a problem: how does
standing on thin air, so lets give him height as the cauldron, so that it is on the skunk guy even get on that stool
a step stool. the floor surface. with his short legs? Heres a side
view of some steps added:

Notice, I didnt follow


the grid perfectly.
Using my character as the point of
I want it to look similar to the table, Then I fill in the top of each step.
reference, Ill start out by making
so Ill start by deciding how thick the (If youre drawing with pencil,
the surface that hes standing on.
top part will be. you dont have to fill it in, its just
easier to see that way in this
demonstration.)

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 112


I dont like how the side is completely A few more lines added to remove Looks better! Ill also cut some away
smooth, so Ill cut away from the a small amount from the side of the from the base because I want to.
sides a bit. First I just mark out the stool.
top plank of each step.

Move this line up.

Give it some line treatment to round


I decide how much I want to I dont really like the way the middle off the corners and take away the
remove from the side and copy step seems too low, so no big deal in mechanical precision of the straight
that measurement to the stair top isometric, we just move it up a bit. lines, and now it looks like this.
corners. (Even the highest one.)

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 113


Irregular forms in 0 Point Perspective
Time to draw a tea kettle, a Which all put together ended up like With an irregular shape, the first
very irregular form, in 0 point this: decision to make is how to use the
perspective. I found three tea pots standardized cube unit to measure
that had elements that I wanted the object. Option A: Use a square
for my own design: plus an addition of 1/4 square.
1: a flat
body shape.

This tea kettle is going on the


table I drew before:
2: A natural
Option B: Encompass whole thing in a
tree branch
square and subtract 1/4 at the top.
handle.

3: A leaf
motif.

And should fit in the little fire pit on


the table.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 114


Im going to choose option A, because Then I put an ellipses inside the blue
I feel like it. Honestly, either way is marks. This is the widest part of
fine. Whichever makes more sense the tea kettles body.
to you; do that.

The widest part of the tea kettle


body is about 1/3 of the cube.

But the lid is obviously a smaller oval


than the body, so I shrink the top
(red) oval down to the size I want it.

The height (not counting the lids


little handle) comes at about half of
So I mark that on the cube* the cube, so I mark that out too.

1/2

Ill make the same sized oval for


the bottom base as well, and then
connect up the 3 ovals to make my
first 3-D shape of the kettle body.
*equal division on page: 89
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 115
Using this: The handle takes up 1/3 of the cube Im going to add an oval just under
as well, so going back to the 1/3 the centered guidelines as the
marks, I can plot out the space for circumference of the branch, as well
the handle. as two more ovals for the ends of
the branch handle.

To make this:

These ovals do not have to follow the


The handle is going to touch the
isometric grid because the branch is
top plane of the cube, which can
not perfectly circular. Once I have
be difficult to guess where that is
the simple form, Ill just connect it
exactly. So dont guess, and instead
to the body.
put some centered guide lines on the
top
plane.
Not particularly impressive for the
amount of work that went into it, but
the first shape is always the most
labor intensive. It gets way easier
from here.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 116
Finally, lets make the kettle And since we also know that the I placed a larger oval on the kettle
functional by adding the spout. I spout is 1/2 of a cube high, we can body that doesnt have to be
first check the spouts height, and easily extend the lines from the top isometric.
lucky for us, its about halfway. The of the body and connect them up like
very same measurement for the this.
body of the tea kettle. Which will
make this super easy.

Im going to start by drawing an iso Connect them up based on the


square extends 1/4 of a cube farther design.
And add an oval for the spout like so.
than the body.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 117


Added the lid knob. And theres the finished tea kettle, You can draw a lot of complex forms
a very irregular shape in Isometric and items by breaking it down into
perspective. cubes and relative measurements.

Social app games that allow the


player to build a custom room, town,
farm, diner, or other environment
put isometric skills back in high
demand since its the only way
a single building, rug, or table can
Lastly, the leaf motif and surface remian in the correct perspective
detail. no matter where the player places
it on the map.

Heres an example of some


isometric game assests.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 118


The big picture in 0 point
By using the same methods of building objects from simple shapes, your characters environment will come to life piece by piece.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 119


The Horizon Line
For 1 Point Perspective, coming up same level of their bodies depending
next, itll be helpful to know a few on the eye level.
things about the Horizon Line.

The Horizon Line is an imaginary,


but fabulously helpful, guide line that
represents where the sky touches
the earth or sea. It divides the
space into when something should
show the top side or under side.

Above the HL,


curves go up and As you can see, if the photographer
the underside is is standing, the horizon line will be
seen. passing through the models heads at
her eye level.
Below the HL,
curves go down For right now, you can think of the
No matter how close the women
and the topside eye level and the horizon line as the
come to the camera, or how far
is seen. same thing.
they walk away, because they are
Another super useful thing about exactly the same height, they will
In the next couple of examples,
the horizon line is that if there are always pass the horizon line at the
there will be a diagram of a
multiple figures of the same height, same place on their body.
photographer and four identical
they will pass the horizon line at the models.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 120
If the photographer kneels, the eye Perhaps it goes without saying, In the diagram of the leg, you can
level will make the horizon line pass but Im going to say it anyway: A see how the cuff of a sock would
through her at the wrists and hips. persons feet shouldnt ever touch curve downward since it is below the
the horizon line. Its impossible unless horizon line, but a belt would actually
shes flying... curve upward because it is above the
horizon line and eye level.

belt
Up, up,
and away!

Or, laying on the ground, it could pass sock


through the knees. Using those two facts:
(1.) The horizon line divides where a
These figures would have the belt
curve goes up or down, and, (2.) the
and socks both curve down.
horizon line passes through the same
level of a persons body (if they are
The small one at the top, right,
the same height!) no matter how
would have socks, belt and everything
close or far she is standing, here is
curving upwards.
a diagram from one of the Andrew
Loomis books about drawing the
human figure in perspective.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 121


There will be times that a person Its not likely that youll have a
isnt standing on ground level, so how picture with multiple figures all
does that affect the eyes level and exactly the same height, which
horizon line? is where a height chart for your
characters comes in really handy.
The same sized ladies can be moved
For an explanation on how to
up or down on the page without
calculate the heights of figures that
changing their sizes, but the contours
are different heights, check out my
will change.
tutorial using chess pieces here:
http://betsyillustration.deviantart.
com/art/03-Here-s-the-Thing-
About-1pt-Perspective-489304072

Before
For more stuff on drawing multiple
figures in 1 point perspective, I
recommend reading the book
Successful Drawing by Andrew
Loomis.

After

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 122


The Vanishing point
The vanishing point (VP) is another For 1 point perspective, we will need Anytime you see 1 point perspective
imaginary guide line that gives us to place one VP on the horizon line. where the horizon is high or low on
a point of reference for how much This point may seem like something the paper, it feels like it was a photo
something should shrink as it gets arbitrary, but its actually pretty that was cropped, because your
farther and farther away from the specific. The VP represents where nose isnt in the center.
camera. your nose is pointed when you look
Centered VP/nose
straight ahead. Meaning: it has to
be in the center to look the most
natural.
Like this:

vanishing point
VP/nose not centered so
this part feels strange.*
Not like this:

(*2 or 3 point perspective would correct this.)


Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 123
This doesnt mean you are required The vanishing point is only used for
to put the VP in the center. Its the lines that are on the Z axis, or
r i z o n line
simply the most natural looking in other words, the depth of things. h o
Widths will be perfectly parallel p th
there. de
to the horizon line, and heights will NO! Not a
be perfectly perpendicular to the 90 degree

height
horizon line. angle
horizon line
h wid th
e pt
d

But before you let all this technical


information go to your head,
height remember that none of this matters
if you dont have a story.
width
If you rotate the camera on its Z
This is still true of the angle horizon
axis, its called a Dutch angle. Doing
line.
that can add mystery, suspense, or
line
a feeling of instability. Using a Dutch horizon
angle on this room from earlier p th
de
changes the feeling of it lot. I feel
Story: In the supplies room,
height

like I should enter with caution when


Arietty and her dad prepare to
its at an angle like that.
YES! A 90 borrow things from the human
degree angle!
wid th beans.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 124
1 point perspective
1 Point Perspective may be brushed moments similar to how the melody
off as being boring because it only of a song needs resting pauses in
has the one vanishing point. I would between the notes.
challenge that opinion by asking is it
the perspective thats boring or the
story thats boring?

This piece to the left is anything but


boring! Plus, it makes me want to see
what would happen next!

The other pieces have calmer story


moments, but stories need quiet

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 125


There are 4 things to keep in mind Number 4!
when you start drawing your 1 point The vanishing point must be on the
thumbnail sketches. HL HL HL and near the center of the
composition for the least amount of
Number 1! No! No! distortion.
The height (Y) lines must be
perpendicular to the HL.
Number 3!
The horizon line must be near the
center of the composition for the
least amount of distortion.
Yes! Yes! Yes!

No
Yes!
HL HL
HL HL

Number 2! Yes!
The width lines (X) must be parallel
to the horizon line.

HL No!
HL HL
No!
Yes! Yes!
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 126
There are also few traps awaiting With this small room:
you with 1 point perspective. I would
like to briefly point them out and
hopefully save you some frustration
later.

Limousine syndrome
This happens when items are drawn
too much along the vanishing point Compare how little you can see The wall is the same size in both, but
guidelines of the Z axis. It makes of the cars side doors in this because of the bottom edge of the
regular cars look like limousines. photograph. To beat Limousine wall is being placed farther away
syndrome, remember that the less from the HL in this second example,
we see of the side, the more it is in it appears to be a smaller room.
perspective.
Accuracy Obsession
Unintentionally large room After practicing perspective drawing
Compare this big room: for a while, you may find yourself
This isnt helped by the fact that so caught up in measurements and
most photographers use wide angle calculations that youre suddenly
lenses (including those of you who take afraid to draw anything without
ref photos with your smart phone) measuring out a perfectly accurate
which distorts the appearance of cube first, and end up losing the
objects more so than they actually heart of the story artist that you
are in real life. once were. Dont stress yourself out!

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 127


For the 1 point perspective perspective. You just want to get The big difference between 0
demonstration, I drew another 16 the general feeling of the composition point and 1 point is that its really
thumbnails following the same steps down on paper. difficult to just draw one thing all
as for the Isometric: the way and pray that it all works
Again, I used a different color ink out in the end. Safer to slowly build
1. Focal point/character
(red) to show the perspective lines. up everything all at once to better
2. Counter balance object
My favorite thumbnail comp is this one. problem-solve as problems arise.
3. Overlap/Underlap objects
4. Repeat until time runs out

While youre drawing your thumbnails,


dont worry about making things in

I set up the HL and VP. I made


a crosshair mark instead of a dot
because I might measure off of
the edge of it one time and off the
center of the dot another time.

A dot can be less accurate. An intersecting line is more


accurate.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 128
I sketch out the gesture of my I decide how much bigger I wanted
character and the nearest side of the nearer half to be... (Green)
the step stool (without the steps).

I know I want the cauldron to be a


...and then doubled it. (Darker green)
little bit bigger than the step stool,
so I extend out the stools lines
Then cast the lines from the VP. (orange) and add some lines from
the VP somewhat based on my
thumbnails size of cauldron.

The cauldron is going to be in a fire


pit type thing, so I can draw out the
main boundaries for that too.

I can choose however far back I


want the stool to go, but to avoid Also set up
Limousine syndrome, its most for equal
natural if I keep it close to his feet. repetition.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 129


(Pink lines are the characters height, with the biggest question being how
Remember that this drawing isnt brown is the stool hes standing on.) can I figure out how tall to make
your finished drawing, its your
(He can jump down each step? The answer is easy
preliminary one, so its OK to use a off the stool.) actually, go back to the source of the
bunch of different colored pencils/
story!
inks if that helps you to keep the
lines more organized.
I can measure out a natural stair
height for my character on his
I want the room to be about 3 more
step stool and then just carry the
fire pits deep, so I used some equal
measurement over to the staircase!
replication to plan that out.
Brilliant!

Now I can decorate the back wall to


my hearts desire since its mostly
horizontal and vertical lines.

That will tell me where the back


wall meets the floor and I like to
take a measurement of how tall my
character would be if he walked over (Equal division at work to figure out
to the back wall just for some scale thirds.)
reference of how large things should The stairs on the right hand side
be. are probably the next thing to tackle
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 130
I plot out the entire height of the And, of course,
staircase which differs slightly from the VP needs
my thumbnail. to do its thing
and make
depth lines.

Height of the first step travelling to


the right.

I add a diagonal
line to mark out
the nose of each
Using inches or
step.
centimeters or
whatever unit of
measurement
Marked out a line in green so that
you use, repeat
the VP would have something to go
the height of the
to, and show me how the first steps tread
step all the way
height would shrink as it recedes in
up the entire nose
space. side view
height of the of stairs
stair case.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 131


Each time the Add an additional parallel diagonal line
The nose alignment line will have a
orange line (orange) to cut down the width of
big influence on the t read of each
crosses a VP the stairs.
step, as demonst rated below.
line, I draw a
horizontal line to
mark the nose
of the step.

Then I just cut


out the treads
and I end up
with a really
wide set of
stairs.

The heights of the steps are


exactly the same, but the t reads
get longer or shorter depending
on the angle. Use this boring
knowledge to create stairs in scale
with your character.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 132
With some patience, following this or the size of the table in the
routine of heights, widths and foreground (with the tea pot on it).
depths will become faster and more
second-nature so that measuring I also changed the size of the
wont have to happen quite so much. cauldron and fire pit blocks because
For example, I didnt measure out artists can change their mind all the
the steps of the ladder, the scale time. Nothings written or drawn in
of the cupboard under the stairs, stone when it comes to perspective.

To add a railing, I just need to draw


a few more parallel orange lines.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 133


The cauldron is obviously going to use Then draw the cauldron over it. It would probably take 50 more
ellipses, but first Im going to block it pages to show every single item
out. drawn step-by-step, but it really is
just more of the same process Ive
been demonstrating so far.

Each and every time I want to draw


something in the room, I either refer
to the VP, the character, or another
object.

Then I can put ovals on the top The first few objects in the piece are
bottom, and middle based on each the slowest, but once you have more
plane. and more things to reference from,
youll likely notice the progress of the
drawing getting faster.

Not going to lie, it does take some


However, you may notice that the time. I recommend setting a timer
orange oval and most of the magenta for 45-90 minutes of drawing at a
oval didnt really show up in the time. That way youll be reminded
cauldron sketch, so again, you dont to rest your eyes, get up and move
To make it rounder, Ill adjust have to do all this stuff, just draw around, not to mention you might
the top opening (green) and base as much as you need for it to make notice something you didnt before if
(magenta) ovals to be narrower. sense to you. you come back to it after a break.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 134
If youre wondering how far to go with the preliminary drawing, its really up to you. This is just an example of when I
might put the pencil down and move on to ink pens. Onward to 2 point vertical perspective!

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 135


Line of Sight
As we saw in the previous section, 1 But what if the LOS is tilted down? The two vanishing points in 2 point
point perspective is a situation when vertical perspective represent
the viewer, or photographer, looks gravity and depth. If you want the
Line
straight ahead at one side of an of s LOS to be angled down, the top VP
ight will be the depth VP. Like this*:
object. HL

Line of sight Top


Then we get Vertical 2 Point
Perspective which looks something like
HL 1 Point Perspective Depth VP
this: HL
side

1 Point Perspective HL
top top
Line of Sight (LOS)
Front

1 Point Perspective
Or this:
HL
Front
top
*Note this is
Front purposefully
distorted and
exaggerated Gravity aka
for clarity
1 Point Perspective Height VP
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 136
An LOS angled up like this: If youre confused about how to pick If you put your second VP below the
which VP to be the depth VP, just HL, then it will be looking down.
h t remember that the depth VP is
sig
e of always on the horizon line. Depth VP HL
Lin
HL
Depth VP, always. HL
(Height VP) Is like
looking up at
tall buildings. If you put your second VP above the
HL, then it will be looking up.

The Sun

And now you know about the Line of


Sight! Woohoo!
HL
Depth VP
Depth VP
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 137
When Vanishing points get Crazy
Before we move on to 2 Point Vertical
Perspective, we need to talk about
the extreme pain in the neck it is to
use more than one vanishing point.

For example, lets say I were


going to draw something like this
screenshot from Spirited Away: All the extra paper
youd need to reach
the VPs.

Obviously this is
Its a subtle 3 point perspective, but both impractical
if I were to follow the angles all the and improbable, so
way to the Vanishing Points, Id end what is an artist
up with something like the mess over to do? Forget the
on the right. Keep going!
VPs and work off
of a partial grid of
perspective lines
instead!

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 138


When the VP is inside, or near, the comp borders, its not that bad to use it, With that observation alone, we can
but it give off really steep and extreme angles. reverse-engineer a grid to make
it feel like the VP is super far away
without having to make a 7 league
paper trail.
horizon line VP VP
I can start with a horizon line:
Angles change e p!
direction a lot. ste
HL
composition borders / edges of paper

When the VP is far away from the comp borders, it looks more natural and
the guidelines are shallow or nearly horizontal.
And choose the angle I want at the
edge of my comp.

horizon line VP
HL
shallow!
Angles dont
change that much.
composition borders / edges of paper

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 139


We already get the feeling that the Much easier to start with the Choose an angle for the other side
VP is far away because its a shallow farthest out lines, then divide the too.
angle. A line added between this one space between it and the HL, and
and the horizon line has to be at an repeat.
angle that splits the difference.
It wont be exact, but
itll be close. :)
HL
4th
HL
2nd
1/2 way And repeat the process.
1/2 way
Like this. 1st 3rd
Not 1/2 way
Repeat on the top.
Not this.
(The lines do not need to be evenly
Any lines below will be more angled, spaced by the way)
but its difficult to tell how much
more angled they will be, especially
when youre just learning. HL If its 3 point perspective, repeat
one more time. (Again, this is where
HL the different color ink/lines can come
Maybe like in handy.)
this?
Not sure..
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 140
Because there is no vertical horizon Of course, if you wanted to try I hope this will encourage you to not
line, we have to add that Center of getting extra pieces of paper and only use 2 and 3 point perspective in
Vision line (COV). using a really long straight edge to high-flying action-adventure scenes,
reach the distant VPs, you can do but also in quieter talking scenes.
COV that.

I did it a few times, and it was a


great learning experience. But I
never wanted to have to repeat the
process again! 3

Just like when you were learning to


write the letters of the alphabet,
you probably had guidelines to help
Keep your angle subtle! you keep the proportions of the
letters accurate. These grids are
similar to that. Only guiding lines.

After you got used to writing your


letters, you didnt need all the guide
lines anymore. The same will be true
for perspective. Use a grid only as
long as you need it.

Ta-da!
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 141
2 Point Vertical Perspective
I feel like 2 Point Vertical Perspective is highly overlooked.
I didnt even know it existed until I took a class on
perspective drawing. Its a really great stepping stone
in-between 1 Point and 3 Point since it allows you the
dynamic angles of looking up or down, with a 1/3 less work!
The diner image to the right was my very first attempt
at using 2 point vertical perspective, and earned me
the highest grade I received in the class because it had
the most storytelling out of everything I had done that
semester! Below are two more examples that show the
versatility of 2 point looking up or looking down.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 142


There are 4 things to keep in mind No! from one VP to the other. But
when you start drawing your 2 point personally, I like to be on the safe
vertical thumbnail sketches. side and do a little more than that.

Number 1!
The width (X) lines must be parallel I measure the
Number 3!
to the HL. longest side.
A bit of a continuation of #2, the VPs
must be 90 degrees apart. In other
words, a perfect square rotated to
be a diamond like this.
Yes! Yes! No! Triple it.
VP
90 degrees

HL
Your drawing
HL HL
fits inside.
Number 2!
You can have one VP inside the comp,
but not both because of #3. VP

Yes!
Because humans have around a 60
degree range of vision, the longest
side of your composition border can
Easy!
only be 2/3 the length (maximum)
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 143
The horizon line must be either at Having the VPs this far apart
the very top (to look downward) or means you can actually put 2 or 3
at the very bottom (to look upward). thumbnails in between, keeping in
mind that the longest side has to be
Like HL Yes!
no longer than 2/3.
this
to look
down.

Yes!

Still OK.
Yes!

No!
No!

This is called the Center of Vision


Or like
Number 4! line and will be looked at a bit more
this to
Your composition need to be center in 3 Point. For now, just keep those
look up.
HL thumbnail comps close to center
aligned close to the true vertical line
between the VPs. alignment.
(*Remember: the Depth VP is always on the HL)
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 144
After you set up some 2 Point 4. Repeat Whatever you do, dont change your
Vertical Perspective thumbnail Keep repeating steps 2 and 3 until story! </recap>
borders with VPs, its back to the your 1-2 minute time limit is up.
heart and soul of your drawing: the Im super indecisive when it comes
story! 5. Draw Another One! to drawing, so I actually keep a small
Keep sketching thumbnails until you note pad nearby when Im working
Follow the same steps as described have 10-100 done. Change something on thumbnails. Then if I get a new
for Isometric thumbnails on page 96, with each and every thumbnail. idea while Im sketching a specific
which I will recap here so that you story, I just write down the tagline
Things to change are:
dont have to go find that page again. to be used another time.
a. Camera Position (Looking up or
<recap> down, greater or lesser angles) Thumbnail sketches
1. Focal Point/Story with my story now
I almost always draw the character b. Format/Borders (Change the
first. paper format to portrait,
landscape, square, etc. Not an
2. Counter Balance option if there is a predetermined
Next I try to add a shape or piece final image size.) Notebook with story
of furniture that fills in the biggest taglines for later
empty space a bit. c. Subject Pose or Object Position
(Move the character, furniture, or If you do this habitually, pretty soon
3. Overlapping buildings around.) you have a collection of story taglines
Overlap or underlap anothe robject just waiting for those times that you
or character. d. Any combination of the options cant think of what to draw!
above (Fun!)
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 145
Heres a look at a few
of my own thumbnails
for the 2 point vertical
demonstration piece.

Again, Im using more


colored ballpoint pens
cause I like them. ^_^

I use one color ink for


each VP, but I switch the
height/depth roles at will.
For instance, in the second
column, the top ones are
looking down, but the third
one is looking up.

I ended up choosing thumbnail #16 be awesome! Or 50? Whoa, youre a


for the demonstration. Even though superstar! Its not uncommon to have to
I tend to choose a thumbnail under do 90-100 thumbs for Finals project in art
20, if you can do 30, that would school just so you know.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 146


Same as the 1 point perspective with the midpoint being just under his By the way, if your character
piece, I enlarge my thumbnail to the arm pits. happens to be 10 heads tall, you dont
actual size that I want to draw, and have to divide the block into 10 unless
sketch in the character first. On my drawing, Ill plot out a block you want to. 4 is usually enough.
following the height/gravity lines.
But this perspective is a little more
extreme than 1 point, so what
if I dont know how to draw my
character at this angle?

Treat the character just like any


other object, and start with the
height measurements.
Then Ill use equal division to mark Like before, after my character is
Corso happens to be 4 heads tall, out 4 horizontal sections. plotted out, I can add the block for
the step stool following the depth
and height.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 147


Most of the step stool will be covered A thing to know about ellipses is I have to find the center of the top
up by the cauldron, but the step stool that they are always perpendicular plane first (equal division, page 89).
block will help me to figure out where to the axis. A little bit like a straw
the bottom of the cauldron will be by through a lid.
extending some lines forward on the
depth guides.

90 degrees

Make the axis by following the height


guidelines.

Keeping in mind the cauldron is So I cant just put an oval in like this:
widest at its middle, I build up
the block following all the guideline
directions.

axis
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 148
Add a line (brown) perpendicular to The difference may appear to be The top of a cupboard shows up in
the axis line (red.) subtle, but it makes a big difference the bottom right corner. Since we
in your linear perspective! cant see where it touches the floor,
theres no need to scale it in relation
to my character.

90 degrees

Then place the oval accordingly. Repeating the blocking in process


for the book shelf on the right. Keep
following those height and depth Some kind of rug in the back.
guidelines.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 149


In the thumbnail I had a table Then extend the height of the step Then I just take the lines back along
(highlighted orange) with a bunch of stool sideways. the depth angles.
doodled jars and things on it.

I want that table to be just a bit


taller than the step stool, so I send
out a line to represent the height of This becomes the tables height line. And move the height bar back too.
the table following the thumbnail.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 150


I want it a little taller, so I extend
the line up.

Lastly, I can finish up the block


based on the height.

With all the major items plotted out according to the height of my character,
from here its going to be more of the same processes: equal division, equal
repetition, and ovals on an axis.

The following pages will have a few progress pictures for you to see the
objects all being built up at once.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 151


Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 152
I am not liking this tangent one bit. Nor this big empty space.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 153
More shelves full of stuff to cover those problem areas.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 154
And there we have the underrated 2 point vertical perspective in action.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 155
Grids are Guides, not rules
Now that you know a little more And these are photographs of real world cities. See the difference?
about the grids, heres a really
important thing to remember:

Grids are guides, not rules.

Here are a few CG images of cities


that stay exactly on the grid.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 156


In real life, buildings have to
acclimate to the mountains, rivers,
and other factors that might make
them go off the grid.

One way is to break out of the


confines of the grid is to use more
Vanishing Points.

Vanishing points are more versatile


than grids because individual objects
within the image can have its own
set of vanishing points.
Its 3 point perspective, but how
Exact horizontal and vertical many Vanishing Points are really
In other words, this means that a
Top of door frame being used in this image?
piece in 3 Point Perspective could (and
should) have more than 3 VPs.
Window and wall edges Again, any object that is off the grid
has its own set of vanishing points.
At first glance, little girl Boos room The table, chairs, laundry basket, toy
is in 1 point perspective. At second blocks, knocked over toys, stuffed
glance, its a very subtle 3 point bear, easel, bed, books, bunny slippers,
perspective, because the horizontals tea pot, floor boards, and rug all have
and verticals arent exactly straight. their own vanishing points.
See:
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 157
book

HL

ro c k i n a s ket b lock
yb blue
g chai
r la undr

b le
ta
d
hin
be
air

easel
ch

a rds bear eas


r bo el
loo
f chair rug
Here are just a few of the VPs in use.

Kind of reminds me of Oceans Twelve. VPs


That one laser dance scene that was the everywhere!
only cool thing in the whole movie.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 158


What in the world are we supposed Really, the only thing that needs to
to do, then? Draw a million vanishing happen (which you may have already
points on top of the grid or what?! noticed) is that all the objects
(My brain cant take it! 3) various vanishing points, still rested
on the horizon line.
Thats up to you. This isnt a rule, Even the ones that go out of frame
just a tool. eventually would join up at the
horizon line.

book

ket lock
ro c k i n bas b
g chai
r und ry blue
la

easel

eas
el

rug
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 159
2 point Horizontal perspective
And now, the companion to 2 Point
Vertical Perspective is 2 Point
Horizontal perspective. Its also
what is classically more well-known
as simply 2 point perspective to
most people.

Like 1 point perspective, it must look


straight ahead at the horizon line,
no looking up or down (that would
change it to 3 point perspective). You
can still get some pretty cool story
moments out of 2 point perspective
as demonstrated by the examples
on the left.

And as with all perspective drawing,


it must have a story. (Have I said
that enough yet?) So get your
taglines, spark and scrap boards
ready!

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 160


There are 4 things to keep in mind 90 degrees Right VP
when you start drawing your 2 point
horizontal thumbnail sketches.
Human vision
is only 60
Number 1! No! degrees
The height (Y) lines must be
perpendicular to the HL. Left VP
Number 3!
The horizon line must be near the
center of the composition just like it
Again, since humans have around a 60
was discussed in 1 point perspective.
Yes! Yes! degree range of vision, the longest
Yes! side of your composition border can
No only be 2/3 the length (maximum)
HL from one VP to the other. But
HL personally, I like to be on the safe
HL
No! side and do a little more than that.
Number 2!
You can have one VP near the I measure the
composition borders, but not both. longest side.
Number 4!
Yes!
A bit of a continuation of #2, the VPs Triple it.
must be 90 degrees apart. In other
words, a perfect square rotated to
be a diamond like this.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 161


You can put more than one composition border between the VPs, but the Follow the same steps to draw your
longest side cant be more than 2/3 of the distance between the VPs. thumbnail sketches:

1. Focal Point/Story
Draw the character or object of
attention first.

2. Counter Balance
Add a shape or piece of furniture
that fills in the biggest empty space.

3. Overlapping
Overlap or underlap another object
or character.

4. Repeat
Keep repeating steps 2 and 3 until
Yes! your 1-2 minute time limit is up.
Yes!
5. Draw Another One!
Keep sketching thumbnails until you
have 10-100 done. Change something
with each and every thumbnail.
No!

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 162


As demonstrated with 2 point I chose thumbnail #11 for this
vertical, I also sketched out 2 demonstration, but it didnt have a
points horizontally and fit 2 or 3 foreground element, so I added a
composition thumbnails in between candle in Photoshop, and I moved the
them to get more natural looking book on the stand closer to him.
(less distorted) perspective.

There is no need to recreate or


use actual vanishing points since I
already have perspective guidelines
in the thumbnail. All I have to do is
enlarge the thumbnail to the actual
size which is 10 x 7 inches.

It will come at no surprise that Ill


draw Corso, my character, first.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 163


I want the cauldron wider than that,
but how would I know if it remains
centered to the step stool? Use Equal
division to find the center, thats how!

This is the first time we havent


been able to see the ground in a
composition. OMG! Plot twist! How
are we going to figure out where the
His step stool is quit a bit taller in this cauldron goes?!
Same as in the 1 point perspective
composition compared to the other demonstration, Ill figure out how
drawings, but regardless of its height, Well, heres one way: I choose
big I want one side of the cauldron
Im going to draw in the top of the how tall I want the cauldron to be
to be and then mirror it with equal
step stool based purely on the size of (seriously, I just pick whatever I
repetition.
Corso and the VP guidelines. think looks good).

You may need to adjust it a few


times on this part because when the
guidelines are so close to the horizon
line, they have a way of distorting
things more than you might think
they will and then somehow you end

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 164


up with a 10 foot coffee table. Its The book stand is so close to the HL
probably less than you think it should that the lines are pretty straight.
be. I also sketch in the shelf that the
candle is on by just following the VP
guideline.

Keeping in mind all the stuff about


ellipses, I doodle in the general shape
of the cauldron.
Theres another table behind the
candle, but how to figure out how tall
it is?

We could do it from measuring the


character, but even easier would be
to just compare it to the cauldron.

Ill start out by carrying over


the cauldron height along the VP
guidelines.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 165


comparison.

I want the table a bit shorter than


It ended up being kind of a huge
the cauldron, so Ill mark out some
looking table, and Im not really liking Since the bottom of the cupboards
spacing.
it, so Ill fiddle with the depth, height cant be seen, its a little ambiguous
and width until I do like it. as to how far back it is in the room.
This can work to my advantage since
it means I wont have to accurately
measure it against anything. I
just follow the guidelines and the
thumbnail.

Then following the guidelines, Ill


make an edge of the table block and I ended up changing the shape of
make sure that it underlaps the the table and putting it farther back.
cauldron rather that draw according The first attempt table is in pink
to the thumbnail. and the final one in brown just as a
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 166
Heres what it looks like so far. It may seem like its barely even started, but a lot of the stuff left to draw doesnt
need any specific measurement.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 167


After some freehand sketching and doodling. I thought it might be neat to include a stone fireplace/oven in the back.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 168


More items on the table and in he cupboards. Remembering that anything below the horizon line should show a bit of its
top side, and anything about the horizon wont. Also, that the ellipses are going to be rather flat throughout the image.

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 169


Clean up the objects a little bit more and slap on some basic tones, and I call this under drawing finished!

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 170


CENTER OF VISION
The Center of Vision line was This one: COV? My teacher was somewhat horrified
mentioned briefly earlier in the book, Not so much and said very urgently, No, no, no,
so lets take a little deeper look at because the no, no, you cant do that. Itll look so
what it does for us in perspective center of the weird.
drawing. picture doesnt
have any vertical, Its called the center of vision line
The COV line is, again, basically where or nearly vertical for a good reason: it really should
your nose is pointed when you are lines and it messes stay near the center for normal
looking at something, and is perfectly with our minds. looking backgrounds.
perpendicular to the horizon line. People would be walking tilted too!
Now that you know that, lets move
In one of my early 3 point on to 3 point perspective!
perspective pieces for a class, I
tried to be original and unique by
plotting out my comp like this:

HL

COV
Above, this photograph of city
buildings looks all right because the
COV is near the center.
COV way over here. Characters walking
tilted over here.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 171
3 point perspective
Because it is the last perspective to
be introduced, its easy to assume
that 3 point perspective is the
hardest, grandest perspective of
them all. This is only somewhat true.
When most books talk about 3 point
perspective, there is an emphasis
on super dynamic camera angles like
these:

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 172


The lesser talked about truth is how
often 3 point perspective is used for
very subtle backgrounds. So subtle in
fact, youd almost mistake them for
2 or 1 point perspective.

173
But first, lets look a little bit at Y - height There is a crazy amount of
what defines a 3 point perspective distortion in many 3 point
drawing. perspective images because the
artist is trying to trace back to
If you think about the buttons on the the actual vanishing points. Which,
elevator, one is a triangle with the as was addressed earlier, isnt
apex at the top, and the other is a very practical if you have to tape
triangle with apex at the bottom. 40 extra sheets of paper to your
composition.

Z - depth So whats an artist to do?


X - width
For looking down, use the down button
Number 1
on the elevator.
Z - depth Do not include the HL inside of your
X - width
composition borders. WHAT?! I
know, this is a shocker, but for a
Imagine that each point of the natural looking up or looking down,
triangle is a vanishing point, and you were going to exclude the HL from
have 3 point perspective. the composition borders.

If you want looking up, use the


3 points of the up button on the
elevator. Nope.

Y - height
174
HL outside of composition borders Number 4
Keep the COV (the perfectly
Yep!
vertical line) near the center of your
Not this. composition.

Number 3
Number 2 The side with the bigger angle
Start out with subtle angles on your dictates if its looking up or down.
partial grids. Its tempting to make No!
clear cut, more dynamic angles to
see the 3 point perspective at its
more obvious, but it will also lead to
distortion. Bigger angle on
bottom = looking down

Yes!
Yes!

Bigger angle on And of course, get your tagline


top = looking up ready before you start sketching
thumbnails.

175
Or, you can also just take a thumbnail Then I add the new 3 point And the second half of the story is
from earlier and adapt it to 3 point. perspective guidelines. the cauldron and its contents which
Isometric is a perfect candidate for he is stirring. That little shelf in the
this. bottom right corner too.

Ill take the very same thumbnail


that I used in the beginning. (I love
it when a story comes around full
circle. ^_^)
I know it looks super chaotic right
It looked like this: now, but Im going to start changing
the objects to the 3 Point guides.
Then the major change of the short
Of course, starting with the star of wall where the floor rises, stairs, fire
the show and using those greenish pit, and foreground bottle on the left.
I think Ill horizontally flip it guidelines to help me position his feet
horizontally this time. and the step stool block.

176
Table, bookshelf, background walls Refining Corso and his step stool block Sketching out half of the cauldrons
ALL shall follow the guidelines. first. block.

You can definitely tell the difference


from the 0 Point I started with! Using equal repetition to get the full
size.

Followed by some equal division to find


the mid point so that I can center
the cauldron.
And place the oval with the
perpendicular axis in mind.
From here, its the same old process.
First, enlarge the thumbnail to the
actual working size. For me, its 10 x
s)
6.5 inches. se gu ideline
(follo ws the

177
While sketching in the cauldron, it I decided to change the bottle on The foreground bottles with corks.
made a tangent with one of the lines the right to a quill left in a jar of ink Trying to keep those ellipses nice and
of the step stool, so I altered the just for something different. flat.
shape slightly to get more overlap.

I tried freehand drawing the table,


Then, I tackled the boards along the but it was looking a little weird, so I
Fire pit underneath, just eye-balling short wall. I could have used equal made a block following the guidelines
it and following the guidelines repetition, but I wanted the boards to help me out.
to be varied in size.

178
Freehand sketching the details. Trying to avoid tangents, I position Following the guidelines, that will tell
the bottom and side of the bookcase me the height of the first shelf.
(in orange).

Im going to use the table height as


a measurement for the bookcase in
back. I figure the height of the table Where the table guide cross the
bottom of the book shelf, Ill go I add a few more guidelines for the
is probably the height of the bottom
upward until I cross the other table shelf thickness and such.
most shelf.
guideline.

179
I sketch some empty bookshelves on Continuing with the other wall. Adding all the knickknacks.
top of the plot following the angles of
the guidelines.

Opening for another little room. I didnt measure for any of the
ovals, but the closer they were to
the towhere the horizon line is out
I put in an angle for the back wall. of framethe flatter I made them.
If I had wanted to, I could have
replicated the table depth a couple of
times to measure, but I think it looks
OK like this, so why question it?

Darkened it so Id understand the


depth of it better. Dont forget to put some time into
where the floor meets the wall. I
did an online image search for wall
trim ideas and was instantly shown
more wall trim options than I even
knew existed.
180
I set up some guides for the wall trim to stay consistent on all the walls. Theres an awkward empty space
right here.

Then add the paneling based on what looks good to me, although you could also
do equal repetition.

Never underestimate the power of


throw rugs.

181
Heres what it looks like so far.

182
Starting the cleaner line work...

183
And the finished underdrawing!

184
Perspective Drawing gallery
Isometric / 0 Point Perspective

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 185


1 Point Perspective

186
2 Point Vertical Perspective

187
2 Point Horizontal Perspective

188
3 Point Perspective

189
PERSPECTIVE IS SUBJECTIVE
Perspective drawing is one of those been called the most famous artist This same artist who achieved this
topics that seem to be objective, of all time for having painted the two spectacular linear feat, of course, also
factual, and an absolute truth. most famous pieces of art of all time. painted Mona Lisa. Surprisingly, the
Theres a clear line between the perspective of the background in the
perspective being right or not, and The Last Supper (below) is Mona Lisa painting is incorrect.
people will be sure to tell you which considered a linear perspective
side youre on. marvel. In its original location at a
monasterys dining hall, The Last
Yet, in the artistic and visual Suppers perspective matched
storytelling world, perspective is perfectly with the view of the actual
subjective. It changes depending on buildings perspective. Art Historians
your personal preferences and story have said that the monks of the time
goals. must have been amazed with the
optical illusion that were dining in the
For example, Leonardo da Vinci has same room as Jesus and his disciples.

The background on the left is seen


from a higher angle than the
background on the right.
Whaaaaat?? WHY??

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 190


Some say that Leonardo did the Comical?
incorrect perspective on purpose
so that the viewers eyes and brain
subconsciously want to look where the
two different backgrounds meet. Yet,
that area is exactly where her head Samurai Jack purposefully did not use
covers up the backgrounds transition. linear perspective opting for a more
Instead of discovering the solution 2D paper cut-out style.
to the background, we are forced to Epic?
look at her face, which was possibly
Leonardos plan all along. (Mind blown.)

Your art style and story tone will also


play a big part in how correct your
background needs to be. Avatar: The Last Airbender wanted
to recreate a naturalistic world with
Will it be melodramatic? linear perspective.

The most important thing is


supporting the story and the Kim Possible had BGs with very few
characters!! parallel lines to stay upbeat and fun.
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 191
More incorrect, So, why learn linear perspective She wanted to use linear perspective
but whimsical at all? for the heist one, so I visualized her
BGs for Bugs trying to draw something like this
Bunny, and the To answer that question, heres a over and over:
rest of the brief, related story about Sal:
Looney Tunes
backgrounds.
Ahhhhh,
cha.
Tim Burton...
Enough said.

Kim Jung Gi.


Enough said Or drawing stuff like this:
here too. Once upon a time in late 2009, Sal
decided she was going to make her
first webcomic, but didnt know
which of her many story ideas to
choose. By the time she came to
seek my opinion on the matter, she
had narrowed it down to two choices:
A heist story about gangsters in We discussed the difficultly of
Linear perspective is a great tool, but 1930s New York, or, a Japanese style drawing cars, and buildings that were
you dont always need to use it. Like, fantasy-adventure with magical very important to the tone and
you dont use a hammer to eat cake. foxes and stuff. events in the story. Plus, they had
Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 192
to be historically accurate (hours of So, the honest answer to the question, So if linear perspective is something
research!), compared to the organic, Why learn linear perspective? is: you want to be able to do, thats
freeness of fantasy-nature. You dont have to learn it, but it does great! I hope this book will help you
give you more choices in the style of practice and hone your skills!
Although the linear perspective art for the stories you want to tell.
wasnt the sole deciding factor, Sals If not, thats great too! Just go do
limited linear perspective skills at the Mastering Linear Perspective is not whatever suits your storys art style!
time made the heist story a MUCH necessarily the next step to being
more labor and time intensive option, a better artist. It only does one
and she decided on the fantasy comic, thing: assists you to draw inorganic
Hotarugari. (She ended up needing backgrounds in a visually similar way
linear perspective in the fantasy to reality. Thats it. The end.
comic anyway, though.)
Linear perspective
doesnt help much with
nature backgrounds,
because there arent
any straight lines.

Liner perspective
doesnt help you
paint, understand
composition, design, or
tell stories, either!

Background Basics: Academies & High Schools 193


So... Now What?
Wooooow! You got through the If you keep making stuff, its Ive also got some longer term
whole book! Congratulations! likely youll get a body of work. projects in the works, like
coaching a group of 5-10 people
If youre anything like me, If you have a large body of for 6 months while they draw
after finishing any kind of work, its more likely to get their first 22 page manga or
instructional book, your last you hired than on an art school webtoon.
thought is, So...now what? degree or resume/CV alone will
because itll prove what you can But why wait for that? If
Make stuff and do instead of just describing you have an idea for a story
what you can do. make it and finish it!
finish it.
More easily said than done Until next time, happy drawing!
It sounds dumb, it really does,
though, right? Thats why -Betsy
but its true. There is no
storydrawingskills.com is going
drawback to making stuff and
to be the home of guided
finishing it.
drawing challenges, workshops
and prompts based on this
Youll gain the additional skills
book as well as other story art
of seeing things through to the
related topics like character
end, time management, as well
design and story writing for
as the improvement of your
comics.
art skills.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Im Betsy Luntao and I thought I wanted to work in a feature
film animation studio, so I went to art school and got myself
Yarrr!
a degree. During the pursuit of that degree, I ended up being
This is me best
hired as an art teacher in 2011 for an af ter-school program
pirate face! type thing. I came to the realization that I enjoyed teaching
drawing even more than I liked drawing for an employer, but
Im too, um, free-spirited to work at a real school.

My new mission in life: To provide guidance to artists who want


to develop skills for film-style storytelling in online comics and
storyboards.

Yet, I came to find my local art classes very limiting in that


mission. Frequently, I was asked, Do you have any lessons
online? I finally decided to write this ebook as the first step to
offering art instruction outside of my local art classes.

I hope the contents of this ebook was of some help to you,


but if not, I would love to hear what your biggest struggle in
drawing is right now: betsyillustration@gmail.com
(Yes, I do read every single email!)