One of the obstacles I must overcome as I learn to draw is that I personally lack almost any true form of depth perception. Most of my life, I’ve exhibited a condition known as strabismus exotropia; I am typically either seeing through my left eye or my right eye, but, as a general rule, not both eyes at the same time. Whereas most people receive stereo data from two points, which are combined by the brain into one three-dimensional picture, people with exotropia lack binocular vision and tend to perceive the world as being somewhat flat.
Although I wear rather extreme prism lenses for this condition, they only really work to a distance of a few feet, and then only rarely, when I’m well rested and looking intently at something in ideal lighting conditions. At the slightest hint of eye strain, one eye will bow out and let the other soldier on alone, only shouldering the burden when the other eye throws in the towel.
I get a lot of headaches.
More to the point, this means that I have to work extra hard to understand depth. Dimensionality takes a lot of extra effort.
In order to draw yesterday’s comic, I wanted some way to be certain that what I guessed Dragon’s front view would look like actually reflected what Dragon’s front view would look like. To that end, I made a 3-dimensional Dragon in Sculpey.
There’s the proof. No eyes.
I wanted this model for other reasons as well, to help me begin experimenting with dimensionality and perspective in this comic, so I could see Dragon from various angles and understand how the body would appear, and how the different parts might move.
This model is just under 3 inches high, which is fairly big for a baked clay model. In order to create a figure of this size that could stand alone on 2 legs, I needed to prop it up with a scaffolding (eventually, 3 unopened bars of Sculpey) as I was building it, and then offer it some extra support in the oven (provide by a small glass dish and a strategically placed knife and spoon).
Even so, Dragon does seem a bit off kilter, weaving to one side like a drunk college freshman walking into a big dance. Plus, those finger nails are off the hook; I gave up on keeping them straight long before Dragon got in the oven. I’m frankly amazed they’re still attached, considering how all the little details fell off my last set of Sculpey models. Although it’s easier to work with, in many ways, than real clay, it’s not as strong or sturdy.
I tried to make both sides a little different, but the way the figure settled in the oven pulled it lopsided anyway. Still, this should be an effective tool.