Tag Archives: perspective

3-Dimensional Dragon!

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.

Look, Ma! No eyes!

Look, Ma! No eyes!

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.

Well, hello there, gorgeous!

Well, hello there, gorgeous!

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.

Can I help you?

Can I help you?

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.




Dragon Comics 33

I suspected this would become a problem early on, no matter how great Dragon looks in profile.

Professional comic artists, people who draw better than I do but perhaps not quite as well as they’d like, typically maintain massive clip files of art, so that they always have references for whatever pose or setting they’d like to draw. Fine artists usually spend a lot of time with live models, again providing them with extensive data on which they can depend when sketching. At the very least, many artists make use of articulated wooden models, which help them understand how the human body is put together and able to move. Barring that, today, if you’ve got a good connection and basic Google-fu, there’s a decent chance that you can find a photographic example of whatever’s inside your mind, if what you want is a fairly common thing from a fairly ordinary perspective.

Even so, you can’t find everything. Certain angles are just not represented in GIS. For example, in Dragon Comic 29, panel 3, I knew that I wanted to draw The Man squatting as he picked Dragon, and I was easily able to find many visual examples of this pose online, but most of them were intended as instruction for athletes, and for educational purposes shot either straight on from the front, or slightly angled from the side. There weren’t as many direct shots from the side, which is what I needed, so I had to extrapolate. And even so, The Man still curves his back in a non-ergonomic fashion. I image that he straightened out before he began lifting, so as not to hurt himself. He’s bigger than Dragon, but Dragon’s no featherweight, either.

Sometimes, I take pictures of myself in certain poses to help me see how to draw them. The more comics I draw, the less I have to do this.

The thing I couldn’t imagine, or Google, or photograph, of course, was my main character’s head. I could guess how it might look straight on, but I couldn’t be certain because there’s no frame of reference and my relationship with perspective is tricky. When I had the idea for comic 33, I needed a way to double check that what existed in my mind made sense in the reality of the comic, which I will discuss in tomorrow’s post. Like the smashing of the fourth wall, I think this new technique in my arsenal will help add more dimension to what the rabbit correctly asserted is a rather two-dimensional set of illustrations.