Here are Erik (everyone’s favorite opera ghost) and Ayesha (the Siamese kitten) as stop motion puppets!
Based on the Susan Kay adaptation of the story behind the Phantom of the Opera, where the character of Ayesha the cat is introduced. Puppet design based on the original design by Maria Björnson for the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which is in turn based on the original novel by Gaston Leroux. The puppets and set took three weeks to build, the final animation was done over 48 hours.
Done for my final project for the Intro to Stop-Motion Animation class at the Rhode Island School of Design, Fall 2013.
Movie Monsters by Drew Struzan.
It seems every artist has to drawn the Universal classics at least once!
*STANDARD DISCLAIMER* I’m not handing down life lessons or trying to assert that there’s a ‘correct way’ to draw. I’m just trying to make perspective more approachable for thems that want to tackle it.
Okay. Let’s do this.
1. Understand what perspective is and what it’s for. Stay away from rulers while you get comfortable.
Everyone struggles with perspective because 1. it’s not well or widely taught and 2. artists tend to see linear perspective as a set of rules rather than a set of tools.
Linear perspective is a TOOL we use to create and depict SPACE. That’s it. That’s all it is. Your goal is not to draw in ‘accurate linear perspective.’ Stay away from the ruler and precision for as long as you can. Your goal is to create the illusion of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface. Perspective is just a tool to help you construct and correct that space.
2. Know in your bones that you can ONLY learn to draw in perspective through physical practice. There is no other way.
Grab some paper and draw with me. If you match me drawing for drawing you will be more fluent in linear perspective and spatial drawing by the end of this post. Unfortunately if you don’t, you won’t be.
3. Sketch around in rough perspective. NO RULERS.
So let’s make some simple space. let’s start with a two dimensional surface…
K. We have a flat, 2D surface. Let’s create some depth by putting a vanishing point in the middle, and having parallel lines converge towards it. Make a gridded plane inside that space.
Good. Let’s make that space meaningful by adding a dude and a road or something. (Again, parallel ‘depth lines’ will converge into the vanishing point along the horizon)
And now we have the rough illusion of some space. I didn’t use any rulers, and it’s not perfectly accurate, but we got our depth from that vanishing point right in the middle of the page. And since we have a little dude in there, we’ve got human scale, which allows us to gauge the size of the space we’ve created. Gives it meaning.
You need people or cars or some recognizable, human-scale THING in there as a frame of reference or your space won’t mean much to your viewer. Watch. We can make that same basic space a whole lot bigger like this:
Same vanishing point in the same place, completely different scale, and a totally different feeling of space. Cool, right?
3. Sketch around in rough perspective MORE. STAY LOOSE.
See what sort of spaces and feelings you can create with vanishing points and gridded planes on a post-it or something. Super small, super rough. Feel it out. Pick a vanishing point or lay out a grid in perspective, and MAKE SOME SPACE. Do it. Draw, I don’t know, a lady and her dog in a desert. I’ll do it, too.
Good job. LOOK AT YOU creating the illusion of space! This is how you’ll thumbnail and plan anything you want to draw in space. All of my drawings start this way. I think about how I want the viewer to feel and then play around with space and composition until I find something that works.
Once you have a sketch you like, and space that you feel, THEN you can take out the ruler and make it more accurate and convincing.
4. Draw environments from life.
I cannot stress this enough. Draw the world around you, try to draw the shapes and angles as you see them, and you will ‘get’ how and why perspective is used. Use something permanent so that you’ll move fast and commit. I usually use black prismacolor pencil.
You’ll learn or reinforce something with every drawing. I learned a lot about multiple vanishing points from this drawing:
Learned from the receding, winding space I tired to draw here:
Layered, interior spaces:
You get the idea.
Life drawing will also help you develop your own shorthand and language for depicting textures, materials, details, natural and architectural features, etc. Do it. Do it all the time. Go to pretty or interesting places just to draw them.
Take a second and just draw a quick sketch of whatever room you’re in.
5. Perspective in formal Illustration: apply what you’ve learned.
1. I always start with research. For this particular location I looked at Angkor Wat.
2. Once I had enough reference, I did a bunch of little thumbnail sketches with a very loose sense of space and picked the one I liked best.
3. Scanned the thumbnail and drew a little more clearly over it. Worked out the rough space before using formal perspective.
4. Reinforced the space with formal perspective. I dropped in pre-made vanishing points over my drawing. If I were drawing in real media here’s where I’d get out the ruler to sketch in some accurate space.
5. Drew the damn thing. Because I do my research, draw from life, and am comfortable drawing in perspective, I can wing it. I just sort of ‘build’ the ruins freehand in the space I’ve established, keeping it more or less accurate, experimenting and playing with details along the way. I erase a lot, too, both in PS and when drawing in pencil. Keeps it fun for me.
And that’s what I know about composition and perspective. If you want more formal instruction on perspective and it’s uses, you can use John Buscema’s How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way. Or If you want to get really intense about it, Andrew Loomis can help you.
That’s a good question! Short answer: I like drawing faces, plan to keep drawing faces for a long time to come. But the last drawings I’ve posted have been SUPER TINY, and when a head (or any object) gets too small to render with appeal, I drop the level of detail.
Long answer: there are a few major principles that inform those decisions.
The first principle, I guess, is that draftsmanship (the accurate linear representation of forms and detail) should be subordinate to design (deliberate editorial choices in representation). Just because you CAN draw something doesn’t mean you have to, or that you should. Or that you shouldn’t. Mignola is a great one to bring up here, and I’m glad you did!
The first cover for Seed of Destruction is RAD. And you can really see Mignola’s draftsmanship coming through. He’s drawing the hell out of that toolbelt. He’s drawing the hell out of that gun, that statue, that chain, and every damn fold in that jacket. He is DRAWING. We should all try to draw that well!
The first cover to Hellboy in Hell is RAD. And you can really see Mignola’s design coming through. He designs the hell of that composition, isolating Hellboy in a field of black. He’s designing the hell out of those figures, eliminating extraneous detail and letting the gesture tell the story. He’s paring down and doing more with less. He is DESIGNING. We should all try to design that well.
Both approaches are really effective, but only because Mignola is both a great draftsman AND a great designer. Even detail-heavy guys, like Ueyama, will simplify when a figure shrinks to a certain size, and it becomes more appealing to remove detail than add it. Ueyama draws the shit out of EVERYTHING, but he never lets his (frankly incredible) draftsmanship override his design.
SO yeah. Draw really well. And be conscientious about how you design your drawing, how you bring your skills to bear, what you include and what you excise. There’s really not a ‘right’ answer to draftsmanship vs design, as long as you’re making conscious decisions. The only wrong answer is to thoughtlessly draw without even considering the question.
The other principle is that the right gesture can say it all. You can say almost anything with a figure that you could say with a face. You don’t need a close-up to show emotion or character. Drawing is communication, and if you’re doing it right, gesture can be the whole sentence, with the face as punctuation. Michael Dudok De Wit is a master of this. Check out his film, Father and Daughter. So much emotion. No faces.
I tried to pull off faceless acting in my own film a few years ago, with mixed success.
So, yeah. Once you’re prioritizing design over draftsmanship, and comfortable with gesture as expression, you can just make whatever call you like! Faces and figures, details and deletions, all are YOURS TO COMMAND!!!
It’s your drawing, right? Own it!
It’s almost the end of National Poetry Month. Grant Snider of Incidental Comics illustrates the day jobs of 12 famous poets.
Purchase your poster here
I just went back through over 900 liked posts and dug out all the art tutorials so i can keep track of them. I guess this might be helpful to some of you guys, so here you go.
Here we go then!
Alchemy - this is a really fun program. You play around making abstract shapes until you start to see something in them, kind of like a Rorschach test. Then you use the shapes as a base to draw it from.
MyPaint - a pretty decent painting program that also has the benefit of working on Unix systems.
openCanvas 1.1 - I haven’t used openCanvas in years but it was a nice program with a pretty unique feel to it.
ArtRage - Only used this a couple of times donkey’s years ago just before I got oC, but I’ve heard good things about it.
The GIMP - In a similar vein to Photoshop, but free. I couldn’t get on with it when I tried it out a few years ago, but it’s pretty popular and is available on Unix systems and Macs.
Sketchbook copic: a bit different program
Photoshop - Standard painting fare. Probably the most flexible program (particularly the latest versions) but not designed to act in a “natural” way. If you’ve used it for painting versus something like Painter you know what I mean. Who the fuck pays for it though? Google “Photoshop tumblr masterpost” and take your pick.
Paint Tool Sai - Far more affordable and definitely worth paying for if you can. The brushes are very decent (especially when they’ve been tweaked a little), the gui is simple and intuitive, and I dare you to find a program with which making smooth lineart is easier.
Corel Painter - My program of choice for most things. More tools than you could ever possibly use and pretty cheap on a student license, providing that you can prove you’re a student! It’s got a few bugs but if you want realism or a more natural feel than PS or SAI this is the program for you.
expressions from different angles (love this site)
gamut mask tool (very nice!)
kuler (more colour schemes)
photoshop fur brushes (and tutorial)
Other peoples masterposts
love your fellow artist (anything from prompt generators to animation background here, very nice)
art e-books (mediafire download)
even more e-books (including human anatomy, animal anatomy, cartoons, animation, composition, design, scenery, perspective…)
criminallyincompetent (check out their #reference and #tutorial tags, they’re gold)
Sketchbook - Week 9
a comic i threw together earlier because i’m very stressed out