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March 28th, 2007 - Oodles of doodles. — LiveJournal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Jesse Hamm

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March 28th, 2007

More perspective: figures' sizes and their relation to the horizon. [Mar. 28th, 2007|12:13 pm]
Jesse Hamm
Perhaps the most common and least-discussed problem cartoonists have with perspective is the size and placement of their characters. Most cartoonists who've been at it for awhile know the rules of drawing buildings in perspective, but they tend to guesstimate when it comes to drawing people. This works out OK when the characters are all equidistant from the viewer, and when their feet aren't visible in the frame... but when we pull back to view characters standing in various places throughout a scene, they often appear to be floating over the ground, or sunken into it as if on a trampoline. Their relative heights also suffer: one character ends up as short as a mailbox, another is as tall as a stop sign -- and they're supposed to be twins! The hapless artist may try to finess the props and figures into their proper heights and locations, but without a reliable system he finds that one thing or the other is always too high, too low, too short, or too tall. Frustrated, he resolves to avoid expansive shots at all costs, and every comic ends up looking like a Hee Haw sketch: a boring Hell of nearby, eye-level figures, cropped above the knees.

So, once again, Andrew Loomis sweeps down from Illustration Heaven to save our ignorant bacon. Below are 3 pages from one of Loomis's many long-out-of-print books. Don't let all those criss-crossed lines intimidate you; if you follow the exercises step-by-step, it's all pretty simple. The basic principle he describes is that if you draw straight lines from a figure's head and feet to any point on the horizon, those two lines will form a cone that represents her proper height, and her proper relation to the horizon, at any point along that cone. I'll let Loomis flesh out the details and helpful implications of this approach:

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