Perspective “Cheat Sheets” for Comic Book Artists

One of the wonderful things about drawing is that it allows you to create the illusion of a three-dimensional space on a flat, two-dimensonal piece of paper. But pulling this off is not as easy as it looks. It is not uncommon for artists to struggle when attempting to create a convincing sense of depth (or “perspective”) in a drawing. When I was in art school, I knew more than a few art students who wore berets only to cover the bald patches in their scalps that resulted from them pulling their hair out every time they tried to draw something in perspective.

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Artist David Chelsea wrote a book called Perspective! For Comic Book Artists that I’ve found to be helpful. In addition to explaining the concepts of the vanishing point, one-point perspective, two-point perspective, three-point perspective, and foreshortening, the book includes some great “cheat sheets” in the back. Chelsea has gone to the trouble of drawing seven detailed diagrams for artists to use when figuring out the perspective of, say, a series of skyscrapers or the interior of a room. There are two charts each for one-, two-, and three-point perspective, and one chart that shows a series of circles receding into the background. These diagrams alone are worth the price of the book.

Being a busy freelancer with tight deadlines, on more than one occasion I’ve used the diagrams to give me fast and accurate perspective. In my pre-computer days I enlarged each diagram onto an 11×17 sheet of paper and taped it onto my light table, then taped my drawing over the top. Now that I draw digitally, I’ve scanned each diagram into Photoshop and when I need them I just paste them into my drawing, enlarging/cropping them as needed. Then I sketch over them on another layer.

If you do a lot of perspective drawing, especially with crazy camera angles, seven perspective charts may not be enough to cover all your needs. But if you only draw in perspective occasionally, they can be a terrific time saver. You can buy Perspective! for Comic Book Artists at Amazon.com.

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