If you're someone looking to review this, I'd like you to address these questions in particular. Did this make you feel encouraged to try out perspective drawing? Why or why not?
Also, if you happen to be an artist, please give your feedback on this. I'd like the input of someone who's more of an insider, if you know what I'm saying.
At one point in time, I tried to draw in the style of anime. Go to my wall and scroll down far enough to reach the abyss and you’ll see what I mean. Of course, when you’re so immersed in some kind of art for a long time, you feel an urge to imitate what you consumed and express yourself through those means.
I sucked at it though. My facial structures were inconsistent. My hair was stiff. The eyes I drew were lackluster. I took so long to get even the most basic of artwork done. Please don't talk about them now, because I die a little bit inside whenever I accidentally spot my old drawings while scrolling through my phone gallery.
That’s why late last year, I decided to take a break from that and learn perspective first. I have a thing against webtoons and manga that have sucky background art, so I didn’t want to be what Will Eisner called a “slave of the close-up.”
I’m still not the best at it, but it’s fun and fulfilling doing it. Let me tell you why Western perspective is so.
First off, there is a strong sense of order in drawing in perspective. There’s a structure, a methodology, a sort of theory to perspective that you can follow. There are artists who can draw on intuition. They just feel their way around their drawings, and they’ll know when their work is bad or good enough just by feeling alone. You don’t have to feel your way around so much in perspective, because you have that set theory to help you connect the dots.
Because of that, it’s also relatively easy to start off with. It takes a while to draw the human body perfectly, but it takes little time to draw a perfect and aesthetically pleasing box using perspective. That’s how lenient the initial learning curve is. The beginning concepts of the horizon, the vanishing point and the parallel lines bound by it are simple enough for most to understand. True, executing even one-point perspective might be confusing for some. I’ve been there too. However, you can easily solve that problem by watching artists do it live or on video. After seeing it, their technique isn’t as difficult to imitate from then on.
Once the basics are familiar, you can try the more interesting things like ellipses/ovals, compound shapes, violent/warped perspective (the trippy, overexaggerated stuff you see in horror anime), and three-point perspective.
Drawing buildings using three-point perspective. Taken from the three-point perspective article of Paul Heaston in Craftsy.com.
Perspective is a concept that is easily seen and applied in real life. Another facet of perspective that makes it fun is that you can put to paper familiar everyday objects and structures. In your room, you can use objects like books, glasses, boxes, beds, doors, and even the cubic interior of the room itself. Perspective makes going outside a little more interesting, because you can also capture the friendly neighborhood buildings and structures you’ve become so acquainted with.
Yesterday, I drew the mausoleum that I pass by every after school (or at least the basic structure of it, ‘cause I was super sleepy at that time). I also drew the two small stone structures at its entrance. There’s something elating about taking something you’ve seen in real life and, with your own hands and intellect, recreating it from scratch. It’s imperfect, but it contains your personality or a piece of you in some subtle way. Maybe I’ll be able to articulate this feeling in greater detail when I get more experienced in perspective.
Perspective is also a skill that can leak into other kinds of drawings. I used to have great difficulty in drawing the head in different angles, but thinking of it as a box that can be drawn differently in space helped a lot. The concept of foreshortening also comes in handy when drawing characters in very dynamic ways, such as worm’s eye view or violent perspective. If you’re having difficulty finding the height proportions of characters differently placed in a scene, using one-point perspective can help you there. When you’re doing still life, you can use perspective to help you draw the man-made materials like glassware and boxes. Do you know those wacky sound effects in the old superhero comics? You can also make lettering like that using perspective.
I think the last thing that makes perspective fulfilling for me is the knowledge that this is part of world building, an integral part of comics, anime and manga. In his book Making Comics, veteran comic creator Scott McCloud says that learning perspective is essential in convincingly rendering your story’s world. To make it closer to home, it plays an important role in anime and manga as well. What McCloud calls “silent, wandering encounters with environments capable of placing readers within a scene” play an integral part in making the reader feel immersed in the story, which he says is the reason for manga’s massive success at home and abroad.
Though the characters carry the narrative of the anime or manga, the world around them is just as important and can be just as dazzling. Immersion is deepened in Kyoto Animation shows like K-On! and Hibike! Euphonium, as they base their background art off real-life places. The town’s river and its bridge are heavy with emotional weight in Koe no Katachi, because this is the meeting point of so much of Shoya’s heartbreaks and character moments. And I know Taki and Mitsuha were the center of Kimi no Na wa’s attention, but have you appreciated just how breathtaking Tokyo was on screen? The place itself, along with its citizens rushing to catch the morning train to work, was a world that was alive, bustling and busy. It was like a character with its own unique personality. Oftentimes I feel anime and manga put real life places to utter shame, and perspective plays a part in this magic of anime.
Key art of Kimi no Na Wa. Admire the cityscape of Tokyo in particular. Taken from a tweet of the movie's official Twitter account.
Knowing this just motivates me to learn perspective even more. Who knows, I might be able to recreate this magic with my own hands.
Scott McCloud calls perspective “a subject many artists find intimidating.” That may be true. However, he says it doesn’t have to be, and it can be fun as well. You just have to look at it with the right perspective.