Baltimore Con is Go!

August 16, 2010

I’m a lucky guy, with giving friends- so thru the generosity of Richard Thompson (creator of Cul De Sac) I will be attending the Baltimore Con over the weekend of August 28th and 29th.


Whew- that’s a lot of links!

Richard is sharing his table with me, located in the Comic Book Diner Fun Zone. He has decided that since everyone else will be selling printed material- that we will be doing something- different. According to Richard “…in lieu of comics we’ve decided to run a sticky carnival food stand with cotton candy, funnel cakes and soft-serve ice cream, as so few treats of this nature are ever available in close proximity to printed material!” So come early, and bring your wallets! I mean appetites.

I tried to design Richard a big fancy banner, but he decided to scent of funnel cakes will do more to attract our prey, er, customers, than any trendy “banners” will. If the printing goes correctly, you’ll be able to find us under my banner, and although not as “eye catching” as something with massive super heroine mammaries on others, you still might notice it.

In other words - "I am here"

Hope to see you all there- and those I don’t- sorry you didn’t clear customs!

The Great Falsehood

August 12, 2010

All images are included here strictly for educational purposes- all rights belong to the proper copyright owners. I don’t own squat.

Brian Stelfreeze once told me “There’s no such thing as one point perspective”, I argued, and I was wrong. What he meant was when we’re taught one point perspective as a shortcut, and usually we’re only shown half the theory. It’s used as an introduction to the complex nature of perspective, but most of us never get the whole truth and accept the stripped down version as an absolute over time. It isn’t. The simple fact is, there’s no such thing as true one-point perspective, it’s all multiple point perspective, but the limitations of a vantage point make the other Vanishing Points (VPs) less obvious. It’s only how lazy we are that dictates how few points we use. We limit it to two or three for simplicity, but the fact is, in real life we’re surrounded with billions of VPs, and in some cases multiple Horizon Lines*!

When we learn one-point perspective as kids, it’s usually drawing a train tunnel, hall way, or some such nonsense. We start with the tracks as usual, vanishing off to the Horizon Line (HL) and this is where we got side-swiped as kids. When we place the wooden ties under the rails, as kids, we’re taught to just draw them straight across and we’re done. Truth is, the moment you move to the right or left of those tracks, it slowly falls apart. At center point of the image, there’s the illusion that things fall straight across in the middle. What is really happening is a subtle slope to two VPs on both sides; it’s gradual but it’s there. If we were only drawing the tracks we might get away with this, but when we move past this ultra simple image and start to create an environment around them, the image will start to fail. Any structure we place around the train ties, to the left or right, above or below the center point immediately falls victim to this falsehood. Andrew Loomis did a good job explaining it in the illustration below.

One-point, you can stretch it, but eventually like a rubber band- it'll break!

See the little box around the viewer’s head- in essence that’s the viewing area where you can cheat the concept of one-point perspective before things begin to fall apart, it’s not to say it works, it just means at a glance it won’t scream “failure”.

Below is a brick bridge built over some train tracks, and at first glance it looks straight across at all points. Our one-point perspective is safe! ~ Wrong.

the good old train track trick

When we rule lines straight across and space them out evenly up and down the image, first glance, things are still looking pretty good.

1-point theory- all we need are straight lines across the middle!

No, wait a second, look the top of the bridge? Or the interior cabin of the train we’re on? Or the ties on the lower right hand corner of the image! We might have to pull out our type ruler for the perspective on this one, because that’s what drawing things properly requires! We’re not in this to make things easy on ourselves, we do it because we enjoy creating an image that we want our viewers to believe, and just like crummy anatomy on a figure, lazy perspective can do just as much damage.

Whew- it's way out there- glad we know that type ruler trick!

When we set up our outside VPs, we can rule out where the edges truly fall. It’s then that we can see things aren’t quite what they’ve seemed.

Blimey- there be slopes at the edges of of me image!

Not everything works going straight across as promised by one-point perspective, especially further away from the center point our edges get!

Well just look at that!

As you move closer to that center point you can see how what was once our one-point perspective begins to dominate. This is the transition point to the left side VP and it’s influence away from the right side VP. What’s really happening is 3 point perspective (at the very least) with the center point dominating, and the two side points pulling out to the far edges, but ever so slightly.

Wrap your head around this-dat!

So can you cheat, and do simple one point perspective as we were taught in grade school? Sure, just don’t draw anything except cartoon train tunnels and tracks. You’ll often see the failings of it in amateur drawings. Where hallways have doors that appear to be painted on, and things are obviously out of proportions. Part of the problem is that people believe just by following the perspective lines, it means the image must be correct. Usually it isn’t and things end up looking flat and sterile, but worse they ignore the proportions of the image. For example, do these doors have enough space to open? Do people have enough room to move down the hall? What about when they reach the end? Can they turn the corner and go down the other end of the hall?

Note the flat nature of the doors and width of hall

If you want to see some amazing perspective work, check out Cannabis Works by Tatsuyuki Tanaka, he’s a Japanese artist who has designed backgrounds for films such as Akira.

Available thru companies like

It’s an amazing use of perspective, and puts mine to shame. He does some wonderful images involving stairwells with about 50 VPs and multiple HLs going on. It’s simply amazing. Here are a couple of examples of his “one-point” perspective, see if you can tell how many VPs he’s actually using.

Practically the same shot as above- much more developed

Now look at this “fish-eye” effect he’s done- try that with only one-point.

I wanna break his hands- he's too good!

*As mentioned in the beginning, multiple horizon lines are complex, but in truth it’s any change in the viewer’s line of vision up or down. Since HLs are based on the “POV” of the viewer; changing that POV changes the HL. This happens when one is looking down a stairwell or up into the sky. It’s a difficult concept to explain and the best I can do is give you this illustration by Andrew Loomis.

Ow, ow, ow, ow!

Note how the environment at the bottom of the hill is in perspective, but he’s actually dropped a VP to a lower level to make those items accurate. In essence he’s made a second HL at that level to accomplish that, and it’s in line with what our heads would do and the angle our eye line would take. Since a HL is based on our eye line, by looking down to see the town at the bottom of the hill, we instantly establish a second HL. Whew- makes my brain hurt!