Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

How do you draw perspective, backgrounds, and nice angles?
6497315 at 7:50PM, Nov. 6, 2008
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These things are the single most hard things I have ever done. I CANNOT figure it out! I looked on the internet for tutorials, but nothing helped me. I must figure out how do do backgrounds, angles, and perspective.

Here is a picture of a slime-monster I am making for my comic.
Ignore the slime-man and look at my pathetic background! A blurred perfect square as the floor, and a couple mountains in the background. The patheticness of it makes my brain hate me.

I want to draw buildings, decor, landscapes, with some fancy angles and stuff as well. But… I… CANT… DO IT!!!


Am I missing a simple step or something? Because it seems that everyone can do backgrounds; even some of the crappy drawers. I, however, cant make more than a flat surface with odd mountains randomly around.


HELP, PLEASE!
“WHAT IS THIS MICKEY MOUSE SH*T?!”- R. Lee Ermey
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM
BlkKnight at 8:23PM, Nov. 6, 2008
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Such a friendly vicious slime monster.

Anyway, it looks like you did the background entirely through rendering which may be part of the problem. If you have access to a graphics program that uses layers and possibly a tablet, I'd draw the background as a separate layer. Just give yourself a horizon line and draw some buildings the way you want it. Then just put the slime monster layer on and position it to your liking.
That's “Dr. BlkKnight” to all of you.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:26AM
lba at 9:18PM, Nov. 6, 2008
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My first suggestion would be to reduce your use of gradients and lens flare. the lens flare is a big distraction and doesn't really add anything to your sense of depth.

Second: Perspective lines. Put down a horizon line with a vanishing point and have everything radiate out from it. which leads to the third point.

Third: Size. Bigger means closer to the viewer while smaller means farther away. Right now your background is flat because it doesn't have any objects of varying size to give the impression of depth. Take a look at my comic here: ( It's an older one, but it's the best example I've got right now. )

Note how those lines add a bit of depth and perspective through their change in size even though they're just little scribbles? It's that easy. You can do the same thing just by drawing something small like rocks or grass tufts too.

Fourth, you can also overlap objects. By overlapping one thing like the tree over the fence in my example, the viewer immediately understands it to mean that the fence is behind the tree somewhere. More depth right there.

And lastly, keep in mind that when you have mountains or buildings blocking the horizon line from view, their base is never at the level of the horizon line. They're always in front of the horizon line. Otherwise they wouldn't be obscuring it. That means the base of things like that belongs below your horizon line on your drawing.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:29PM
Pandafilando at 9:56PM, Nov. 6, 2008
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you know there's nothing better than observe and practice, there could also be some nice print material like David chelsea's perspective for comic book artists, which i really find to be a great example, but as i said before, nothing like practicing.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:38PM
Custard Trout at 3:40AM, Nov. 7, 2008
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Learning how to draw generally helps.
Hey buddy, you should be a Russian Cosmonaut, and here's why.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:01PM
mattchee at 9:14AM, Nov. 7, 2008
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Couple things.

First off: Perpsective! For Comic Book Artists by David Chelsea is an EXCELLENT book, and a joy to read. It is packed with probably all technical perspective stuff you'd ever need. More than most “traditional art” perspective books even. Its written in comic format, so its very friendly.

Photographic reference… You can't really draw something without knowing what it looks like! In a lot of cases, you can take the photo refs and figure out where the vanishing points are and whatnot… then you can really get going….

Google Sketch-up. Probably an insanely handy tool which I'd use if i had the time to make models. Its more frustrating to me than anything else, but if you get a handle on it… i know people who swear by it.

Yep.

It all really depends on how much time you have. I pretty much fill up my free time getting my two pages a week done, so I avoid perspetive and detailed backgrounds where i can, but I'm trying to bring them into the fold more because, A) its always better for the story, and B) Its really rewarding to do a really nice full background…..
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:55PM
harkovast at 4:06PM, Nov. 7, 2008
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This might sound overly obvious, but there are lots of art books available that go into this sort of thing with handy examples etc.
The basic rule is if it is closer make it bigger, and then smaller further away, but the only way to really learn it is by practicing.

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:42PM
ozoneocean at 7:16PM, Nov. 7, 2008
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Here's one of the scenes from my comic that shows perspective



That was actually pretty easy to draw. The hardest part was getting things historically appropriate and then making sure I had enough variety with the look of the buildings.

The trick with BGs isn't just to DRAW them, but to know what sort of BG is needed and to know the angle you need it from in the scene, and the lighting too. Basically, what helps for me is if you treat it like a real location, at a real time, and then visualise what would be the best view for the shot to show the action. THEN draw it.

After you've thought about it as a real place, can imagine what you'd like it to look like, know the angle you need to show the action in your image, then you can more easily find reference pics that fit so they can help you with your art.

You don't need to have your perspective mathematically correct either. As long as you know how it works, you can fake it ok.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM
6497315 at 7:41PM, Nov. 7, 2008
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I have google sketch-up actually. I have made some models with it, and it is neat. But how the bloody hell do you make a comic with it?!
It looks nothing more than a model maker! I guess I'll have to look it up.
“WHAT IS THIS MICKEY MOUSE SH*T?!”- R. Lee Ermey
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM
JoeL_CQB at 11:17PM, Nov. 7, 2008
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it's meant to be used as a model maker. you fill in the rest.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:10PM
cartoonprofessor at 4:04AM, Nov. 11, 2008
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lba
Fourth, you can also overlap objects. By overlapping one thing like the tree over the fence in my example, the viewer immediately understands it to mean that the fence is behind the tree somewhere. More depth right there.

All good points from Iba, but I have only selected one to quote from;

This point is an excellent ‘cheat’ if you want to call it that. Something I often show my students is to try to overlap a small object in front of the main character to one, show depth, and two help communicate size. When you do this a simple horizon line with some hills in silhouette is all you need to effectively convey depth and perspective.

And like Ozone mentioned, mathematically correct perspective can sometimes even look wrong if you haven't considered the information you are trying to convey. It is often better to ‘fake’ it. In other words, draw it as you think it SHOULD look, not necessarily as it WOULD look.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:36AM
skoolmunkee at 1:56PM, Nov. 11, 2008
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Pandafilando
you know there's nothing better than observe and practice, there could also be some nice print material like David chelsea's perspective for comic book artists, which i really find to be a great example, but as i said before, nothing like practicing.

Yes, yes, yes. If that's the one with the mug-guy, which was kind of weird, that book is great about making perspective understandable and doable.
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:41PM
arteestx at 9:09PM, Nov. 14, 2008
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I would highly recommend the Scott McCloud book “Making Comics.” In it, he describes how background are essential to creating a sense of place. Even establishing an initial detailed environment goes a long way to grounding the comic. I can't tell you how to draw, but I would recommend not thinking about it as “background.” It's not some image you draw to slap behind the cool figures being drawn. It is an environment, a real place, a world that your characters live in. It's not just a background. It needs to be as real as the figures themselves. Like I said, I recommend McCloud's book.


Xolta is not intended for anyone under 18 years old.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:02AM
tiffawolf at 3:31AM, Nov. 24, 2008
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6497315
These things are the single most hard things I have ever done. I CANNOT figure it out! I looked on the internet for tutorials, but nothing helped me. I must figure out how do do backgrounds, angles, and perspective.

Here is a picture of a slime-monster I am making for my comic.
Ignore the slime-man and look at my pathetic background! A blurred perfect square as the floor, and a couple mountains in the background. The patheticness of it makes my brain hate me.

I want to draw buildings, decor, landscapes, with some fancy angles and stuff as well. But… I… CANT… DO IT!!!


Am I missing a simple step or something? Because it seems that everyone can do backgrounds; even some of the crappy drawers. I, however, cant make more than a flat surface with odd mountains randomly around.


HELP, PLEASE!

well u can always use the techniques i use, study the surroundings around you, in your back yard, when u go to town, even look up city pictures from the enternet. drawing angles and backgrounds is the most hardest thing to do in a comic but its also the most important.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:30PM
mattchee at 9:58AM, Nov. 24, 2008
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6497315
I have google sketch-up actually. I have made some models with it, and it is neat. But how the bloody hell do you make a comic with it?!
It looks nothing more than a model maker! I guess I'll have to look it up.


I have very little patience with this program… some people do great things with it.

The idea is that you can build models (even basic ones to embellish) and use them for references (which could be from basic visual cues to lightboxing– I'll let you define that). I've read 4 or 5 passionate debates on Digital Webbing over the the use of SketchUp (particularly right after Joe Quesada's popularized use in OMD). Anyway, you wouldn't use the imagery it creates for your final art per se, but as a tool to get what you need into your art. Set up a model, get the angle you need, viola, perfect custom reference material.

I really wish I was better with this program because I think it could be really handy if you need to use locations over and over throughout your comic. Build the location once, and use it at al the angles and directions you need for your comic! Amazingly consistent!


last edited on July 14, 2011 1:55PM
cartoonprofessor at 3:39PM, Nov. 24, 2008
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I use Carrara Pro for that.

If you hunt down a recent 3D World magazine you will find it for free on the disc. (I got mine from the local library)

You can build very complex scenes (like the space station on pages 1, 2 and 3 of my comic), position your camera wherever you like and render the scene. For large scenes like the station though, be sure to have a powerful computer… I use a G5 Quad and it's still a bit slow for this scene.

For other scenes I ‘borrow’ backgrounds from docos, etc. Like the scenery behind Min and Fin in my tag below.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:36AM
Metruis at 8:19PM, Nov. 25, 2008
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Before you even start worrying about nice angles, learn to make your characters part of the backgrounds you draw.



Using green for the light and red and black for shadows… you see, to make a good background, you need a light source. You then need to consider how that light source will effect the background. It doesn't get lighter towards the mountains, it should be dark there. He should be casting a shadow. I assume the lense flare was to create a light source, so in front of the slime monster, there should be shadowing and highlighting around him.

The slime is awesome. I can't draw slimes! Or monsters. But I agree, your background is pathetic. And that's because it looks like mountains pasted on a cloud render pasted on a gradient with a lense flare dropped on top. Am I wrong? Let's start with those mountains. The render has… some logical shadowing… some not. They look like the light is coming from in front to our left. …The light source is behind them. The mountains look pasted on. You may find that your newest friend is Mr. Photoshop Grass And Or Foliage Brushes! I have some grass brushes with an image pack for free use if you're interested in trying to play with that sort of thing. Here is my grass. http://calthyechild.deviantart.com/art/Grass-brushes-image-pack-92536494

Now, you see, the glory of these collections of various lines is that they let you paint grass fast. They let you disguise building lines and things like those mountain feet. They let you build up foliage. You can get a TON of grass and foliage brushes if you use Photoshop.

There's no simple step. I paint elaborate backgrounds for my comic. The cue is that–paint. It looks like you're Photoshopping it up. Your slime is pencilled. Try pencilling your backgrounds and coloring them too. Copy from real life. I've drawn my fair share of building interiors for practice and I still can't do perspective to save my life.

The ability to do perspective does not change the ability to do a background. People complained about the one I drew perspective lines to get the math right for because it looked wrong. (shrugs) Maybe I did do it wrong. I can't think that way. But I've never drawn perspective lines for forests. You just have to put things everywhere. It's all about chaos. I suggest you move from doing mountains and challenge yourself. Indoors, or in a forest perhaps.

Treat backgrounds like they're real. Study stock photography. Sxc.hu is my most visited site these days, or one of them. o_O There's no magic step. Study them and you'll get it. You already did a cool monster. Now learn to make that monster interact with his background.

You don't need overly detailed backgrounds. You just need logical shadows and lighting to make your characters interact with that background. Backgrounds are there to be ignored, usually.

Which is why you don't always need a lot of detail. Here's one comic page I did…



Now, this is one of my simple backgrounds. The layers of snow and fog provide foreground interest without being detracting. Branches crossing over can do that too, and provide depth. The background itself is really just some blurry lines with a layer of a few evergreen branch brushes and some snow. But their feet interact with the snow, so they're not floating on that background. I wanted the attention on the characters there–not on anything else. An overly complicated background will distract just as much as a bad one.

I suggest studying Disney backgrounds and other animation backgrounds, to get an idea of how characters interact and how backgrounds are detailed without being too complex. http://animationbackgrounds.blogspot.com/

Seriously, there's no trick to it, just get out there and draw things. Mountains are good to be able to draw, anyway. ;)
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:59PM
Druchii at 7:00AM, Dec. 5, 2008
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6497315
I want to draw buildings, decor, landscapes, with some fancy angles and stuff as well. But… I… CANT… DO IT!!!


Am I missing a simple step or something? Because it seems that everyone can do backgrounds; even some of the crappy drawers. I, however, cant make more than a flat surface with odd mountains randomly around.


HELP, PLEASE!

First, anyone can accomplish doing what you are asking of yourself. But you must first realize that backgrounds as lavish as you seem to want to create, are actually the sum of a multitude of parts, and it can take time to do one.

Case in point, that's why I only occasionally use an establishing shot in my comic to show location or area. I don't always like overblown tediously rendered backgrounds. :D

You know, something that worked for a buddy of mine in school years ago was that he went out and took a bunch of black and white photographs and blew them up to 8x10s. After that he took some tracing paper, and broke down each building and architectual element using pencil and only single lines. No shading. Just lines. To see how and what worked. It took about 3 months, but then he started understanding how backgrounds are layered simple elements that visually become combined in our eyes as busy or detailed.

And hey, the perspective I know, I learned for 3 years under a fellow named George Sample, the BEST damn figure and perspective artist in Missouri. For one entire month we drew cardboard boxes. Stacked. Boxes. I hated it, feared it, and then, years later, was grateful for it. :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:17PM
6497315 at 8:29PM, March 5, 2009
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Maybe I'm over complicating things. The way I was taught is that you need like forty lines all drawn all over the page which will help you visualize your background better. I, who draw free-style and never use lines for characters OR backgrounds, only see a bunch of lines. And every time I try and break away from my comfort zone and draw lines to help make a background, it looks like my good friend Slime's little crappy background!

I will have to study up on the matter, I guess. Instead of looking up in google on how to draw perspective, I should look up on google some pictures of scenery. Thats basically how I learned to draw people.
“WHAT IS THIS MICKEY MOUSE SH*T?!”- R. Lee Ermey
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM

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