- Posted by Johanna on February 8, 2011 at 9:44 am
- Category: Books and Prose
- CREDITS: by David Chelsea
- PUBLISHER: Watson-Guptill; $21.99 US
Learn the Secrets of Curvilinear, Cylindrical, Fisheye, Isometric, and Other Amazing Systems That Will Make Your Drawings Pop Off the Page
David Chelsea (author of the early 1990s graphic novel David Chelsea in Love and illustrator for four years of the New York Times Modern Love column) has created this specialized how-to book to cover a topic that often challenges aspiring cartoonists and animators.
Chelsea earlier wrote Perspective! For Comic Book Artists: How to Achieve a Professional Look in Your Artwork, but since that was published in 1997, it seems we’re overdue for a followup. I haven’t read that volume, so I can’t compare the two. Based on the writer’s notes, though, it seems that that book is the one to start with.
This one jumps right into detailed, high-level treatment of the subject, following on from the previous volume. As this book’s subtitle suggests, the types of perspective covered here are complex, benefitting those creators serious about their work, and the presentation can be quite technical. Settings with extra vanishing points (such as spiral staircases or slanted roofs), for example, go beyond the basic box with their curves, diagonals, unusual orientations, and lack of right angles. Additional chapters cover light, shadows, and space mapping, which leads to spherical perspective to handle wide angles, based on some lessons of cartography (map-making). Plus there are some visual tricks, including reflections.
Even reading as a non-artist, I did find bits entertaining, because the book is done in comic format. David and his friend Mugg (who has a coffee cup for a head, a situation that I assume is explained in the first book) both provide examples (as they wander through unusual worlds) and show how to create them, in direct instructional fashion. Chelsea’s thin-line pen-and-ink style is well-suited to both types of art. It can sometimes be stiff and formal, but that suits teaching such a deep area.
I also liked the end of the first chapter, at which point Mugg asks, “Realistically, David, how often am I going to need to draw a spiral staircase?” The response is
Oh… probably never — but having drawn one, I don’t think you can ever be frightened of extra vanishing points again!
This is an advanced work for those who know they need in-depth study of the topic and are willing to work through the detailed examples. The final chapter talks about how to do some of this on the computer, and there is an accompanying DVD of various perspective grids. (The publisher provided a review copy.)