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Daily Deviation
Daily Deviation
October 31, 2014
[Stock & Resources] An easy-to-follow tutorial all about perspective! Nsio explains: Understanding 3D by Nsio
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Nsio explains: Understanding 3D



11th tutorial in my "Nsio explains" tutorial series. It's been a while from my last tutorials hasn't it? It took me quite some time to come up with a subject for a tutorial, then figure out how to tackle with it.

Although I have already drawn tutorials both for perspective and foreshortening, I felt that those weren't quite enough. Or rather, they didn't really explain the concepts deeply enough. That's why I wanted to compile this tutorial. I though noticed that I have rather vague understanding about my own way of seeing thins. Coming up with any definite rules instead of just random examples proved to be harder that I had anticipated. Thus, this tutorial is more like a small sample of my mind instead of a complete tutorial. Although there are many rules out there, one should be able to figure them out just with common sense. You don't need to know the name of the rule if you can effectively use it.

1. We aren't drawing 2D objects
Given that we are drawing things that present our reality that is. Anyway, with this part I just wanted to stress that although the canvas we are drawing on is two dimensional, our reality isn't. I always think like I was drawing three dimensional things. I'm not just drawing some lines, I'm drawing the shape of the subject. I don't know, maybe this has become too obvious for me after all these years of practicing.

2. You already know
I find this very interesting part. Because if you think about it, we are hardly ever confused about what we see in front of us. We can tell the shape of the box with one quick glance on it. We can identify human face from any viewing angle. There are tons of things we already know, but probably just don't realize. I guess it's just a matter of learning how to visualize the reality in our mind clearly and then have our hand to draw the image on a canvas.

3. Illusion of depth
As I said in previous part, we aren't confused about things we see. I believe that's because there are just so many visual cues out there that leave no room for confusion. We have grown in this three dimensional world after all, so we can read it really well. So the problem lies on the two dimensional canvas. If the illusion of depth is bad or inconsistent, our brains just don't understand what we are looking at. On the other hand, if we work too long on a drawing, our brains get too tired to care about what it's seeing.

Anyway, you just gotta use common sense here. You need to pay close attention on every little fact of the subject you are drawing. What is its orientation and position in space? What kind of surface does it have? Things like that. Not only you need to get the general shape right, you also need to consider every object that are related to it. Obviously, if you move your arm, the sleeve will follow accordingly. A tennis ball has a spherical form and the details on its surface follow the shape of the sphere. Similarly, if you draw tattoos, they follow the shape of the skin. If you fail to get these small visual cues right the illusion of depth is broken.

4. Overlapping
This is also about the illusion of depth. If you draw two circles overlapping, our brains automatically tries to figure out which of the circle is above and which is below. At least mine does, my view of the circles keep jumping constantly between the two options. Overlapping is one great way of adding sense of depth your drawing. Also, if you construct your drawings with basic shapes, it should be easier to see the depth. Once you understand how basic shapes work in space, you can spice up things with some more complex overlapping forms.

5. Limitations
Although there are nearly infinite possibilities how to draw things, there are certain limitations that stem from our reality. For example, objects can never go trough other objects. An object that's coming towards us can't go behind an object that is behind it. If we are drawing humans, our skeleton and joints set restrictions to our poses. If you don't respect these limitations, you will end up drawing things that make no sense to the viewer (abstract and psychedelic art is whole different thing). Again, our brains already know the things. Especially with human drawings, we are very delicate about how they look.

6. Plane Facing
The key of understanding complex shapes is to break them into simpler shapes such as cubes, because it's easier to read the planes. This is why you should learn drawing basic shapes by heart. You need to know where the surface of the object is facing namely for shading and highlighting. You can also read the orientation of the object when you understand where the planes are facing.

Smooth curved surfaces aren't really different from blocky surfaces. You could say that the resolution is just higher. If you know how to draw basic shapes, you can draw more complex surfaces even if you don't construct them with basics shapes. I myself kind of skipped boxes and it took me really long to figure out to understand the shapes because of it. Once I did some box practicing, I learned to see the planes and shapes very clearly, which then made it possible for me to learn drawing more complex forms such as human bodies without studying the actual anatomy thoroughly.

7. Finding the form
Many things about drawing just needs to be learned trough trial and error. In fact, it's required because you need to program your hand to follow your mind. Even if you know how cube looks, your hand doesn't know how to do it. You will need to put a lot of conscious effort in learning to draw even this basic shape correctly. That's why you need to do self-analysis constantly as you draw. If you work hard, you can slowly steer your drawing towards what is considered right. And as you practice more, you will eventually start to make so decent guesses that you get the drawings right on first try.

You just need to allow you to make mistakes and analyse what went wrong. Try doing the extremes. Is the shape too tall? Try drawing it too short. Is the shape too wide? Try drawing too narrow. Drawing the extremes will help you to evaluate the direction you need to take.

8. Mass and volume
Ideally, anything you draw should convey the feel of mass and volume. These will greatly add the sense of depth. Note that shading is a secondary way of doing that, at least in my opinion (one can argue if adding black areas is about shading or not). The lines themselves should speak on their behalf. Everything should be drawn in such way that the shape can be read just from the visual cues the lines offer. Like I said on first part, I'm drawing shapes instead of lines. It's just that I use lines to represent the shape (sounds weird I know). I have put a lot of effort in my studies on mass and volume, which shows in my female characters.

9. Amodal completion
This is pretty funny thing in my opinion. Our brains actually have the ability to "see" things that are partially hidden by other objects, given that there are enough visual cues. This ability is pretty lame though, as our mind is rather simple when it constructs the missing parts. The brains just prefer seeing things in certain way. For example, I once saw a picture about some women in bikinis and then the same pic partially covered so that the women were seen trough circular holes and all the clothing was hidden. Naturally, my brains told me they were plain naked, even if the uncovered picture was just next to it.

Anyway, the point is that you shouldn't confuse the brains of the viewer. Everything needs to make sense. For example, if you draw a character with a tail and it's partially behind the character, you need to draw it so that our brains can read the tail as a continuous object. Dynamism is a great tool to make sure there is no confusion.

Some perception practice...
Perception is your best asset to study things. I drew few exercises for you to tackle in order to train your perception. The first exercise is about drawing projections of the three dimensional object(s). Drawing projections is beneficial with more complex subjects as well, because you can then use them as a reference for constructing more advanced viewing angles. I drew these free hand, so treat the cubes as if their dimensions were equal. To get an idea what kind of projections you need to draw, see the second exercise for reference.

The second exercise is about drawing three dimensional object from two dimensional projections. The first exercise serves as a reference, but you may draw the view from any other angle you see fit.
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BunnyAspen's avatar

This tuturial helped me to understand more! We’ve been drawing in 3D, adding the shading to make it go along, but I wasn’t understanding a few things about it. This tutorial is very good. 🙂