Perspective in Storytelling 1
Artists! I am going to make a series of write-ups on how I use perspective as a storytelling tool. To me it’s the second-most important element of storytelling, after acting. But that’s more because bad acting ruins any good story. In the case of perspective, it’s all about making a story more momentous.
Process-wise, I use digital perspective grids, and at one point created a Photoshop file and an accompanying tutorial on how to use them—it contains two main grids, 1-point and 2-point. I find it’s all I need…I morph them using the transform tools to become any sort of grid I want.
I don’t start with the grid, though. First I draw the thumbnail (at 50% print size), scan it, and then I apply a grid that matches what I drew. That’s when I print it all out at 1.25 print size (the size I pencil and ink at). I tape it to my board and use a lightbox to trace the thumbnail, and let the perspective grid guide me as I draw.
Anyway. Most of these installments will focus on one panel at a time. I’ll start with examples of 1-point perspective and move to 2-point and beyond, later. FYI, I probably draw slightly more panels with 2-point perspective than 1-point, but they’re fairly even, and I usually have at least one of each on a page.
Today we have the most common reason I use 1-point perspective, which is when something is straight-forward. It helps readers focus on the words, and it can also make it feel like the panel lasts a shorter time.
I don’t even know if it works this way in actuality, but I have a theory that people HEAR things when they read comics…if the comic is done successfully. I try to use tricks that add or detract from the noise, just like a director might do with a movie score. You make things more complex and it’s as if there’s accompaniment to what’s going on. And in this case with a simple, 1-point perspective, I’m taking the music score away. The silence is especially important at this moment because her night is about to get pretty crazy.
I also use 1-point in this panel because Eve is very matter-of-fact about what she’s saying. She needs to know everything is stable and even tells the mannequin not to move.
Where I put that singular point is always semi-intentional. Semi- because I don’t actually think, “Okay, let’s put that point here…” when I’m thumbnailing. But when I see where the point ends up, I always know the reason it’s there. If you look this time, the point is around where Eve’s elbow is. It’s about evenly between her and the mannequin, so now we have equal focus on both. Yet she’s backing away from the perspective point—the stability she’s created. I also have the horizon lower than her head because that makes it a little more unstable, too—and makes it feel like she’s being watched. If the horizon is at the level of her eyes, it’s as if we are seeing things from her perspective.
For more perspective posts, click here!