Scott Briscoe

Freelance Graphic Artist

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Get Better at Perspective Drawing: Beginning with the Basics - using Affinity Designer

Class Introduction on Vimeo

Sample Lesson on Vimeo

I discovered I really needed to have a much better understanding of perspective while taking an anatomy drawing class online. Turns out, good proportion, solid shape language, and accurate foreshortening all require a pretty decent knowledge of perspective. The instructor of this particular class stated the importance of perspective in figure drawing, made a quick sketch demonstrating this importance, and simply said; “if you don’t have this level of understanding, go get it.” And he was back onto the subject of anatomy.  It was at this moment I realized that I’ve always struggled with perspective.

Going and getting a better understanding of perspective was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. I discovered it was difficult to find the information I needed to create accurate perspective. I researched online. I bought (and read) books. I found a lot of  instruction on getting started using vanishing points along with some interesting tips to solve common perspective challenges, but very little instruction on how to solve the inevitable problems that arose when I started working with perspective in my own projects. It was obvious I was missing some crucial concepts. For instance:

  • It wasn’t clear when I should use 1 , 2 , or 3 point perspective.
  • Why do some objects I draw appear warped? 
  • How is accurate scale maintained among objects in a scene? 

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  • Fine artists use perspective to achieve drama a depth.
  • Product Designers use perspective to excite clients and consumers. 
  • Character designers use perspective to convey strength or vulnerability. 

These qualities come from an understanding of perspective and its use - just as my anatomy instructor advised. After a long search for answers, I eventually discovered technical illustration techniques and some valuable information found in older art instruction books originally published in the 1930s and 40s. My rosetta stone ended up being an obscure, but filled-to-the-brim, website put together by Bruce MacEvoy whose passion for art, tireless research, and insightful essays have motivated me to share the results of my explorations.

My name is Scott Briscoe and I should briefly explain my own artistic background. I’ll start by saying that I’ve always loved art whether it’s drawn, painted, sculpted, filmed, or performed. I’ve worked in the graphic design industry since my second year of high school. I had a front row seat when desktop publishing took over the printing and graphic design industries. My career path would have a strong impact on the way I learn - which for me is more of a mechanical process versus an intuitive process. A mechanical process means; there is an actual process. Where as, an intuitive process basically means; my hand would simply articulates on paper what I can see in my head - if I only could…. 

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This class is a systematic approach to understanding and utilizing perspective. Some quick disclaimers:

  • This class isn’t titled “perspective made easy” for a reason. Sometimes, it’s just not easy. I often have to think and problem solve to get the results I need.
  • There will be some math involved. Sometimes a formula is the most straight forward approach to solving a problem. Math is also needed to calculate measurements - no way around this. Once I found a rhythm with the formulas and measuring techniques, I became glad they’re available.
  • Finally, this class might not be suited for the type of artist that can already draw exactly what they see in their head. He or she will likely find this class tedious and look at the techniques I demonstrate as maybe “the hard way to do things”. 

However, if someone has ever struggled with creating accurate perspective, or struggled creating a strong sense of depth in their artwork, or has been bothered by the distorted shapes that often occur using standard perspective guidelines - I believe these skills and methods will be very helpful. 

I will be working in Affinity Designer, a great vector drawing program currently available on Mac and soon to be available on Windows. A free demo can be downloaded here. I will be reviewing all of the tools necessary for this class and demonstrating several workflows in Affinity Designer, but most of these concepts apply to other drawing software as well.  I am excited to see how these techniques will be used by other artists in their own class projects! 

The roadmap for future classes include: 

  • Drawing in Two-Point Perspective
  • Drawing in Three-Point Perspective 
  • Setting up your Perspective Drawing for Maximum Impact 
  • Creating Accurate Cast Shadows and Reflections, 
  • Axonometric Drawing (isometric, dimetric, trimetric) 
  • When all of the prerequisites are completed, I will create several stand alone drawing projects to showcase these techniques in action. For example; creating complex shapes and scenes in perspective using real-world scenarios.  

The class materials include:

  • a PDF overview of the class content
  • a video Table of Contents, 
  • Source Files for all of the examples used in the class 
  • And (possibly) a Formula Worksheet - I am still working on the details for this. 

Please join me on an illuminating journey toward understanding, controlling, and using perspective - better.

Class Outline: (updated 5/21/16)

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