Skip to main content

Pt1: Simple Perspective for 2D Animation

Perspective drawing is the art of creating the illusion of three dimensional space on a two dimensional surface such as a piece of paper or your computer monitor screen. The principles of Perspective drawing are also very relevant to 2D animation - particularly when you want to move a character closer or further away from the camera.

In this series of articles on perspective I'm going to demonstrate how perspective can be taken into consideration when creating your animations. I'm going to try to keep things simple so you don't have to remember too much when applying these concepts in your own work.

I'll be using the GoAnimate studio to create my examples but the concepts also apply to any form of 2D animation. If you'd like a detailed explanation of Perspective Drawing then there is a great series of articles in Art Factories, Perspective Drawing Techniques for Artists.

Most people are aware of the key concept of perspective i.e. things get smaller as they move further away and bigger as they get closer. However applying that idea to moving characters can be quite a challenge. You'll often see this kind of Perspective failure (see animation below) with new animators where a character walks unnaturally off the bottom of the screen.



The trick to applying perspective well is to begin viewing your piece of paper or computer monitor screen as more of window into another world rather than a flat surface. Imagine you could reach right into it and touch the things you see on the other side. The mistake in the above video occurs because the creator has yet to learn how to visualize correctly the space at the other side of the screen.

Simple, One Point, Character Perspective

In the GoAnimate studio the most basic camera angle is a fixed position that shows you the entire background scene - as per the scene in the example video above. Most scenes use one point perspective.

(Note that, in GoAnimate, all the Lil' Peepz style themes use isometric perspective on many of backgrounds and props - which is problematic when trying to apply correct perspective to scenes and characters since isometric perspective has no horizon line or vanishing point).

One point perspective, at its simplest, works by drawing a horizon line across the middle of your scene and choosing a point in the exact middle of that line, which becomes your vanishing point. You then place your character in the scene at the initial size you want them to be.

Then, when you want the characters to move closer or further away from the camera in correct proportion to the scene, you just imagine some guidelines that extend from the vanishing point to the top and bottom of your characters and beyond, off the edge of the screen. (See still image below).


If these two characters now either walk towards the vanishing point or towards the camera in a straight line, perpendicular to the camera, their size should increase or decrease proportionally so that the top of their head and feet are always in contact with a guideline.

You can see this in practice in the video demonstration below which finishes with a scene similar to our original perspective failure video above, showing how the characters should correctly move off screen when walking toward the camera.



Notice that the left and right side of the scene (divided in half by the vanishing point) mirror each other. If one of these characters were to walk directly at the camera, in front of the vanishing point, they would get bigger in the scene until the middle of their stomach hit the camera.

By simply marking where the horizon line is in a scene and placing the vanishing point right in the middle of it. Then using guidelines, as I've shown, you can get by reasonably well with fairly convincing perspective of your characters in 2D animation.

In part 2 of this series I'll be looking at applying one point perspective to backgrounds to create realistic, horizontally scrolling backgrounds.

Comments

  1. NIce. Now let's hope a lot of people read this and then actual apply it. It sure would make for more viewing pleasure.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great advice TET. Have fun helping millions with these tutorials!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Running to part 2, but how did you make the guidelines? did you import them? because I don't know of a prop in GA that trims down at the end to a point.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There isn't a prop to do that. My guidelines are actually big white triangles with a big blue triangle on top for the sky and a big purple triangle down below for the ground.

      If you really need the guidelines then I'd recommend making a line prop with Flash that you can resize and rotate as needed.

      Delete
  4. I always had trouble with perspective drawing. It seems the only thing i could draw well with this technique is a set of train tracks or a conveyor belt disappearing into the horizon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's pretty much where I started learning... lots of roads and train tracks disappearing into the distance. Followed by fence posts and power/light poles... from there it's not such a big jump towards buildings. With enough practice you eventually start seeing a piece of paper as a window rather than a flat surface.

      Delete

Post a Comment

* Thanks to constant spam comments by a Casino Marketing Moron who won't get the message that spam comments WILL be deleted ALL comments will be moderated and only cool, on topic comments will be approved.

I welcome, read, and respond to genuine comments relating to each post. If your comment isn't that save me some time by not posting it.

Popular posts from this blog

Featured Animator: Christian Haynes - 'Zack In Time' An Original, Independent, Animated Series on the Rise

Christian Haynes - Zack In Time.  If you've ever wanted to create an animated TV series staring your own original characters and stories then Los Angeles based writer, director, and animator, Christian Haynes is taking those next steps of putting together a team, developing a pitch/trailer for their series, Zack In Time. Featuring professional studio quality animation, they hope the show will get picked up by an animation studio for an official series. The path he and his team are taking is one you could easily follow as they deal with real life commitments, and building a following on Instagram and Tik-Tok showcasing their work behind the scenes. TET: Tell me a little about yourself. Who you are, and why you started animating? My name is Christian Haynes and I've loved animation ever since I was a kid. I would constantly be drawing cartoon characters from TV shows and movies and making my own little homemade comic strips.  As I got older, I became a lot more interested in st

Wonder Unit Storyboarder - Free Storyboarding Software for People Who Can (or Can't) Draw

Wonder Unit Storyboarder.  As an independent and solo animator I'm always tempted to try and skip storyboarding my animated shorts because they're usually only single scene sketch comedy type jokes. As a result I have many unfinished projects that kind of petered out due to having no clear finishing line. Storyboarding your productions, no matter how small, gives you a step by step guide of every shot that needs to be completed (no planning shots as you animate). It also allows you to create an animatic that gives you a rough preview of the finished production. In short, you shouldn't skip storyboards as they, generally, increase the chance of the project being completed. Disclaimer - I'm Not a Fan of Storyboarder Upfront, Wonder Unit's Storyboarder  is not my preferred storyboarding software. However it's completely free, has a number of very compelling featu

Shotcut - Free Open Source Video Editor for Windows, Mac, and Linux

Shotcut Open Source Video Editor. I've been on the hunt for a while now for the best, free, open source, video editing application out there. In Shotcut , by Meltytech , which has versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux, I think I may have found a real front runner. This won't be a feature filled review, rather it will be my first impressions after having used Shotcut on a few of my YouTube videos so far. One of my key criteria for a video editor is the ability to import any video format directly into the project. This may seem like an odd focus initially but having convert video to something your video editor can use is annoyingly time consuming, and it creates a new generation of footage, potentially with a loss in quality if you don't really know much about video format specs (that's this guy right here!). Shotcut will happily work with my OBS recordings (.FLV), and .MOV, .MP4 files that I get from two different cameras. Not only that but Shotcut doesn't hold me up

How to Use Plask and Reallusion's 3DXchange to Create Full Body 3D Motion Capture Animation for Cartoon Animator

Last month I reviewed Plask , a free, browser based app that allows you to create 3D motion capture files for animation from a webcam or prerecorded video footage. At the time my hope was that Plask could be used to create 3D motion capture files for Cartoon Animator 4. Unfortunately my knowledge of how to export 3D animation motion files between applications is fairly basic and I wasn't able to figure it out. However, thanks to 3D animation enthusiast and game developer, Freedom (of the YouTube Channel Freedom Arts ), who published a tutorial on how to use Plask with iClone7 characters (in my review I wasn't able to work that out either) there is now a workflow from Plask, via Reallusion's  3DXchange , to Cartoon Animator that is relatively easy to follow and works well. Note: If you want to try this out, 3DXchange is available as a free 30 day trial download if you don't have it. Creating Your 3D Motion Capture File in Plask I'm not going to do a detailed run

Create 2D Animated Characters with 3D Character Creator Tools and Artistic Filters

3D CC3 TET Character, based on my Oppa Doll Avatar, used as the base for a 2D CA4 character. One of my favorite things to do is to create characters with any type of Avatar/Character creator app. In fact the first test I usually try with these tools is, can I make an avatar of me (or at least my The Extraordinary Tourist persona). Previously I've used 2D character creators like Oppa Doll as a source of artwork for some characters I've made for Reallusion's Cartoon Animator 4 animation studio but 2D character creators are limited to... well 2D. 3D Character Creators While you may think 3D character creators have no place in creating characters for 2D animation there are quite a number of advantages including: No drawing skills required. Render characters in any style. Use an art filter or even hand trace into line art. Need to animate the character in a specific pose or angle? Render out an image of the character in the required angle and animate it in 2D. Quicker to crea

KIT Scenarist - Free, Open Source, Screenwriting Software that Helps Research Your Ideas Too

KIT Scenarist Script Writing Software's Mascot, Alexander Cat. While you can write a script in any word processing app, if you're writing stories (screenplays) that feature characters and dialogue, a dedicated script writing app can save a lot of time formatting, letting you focus more on the actual story. Script writing apps are also very useful if you plan to send your screenplays out to production companies, or if you're collaborating with actors and other production people, who are used to scripts being in a particular standard format.  [Note: In case you're wondering there are reasons scripts follow a standard format and are always written in Courier (typewriter) font, including but not limited to; being easy to read by actors, plenty of space for notes, and the general rule that one page of a script (in this format) equals approximately one minute of screen time.] KIT Scenarist , in my opinion, is one of the best script writing apps out there for ease of use, simp

Creating a G3-360 Head From a Single Photo in Reallusion's Cartoon Animator

Source Photo from Generated Photos . Ever since Reallusion introduced the G3-360 Character Head into Cartoon Animator 4 I've wanted to see if their 360 Head Creator tool could be used to create an animated head using a photo. Part of the reason I've never given this a shot, until now, is that I just assumed it would be difficult, and require a lot of photo editing to blend out the sprite edges. It turns out, creating a photographic G3-360 head is not that much more difficult than creating a cartoon head, and can be done using a single photographic image using my own G3-360 head rigging system . While this article isn't intended to be a full tutorial, I'll run through the basic steps of how I achieved my photographic G3-360 head, shown in the comparison below, of a Cartoon Animator Morph-based head on the left, and my G3-360 head on the right. Pros and Cons Cartoon Animator's morph-based head system is ideal for animating photographic faces. It uses a semi 3D wire me