3D Drawing – Moving Your Drawing to the Distorted and Flattened View

I had Jen, someone who had purchased my book, Sidewalk Canvas, email with a question a few days ago about gridding a drawing.  At first I thought she meant gridding in general, but as I started to answer her I realized she meant the specific question of taking a perspective drawing and transferring it to being a flattened (and thereby showing the distortion) drawing for anamorphicly created depth.  On pages 48-51 in the book I described how to create the correct grid, in perspective, and then take that grid by hand and flatten it, transferring the correct appearing drawing to the distorted state it needs to be in for the drawing to read correctly.

I went through it pretty step by step in the book and am trying to figure out another way of explaining it that would be easier to understand – But I think the simpler concept to apply first is that when you look at that grid in fig. 8 p 49,
Image (fig8)
you are seeing it drawn in perspective, instead of flat, as you would need it to draw it.  So, the concept I’m trying to explain on pages 50 and 51 is how to transfer that grid into a flat grid.  The basic idea is that you need to take each one of those grid squares, seen in perspective, and you need to draw them in their flattened state.  So, the way I show in the book is a precise, but somewhat tedious, way of doing this.  Essentially what you are trying to do is take each one of the points where the drawing is crossing a grid line and transpose it onto the flattened grid in the exact same place.  The compass and ruler allow you to get that to the correct point very precisely.  While the vertical lines of the drawing are not so difficult to place accurately without the ruler method, the horizontal lines can be a bit trickier as you are dealing with flattened perspective in your measurements.  
Okay, so let’s look at figure 5-7 on page 51.  
Image(fig 5-7)
What I am trying to show (though it’s not being done very well!) is that the place that the left side of the rope-tied piling crosses the grid line in the perspective grid lines up, using the ruler and compass at the bottom, to hit the precise point on the flattened grid where you see the side of the piling being drawn in.  Same with the eyeball, fish’s mouth, etc.  So, if you were to go through your line drawing, which is drawn in perspective, and transfer it point by point using the ruler to your flattened grid, it would give you a way to take your drawing and distort it correctly in the flattened view.  
 As I said, this is very tedious and very precise.  There are easier ways of doing it if you’re familiar with photoshop or another photo editing program.  
 Now, in looking through all of this information there is one fact you need to understand – using this traditional method of anamorphic perspective will not render a perfect illusion of distortion.  Why is that? Well, first off, this geometric equation is based on the idea of flat planes but, let’s face it, nothing we are doing is flat – not the surface we draw on (a globe, the earth), nor the surface we view it with (our eyeball or the curvature of a camera lens) – so even as we transpose this perfect drawing, you will look at it as a large painting after and various portions will not appear quite right.  There are various ways of tackling this issue – some people try just using a projector and shooting the image onto the ground – this works to some extent, but the vertical perspective isn’t really correct and it causes some significant proportionate issues within the larger painting  – but if you don’t get math, it’s a semi-successful crutch.  There are adjusted geometric equations that allow for this curvature – Kurt Wenner has developed one, though it is more of his own “master’s secret” and not really available for the public at this point.  And there are lots of artists who use a bit of geometry and a bit of good old fashioned work ethic in making the adjustments by hand as they develop the image, correcting along the way to make a better painting.  
IMHO, it’s valuable to understand the math and to learn how to use it – think of it like learning foundation skills of any sort – skipping the foundation is less about “cheating” and much more about really understanding our craft from the ground up so that we make whatever adjustments necessary out of knowledge, not out of accidental guessing.  Take the time, figure it out, apply it, and learn what needs to be adjusted – better to make mistakes and learn how to be better then to stay mediocre :o)

Today is the first day of the rest of your life

About 6 weeks ago the Orange County Register spotlighted me in an article about CSUF grads who had done well after finishing school.  The article link is here:


And a few days after the article ran, I received an email from the high school counselor a the Glenn Rockey Probation Camp in San Dimas, letting me know that he had seen the article and was wondering if I might come speak to their boys about my career, and encourage them with seeking after an art career after they are done with serving their time in the camp.  This is an all male camp, and pretty much exactly like what it sounds like – a little intimidating for me in some ways, but I was also very happy about the opportunity to speak with these youth.  Today was the day – I was instructed to leave all bags and so on in my car, and go through the various locking doors to come inside and back to the high school where I proceeded to speak with four different classrooms of boys, mostly around ages 15-16, about what I do.  I’ve done hundreds of workshops and lectures in the past, but there was something different about today for me – I think it was that I was doing this as a volunteer and that I really wanted to do this.  I’ve wanted to seek out something along these lines for awhile now, so it was really fortuitous that they reached out to me – since I was obviously so busy and distracted that I wasn’t taking the lead ;o)

It was a great day for me, and a pleasure to be there.  I’m not claiming any great change or anything of the sort that I effected today, but I was truly happy to just be there doing something that felt like giving back.  Those boys have a lot of issues – if they didn’t, they wouldn’t even be there – and there were definitely some points when some tuned me out, were not the most polite, etc – but I didn’t even care.  As one of the teachers said, “Don’t let it get you down, you are planting seeds and you don’t know where it will go”.  That was the message I would leave all of us for today – we’re all planting seeds, even when we don’t realize it – and we never know where those seeds will go.  I’m hoping I get a chance to go back and do some hands on work with those boys, bring some pastels and have some fun.  What they reminded me of today is that today is the first day of the rest of my life, as well as theirs, and we all can make a difference.