PERSPECTIVE - Will Terrell
Perspective is one of the hardest techniques for most artists to master. The way that it is taught in most schools is not always clear and in my case was never taught to be applied to everyday drawing. My purpose with this tutorial is to simplify that and show its application to drawing comics. With this technique, you will have more control over the perspective.

To begin, when most schools teach perspective they use the "horrizon" line. For this tutorial I call it the "camera" line. You may have also heard it called "eye" level in some cases. The camera line is the height that the camera/viewer are at when the picture is taken. Anything in the scene that is at the height of the camera line will remain at the height of the camera line.

Mouse over Buttons to see the changes!

Example One: I always start with the camera line. Depending on what you want to do with the picture(what mood and energy you want to convey) is how high from the ground you make the camera line. In example one the camera is 3 feet off of the ground. Mouse over the first button to see it. As you can see anything in the scene that is three feet tall will be at the center line. The average person is 6 feet tall so in this scene, no matter how far off in the distance, the camera hits the people right at their mid section.  

In comic book perspective you still use 1 point, 2 point and 3 point perspective. But it is not nearly as complicated as most teachers make it out to be. For the perspective points, I pick the first point I want to start at, usually what I want to be the focus in the background or where all the action is going to be going to or coming from. Mouse over the 2nd button to see.

Then (this is the tricky part), on the camera line, approximately 2 feet away (yes 2 feet!). Add the second point. It's not even on the page usually. Most of the time I just guess at it. But the first few times you do it you may want to use a yard stick as your camera line. Go out 2 feet and then sketch in the lines from there. Mouse over the 3rd button to see. If you dont get the second point far enough away, you get some funkified perspective. This can be good from time to time, but not for 90% of the panels you will be drawing.

This is not an exact science. And like I said, I mostly estimate it these days. I'm just trying to hint at real life, not capture it. Once you've done it, you'll see how the crossing lines form a grid (sorta like the movie Tron). This is your structure for building the room, cityscape or epic space battle.

Once I have the grid I connect the dots. Where the perspective lines cross, I add in shapes. Like squares, rectangles or arches. Whatever shapes get me closest to the form I want. In example one I decided it looked like everyone was standing around waiting for a train. Works for me. Its easiest to drop in the figures before the background. But it's tricky, if you're not confident in your backgrounds then you should focus on that more till it feels natural putting the figures into your environment.


Example Two:
Example two is probably a better display of using shapes to make up the backgrounds. I basically made squares out of the crossing perspective lines(button 3). This made walls, windows and hallways. It gives the picture much more depth. The camera line, as you will notice is at 6ft tall. So everything in the scene that is six feet tall is barely touching the camera line. This kind of gives the scene a feel like you are at the angle of a security camera looking over the scene.

Example Three: In this shot, I used a 1 ft tall camera to add to the sense of drama. A dramatic camera angle really ads to the storytelling. In this case, you're either a bug looking at all this, or perhaps a fallen cowboy looking up through dying eyes. Whatever.


Example Four: In this example I wanted two things to stand out. The islands off in the distance and the detail of the ship headed towards it. So the islands are the starting perspective point and the ship is the most prominent thing in the picture. I use rough shapes to form the ship and I later go in and add details and texture. Go HERE for the final page.


I hope that this tutorial was helpful and if you'd like to see more, please email me at and let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

Will Terrell

Solution Graphics

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